Mona was the only daughter of her parents. Her mother died during delivery. Her father decided not to marry a second time. He always gave her the love her mother would give her. At 15 years, she was put into an intermediate school in Dehradun. Just before going, she came to me and cried bitterly. She kept on sobbing, “Aunty, please take care of my father, when I am away”. Her blue eyes were swollen and in those eyes were wells of tears. The sorrow of the separation from her father was seen vividly. I tried to console her saying, “Mona, don’t worry, your dad will be happy when you study well because you are everything for him”.
The father of Mona, Mitendra, was a peaceful and serious man. He did not want to show the pain of parting from his daughter. Six months passed since Mona left home. Home was very quiet. Sometimes he would come to my house in the evening and discuss about the politics which he read in the news. His days were spent in a similar manner. Mitendra may not have nursed his daughter, but he did not let her feel the absence of her mother. He kept awake whole nights and helped her grow.
Five years passed in no time. Mona was in her final stage of her college studies. Mitendra was unwell nearly over a week. When asked what was happening to him, he evaded the answer. One day in the morning, Mitendra called me. He had a letter in his hand. I guessed it was from Mona. He said, “Read this and tell me what decision I should take”. I read that letter carefully, folded it and kept it on the table. May be this was the reason for his being unwell for the last one week. Mitendra had lost his wife 23 years ago, and now he would lose his daughter. He was heart broken. He could only say, “Why ha my Mona become so? Where did I fail to keep her happy?” We decided to go and meet Mona. We took tatkal tickets and departed.
I pressed the door bell and a tall and well-built boy of fair complexion opened the door. By looking at us, he understood that we were Mona’s relatives. He called us inside, “ Please come” and shouted, “ Mona, Mona Somebody has come to see you.” Mona came. We were shocked; we were ashamed to see her. She was pregnant! Mitendra asked, “When did you get married?” Mona kept quiet. The boy sitting next to her said, “Two months before we got married in court and now we have to convince our parents.” Mitendra did not say anything. I held Mona’s hand and asked her to say something. She said, “ What can I say? Whatever Mayank says, I will do.” Mayank interrupted, “We will observe all the rituals of marriage once the family agrees. Mona is my wife now, so you don’t worry “. The way he spoke did not show any decency and manner. We returned after blessing her.
After the visit, Mona could not be contacted; however, we tried for the last one year. Mitendra was sick with hepatitis. I took him to the hospital but it was too late. His liver failed to respond and so I brought him back home. When he came home, he gave a red colour file which contained all the papers of his properties. Handing the file over to me, he said “I know Mona will come one day, and, when she comes, she will have nothing left. I am her father. She has all the rights to live her life on her own but the real meaning of life, she will come to know later.” Mitendra died and I could not even convey this message to Mona.
For five years we were taking care of his house and the file which he gave. On Christmas night, I woke up suddenly when I heard the sound of an auto rickshaw stop in front of our door. I enquired “Who is out there?” No clear response came. I opened the door and saw a lean and thin lady standing with three lovely daughters. She was none other than Mona. She instantly hugged me. I said, “ Mona, it is okay, relax and come inside”. “Come inside…it’s your house!” I said again. She ran towards the room but she could only find the photo frame of her daddy with a flower garland hung around it. She wept and said, “Forgive me dad, I have hurt you. I never understood you.” After she had calmed down, she shared her story with me.
Mayank loved her, but when three daughters were born successively, he strared to torture her. She was not allowed to go to work. Instead he locked her up at home. Whenever he came home, he used to be upset and unhappy with her. They always fought over some trivial matter. One day when he came, he brought a divorce letter along with him. He asked her to sign it. She was so tired of such pain and torture that she signed the papers. She was thrown out of the house and was totally broken but the relationship with her daughter was made stronger.
Mona came back. She had lost almost everything but she had a strong love for her daughter which no one could take away from her. As being a daughter herself, she understood the love of her father very late but as a mother she ‘realized’ it for her daughters very early…life as a family has to be meaningful and should be lived under the love and care of our parents.
Sch. Ravibhushan Kumar SJ
[Ravibhushan is a I st year student of philosophy at JDV]