Prashant was surrounded by a group of people, a mixture of men and women. They were all old, and on wheel chairs. Prashant had a wide grin on his face. He was saying something to the group in a very animated way, and they were listening intently.
As he came closer to the group, he heard his father say, ‘ then Nandu took me to Venice. We had a gala time touring the city on gondolas!’
He was very confused. He was Nandu. It was short for Nandan. Nandan Kumar. But, he had never taken his father to Venice. What was his father talking about?
Prashant then said, ’when my Nandu comes to take me away from here, I’l take all of you along with me. Then we will all go to Venice.’
The group exulted. There was a wave of euphoria. The old haggard faces lit up with wide grins.
Nandan was taken aback. Is this what his father expected of him? To come back and get him? Wasn’t his father happy?
When Nandan had taken the decision of sending his father to the old age home, he had done so for the good of his father. It was suiting his purpose as well, obviously. The arrangement was superb. Then, why did his father want to come back home?
Nandan stopped to ponder for a minute. He remembered the day his father had come home from America. He was only five years old then, but he remembered the day well. He ran to the door and jumped into his fathers arms. He loved being in the big strong arms of his father. He felt loved and protected. He then asked his father what he’d got for him, from America.
‘Nothing,’ said Prashant, and then pulled out a couple of chocolates from his shirt pocket.
Beaming with joy, Nandu jumped up and down with glee. His father then gave him the red shirt and demin shorts that he was wearing in the dream. Nandu left the chocolates and ran into his room, to try the clothes on. He was very happy that day.
Nandan remembered the day when his mother had died. He was nine years old then. He cried a lot, because he could not find his mother anywhere in the house. His father held him, in his big, strong arms, and consoled him. His father promised to take good care of him. And he did that so well.
Nandan had always looked up to his father. He loved him. He was also very scared of him.
The day when Nandan failed in his Math Exam, he was very scared to confront his father. The Principal of his school called up his father and complained. Nandan expected a shouting. His father only asked him to do better the next time.
He remembered the time when he was leaving India, for Harvard. His father was at the airport to see him off. Prashant had a very proud look on his face. His son was going to Harvard.
‘I’l wait for you to come back beta. Do me proud.’ was all Prashant said that day.
Nandan had done very well at Harvard. He finished top of his class, and got a very good job with an American Firm. He was posted in India, at a very high level.
And then, in the pursuit of his career objectives, he had forgotten his father. He had forgotten the very man who had made him what he was today. He had been ungrateful.
He had sent his father to an old age home.
He felt very sorry. He had tears streaming down his cheeks. He wanted to apologize to his father, and take him back home.
‘Papa will surely forgive me. I made a mistake. Papa will not shout at me. He will surely forgive me and come back home with me,’ thought Nandan.
He walked up to his father. ‘Papa, I’ve come to take you,’ said Nandan.
‘Who are you?’ inquired Prashant, ‘What are you talking about?’