"Sukhi raha, Beta"

By Asmita Javdekar in Stories
Updated 11:06 IST May 17, 2019

Views » 794 | 3 min read

I chanced upon him at a subway station in New York. It had been a few years since I had heard anyone speak with that nasal stalwart Puneri twang which I so detested while growing up in our very typical "Koknastha Brahmin" household. However, on that very cold January morning, in a country which still felt somewhat foreign, the Marathi falling on my ears was like wisps of sunshine warming the cockles of nostalgia.
My tapping on his shoulder was almost involuntary.
"Namaskar!Me Vidya Joglekar, Kasba Peth, Pune"

"Namaste, Me Shrirang Datey, Sadashiv Peth" he replied with the most magnanimous smile and kind eyes I had ever seen.

We met almost every day after that, sometimes for coffee, sometimes over lazy lunches but most of the time for long walks at the Central Park. All we ever did was speak. In a way, it was therapeutic. I emptied all those emotions so deeply buried within me. I wept, he offered me his shoulder.
I vented out all my frustrations and helplessness and he gave me a patient hearing.
He was a man of few words but he stood by me, no matter what.
Three years ago, I left my hometown for my post-graduate studies. My first time living without my parents, first time outside India, first air travel as well.
Aai, Baba, Dada were all there to bid me farewell at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. I touched Baba's feet and he blessed me "Sukhi raha, Beta"
Little did I know then that it was the last time I was seeing my Baba.
On his way back to Pune, he had a massive heart attack and was declared dead by the time they reached the hospital.
I could not go back!! We did not have the means.
To deal with grief, I wrote many letters to God, seeking answers to all my questions, desperately hoping to hear back.

Today, its been exactly three years to that dreadful day.
Sitting on the park bench, I am waiting with a bunch of white gladioli, Baba's favourite flowers.

I see him from a distance. He is a little man. His blue and white sports shoes look a little queer paired with his lemon yellow shirt neatly tucked inside his wrinkle-free, high waisted formal black trousers.

As he inches closer, I hand him the gladioli and touch his feet.

"Happy Father's Day."

Shrirang's kind eyes are filled with tears as he pats on Vidya's back.
"Sukhi raha, beta."(Stay Happy, my child)

Indeed, God has strange ways of sending answers!

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