How it happened

How it happened

“Nice work, dear. Keep going. Best wishes – Dad” the note read, before I crushed and threw it away, and bashed against the wall, the carefully gift-wrapped box, that he placed over it. “Who the hell do you think you are! Next time you try a stunt like that, I’m moving out.” I shouted at him. If I look back now, there was nothing which I didn’t share with him, that I wrote in there. But you see, I was 17. And I felt intruded, when I found that my diary was opened. It was some silly story that I wrote, which wasn’t finished, and he liked it too much.

He didn’t speak a word, and went to bed without supper. A part in me felt sorry. But the best part of my self was still furious. I didn’t know for how long he had been reading my diary. I could feel the box, probably shattered within the wraps, lay at the corner of my room. I was curious, but didn’t want to open it. I placed it over the cupboard along with my diary, and forgot about it.

My mother’s scream woke me up at around 7, the next morning. I came running downstairs, and she was shaking him. You see, my dad was an early bird, and never missed his morning jog. But his schedule changed after that forever, and he only went out for evening walks, thrice a week, as the doctor prescribed. It was a mild stroke.

After a week, I finally found courage to say that I was sorry. He just smiled. But he never spoke with me as frequently, like he used to, and he never touched my things again. He knocked twice and waited till I say, ‘come in’ before he entered my room, a new practice in our home. Every time he did that, I used to feel uncomfortable. You see, I was feeling guilty to face him, for some reason. I didn’t know how to set things right between us again, and I decided to move out. When asked for the reason, I said that college was too far. He didn’t object.

Later, I met your father at the university, and we got married. Dad came along with mom. He was wearing a black suit. And he was smiling all the time. That was how I remembered him, and that was the time, I saw him the last. Long after he passed, and I’ve got myself landed in a mundane office job, I remembered that I never opened my gift. I entered my room, nearly seven years after I left home. I stepped up my bed and found the box and my diary over the cupboard, exactly where I left them. I rubbed the dust off the book, and unwrapped the box. It was a fountain pen, made in copper, saved by the broken box. The nib was metallic, but it wasn’t rusted a bit.

I rolled over in the bed that night, but I couldn’t sleep. Then I took out the ink pot, filled the copper stem, and focussed my study lamp over the diary. Words rolled out, and I started writing my silly story, from where I’ve left it. And I wrote every night after that, even after I’ve finished that story, and even after I’ve filled up that diary, and many after it. And words still roll out, every time I hold the copper stem between my fingers. So that is how I became a writer. I never said all this to you, when you asked. But I want you to know this. And I want you to have this pen one day, when I’m gone.

Sarah, aged 65, passed away that morning. Catherine opened her mother’s cupboard in the evening, and read the letter. Over it, was the fountain pen, made in copper. She rolled over in her bed that night, but couldn’t sleep. She opened her diary, focussed her study lamp, and held the copper stem between her fingers. Words rolled out.

Avinash Kumar


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