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Mending Impossible Fences

Discussion in 'Stories (Fiction)' started by twinsmom, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. twinsmom

    twinsmom Silver IL'ite

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    This was written for a contest. The first sentence was given. We had to spin a tale out of it!

    I didn't dare look over my shoulder. I knew if I did, it would all be over. My own defences would come crumbling down like the walls of Jericho. God knows I had striven day and night to become what I am today. And I don’t want to jeopardise all that I had achieved in mere sentimental crap…
    ‘‘Sentimental crap?’’ chided my conscience. “How many sleepless nights have you spent tossing and turning just because you could not forget what you call sentimental crap now?’
    'Oh shut up,' I snapped at my conscience which had taken a doppelganger existence recently, constantly pestering me with its unwarranted presence at unnecessary times… 'I can do without your smartass digs at me.' Yet, I felt a little troubled…a trifle guilty. The old man had looked rather frail. The unqualified professional in me could sense that all was not well with the old goat. It had taken all my resolve to turn a deaf ear to the slightest waver in that voice that had terrified me with its stentorian tone for 25 years… But I was not ready yet to forgive him for his transgressions… after all I am just a human being… It is not in me to act God!
    The truth is, it still hurt… Seeing him today has ripped open an old wound that had been healing… slowly but progressively. Now it was throbbing as though someone had poured a cupful of tincture into it. I tried to dab at my pain with a wad of resentment, hardening my heart and building up my defences as I had 10 years back…

    10 years back… 10 long years back, I had severed one relationship. Funny how one can successfully amputate a healthy organ and live to tell… Look at me now... I am the living example for that. I have learnt that with will power one can survive any post operative trauma.

    Growing up in the auspices of an eminent surgeon may sound ideal for some but for me it was very irksome. As far back as I can remember, I have had this thing called legacy thrown at me. It was as though I had been begotten and raised for the sake of playing a tailor-made role… of being a mere link in the chain called family tradition. I had no penchant for the medical profession by the time I was a teenager. I wanted to blaze a new trail…but the lone voice of a stuttering teenager had drowned in the Babel of expectations and calls of duty…

    Bulldozed by parental pressure I had succumbed and entered the portals of the medical college where my father, the most eminent surgeon of his days was the Principal. My maladies started afresh. I was shunned by my peers who accused me of being a scab. The semesters and years spent were like swimming against the current… And yet, to please the old man I slogged… to do him proud... but I never got any appreciation.

    It was at that time that two things happened in my life that brought about a sea change to my existence. Prateek Malhotra, my batchmate, was ‘discovered’ by my old man. Malhotra had participated in a seminar chaired by the old man and had charmed him by his dedication and fervour to the profession. Soon he was taken under the wings by the old man and I revelled in my luck that the oldman would now leave me alone. The more involved he became with Malhotra, the more freedom I got. And I took the opportunity to explore life as I wanted and I discovered a theatre of a different kind…

    I had always had a liking for literature and my secret ambition had been to pursue Literature as a field of study, an idea pooh – poohed by the patriarch. So, while the cat was away, the mouse in me found time to play… I joined the amateur theatre group called Casting Coach and had fun exploring the different side to my personality I had hitherto kept buried in my sub-conscience. As months rolled by I shelved my studies and concentrated on my new passion and soon the semester was about to end and like storm clouds in the horizon exams loomed ahead.

    Taking a sabbatical from my hobby I turned to my medical books… I felt happy that the old man hadn’t noticed anything amiss…or so I thought. I wondered if anyone had complained about my absence from the campus and classes but consoled myself that I’d have known if anyone had yapped to the old man.

    Exams were difficult as I had yawning gaps in my leaning… yet, I felt I would scrape through. After all, my previous records were decent enough. But my complacence came a cropper when I overheard a conversation between my old man and the Dean. I don’t normally eavesdrop. It is not my style. But the pleading tone in the Dean’s voice and his mentioning my name made me listen. What they say about eavesdroppers not hearing good things about themselves, is right… what I heard made me tremble with unease first and sheer anger later. Obviously I hadn’t done well in one paper… disastrously in fact. The Dean wanted the old man’s permission to doctor my results so that I passed… and the old man refused. As I listened to him I realised that he had known all about my transgressions and wanted to punish me.

    “Fail him,” he relentlessly told the Dean. “He needs a lesson. That’s it then…” he had dismissed the Dean cutting his words of appeal short.

    I had been enraged and confronted him right after the Dean’s departure. He had been unmoved by my pleas. I was about to beg his forgiveness when he said something to my Grandfather’s portrait, that dealt one solid punch on my solar plexus. “Why couldn’t Prateek Malhotra have been my son!”

    I had walked out of his house that day… and stayed out till today. Life took me to many places and taught me many lessons and I never returned… May be I was chip off the old block and my own pride kept me from revisiting him. Fame came my way and I got recognition for my literary pursuits. Somehow awards and laurels left me hankering after something vague inside my heart. I never admitted to myself that elusive thing was my old man’s approval.

    Last week, in Dubai, I ran into Dr. Prateek Malhotra… rather he ran into me in a get together thrown by a socialite friend of mine. Nursing a Bloody Mary, he eyed me curiously before telling me that my old man is suffering from terminal cancer. Did I know that? How would I? I hadn’t seen him in ten years. You should, Malhotra told me… He doesn’t have much time.

    That was why I had opened these huge gates and entered the premises where a terminal disease ruled the roost now. If I expected him to have changed, I was a greater fool than what I had rated myself to be… He had been his usual harsh self… though I could sense faint traces of feelings in that voice… Seeing him as a ghost of the man I remembered him to be shattered my heart. Yet, I stood straight as a ramrod, relentlessly raising a barrier against all emotions.

    It was as though two could play at the game. His barbed words about my success were intended to hurt… Strangely they didn’t hurt as much. I stood there pretending to be a stranger and not making eye contact. Then something he said made me look at him sharply. Had I heard right? Did he ask me to really get out? As my startled eyes met his, I saw in front of me, a weak old man struggling to hold on to the last shreds of his arrogance as paternal emotions triggered by ill health and old age were swarming him.

    I didn’t want to crow over him… I couldn’t take it anymore… I knew he loved me still and cared about me… as I did, way inside me. If I stayed another minute, he’d crumble. And I couldn’t bear that… I’d rather remember him as a lion… not as a pathetic hyena.

    Take care, I muttered before walking out…
    I didn't dare look over my shoulder. I knew if I did, it would all be over… I would see the death of a personality… God forbid that I do that to him…make him emotionally kneel down in front of me. I just kept walking…mentally pushing my conscience down…
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  2. Arunarc

    Arunarc Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Hi Twinsmom
    Wow with just one sentence you have created such beautiful story, I should say. I should thank the Administrators for asking us to dig in unanswered threads and answer them.. What a treasure hidden in these past threads. Really enjoying my days reading such master pieces.
    yes many a time as parents they want the kids to follow they foot step and do what they have studied they never want the opinion of the kid what he/she want to study or be in life. Even after so many years when his kid is so successful in life I thought the old man will forgive him but sometimes elders are too stubborn or is that that they don't know how to show or shower they love on they kids.
    You have written this situation so well hats off to you....
  3. rgsrinivasan

    rgsrinivasan IL Hall of Fame

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    " I’d rather remember him as a lion… not as a pathetic hyena." - Beautifully said the intent in just 1 line. Very glad to read this at least now, TwinsMom. -rgs
  4. blackbeauty84

    blackbeauty84 IL Hall of Fame

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    Really well written twin mom.
    Goodwork, Arunarc by discovering it.
  5. shashiv

    shashiv Gold IL'ite

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    Very well narrated....

  6. Mohur

    Mohur Gold IL'ite

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2012

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