That morning we had visited the Futala Lake again. It was a different scenario than it is in the evenings. There were morning walkers. Some were doing Yoga by the lake. There was a group carrying huge DSLRs. I read “Nagpur Photographic Society” painted on the back of their T-shirts. The one word that crossed my mind: Cool. Apart from them were bikers. They were spending their energy on making artistic black track marks on the pavements adjacent to the lake. I have had never seen a live performance before, only a recorded advertisement on the television with the ominous disclaimer. So this was new for me. I thought about them and several other things I had discovered in Nagpur as I walked alongside my father that evening.
We were outside. Our eyes scanned for a place to dine in. It had stopped raining for the time being. It was my last evening in Nagpur. My one month was over. It was time to bid farewell to this beautiful city until we see each other again.
My Dad stopped me and said he needed a haircut. There was a barber shop across the road.
Mid-way through the hair cut session, when the barber worked on the finer details I glanced my father’s way. His eyes were closed. He reminded me suddenly of my brother who used to wear the same expression whenever he was at the barber’s place himself. Without any warning the thought of my father being young hit me.
He was once a child like my brother and me. He was once a spirited young man.
The thought that he was once my age, learning life’s hard rules was reeling. I have always looked up to him as someone who always knew the right thing to do. Someone who isn’t capable of making mistakes. But he has told me stories of times when he was young and gullible, about the times he had made mistakes. I had just heard them as stories before, but now as I sat there watching him- those stories finally sunk in. They were real. Things he now laughs off as “nothing” today were something that pained him once. At that one moment he looked so vulnerable. I felt helpless that I could do nothing to protect him.
Life is an eternal process of learning. He has yet so much to learn like I myself do. That very moment I made a silent vow that whatever be the situation I will never leave his side or my mom’s or my brother’s side. Never. My parents, both of them have spent half of their lives in making sure my brother and I were happy. Sometimes they did commit mistakes but they were only learning. Being angry at them or holding a grudge against them would never help matters work. Family’s all we have got.
“What’s wrong?” , Dad asked with a look of worry. He must have noticed the intensity with which I was watching him.
“Nothing. You look great.” I waved off with a smile. He checked his reflection in the mirror.
“Oh, I know.” He smiled.