It was inevitable. She had always known that this day was bound to come, but when Sarah’s eyes landed on the figure standing at the doorstep, shock nevertheless consumed her. Barely half a minute ago, she had been more than ready to hit the sack after a tiring day at work. Who knew that the sight of the tall, burly man in the doorway would be strong enough to make her an insomniac for God knows how long?
Perhaps it was evanesce of memory, but he’d seemingly grown a head taller and a lot more rugged since the last time she’s seen him. Her visitor’s murky green orbs stared blankly from beneath his unshaven cowlicks, in spite of which, Sarah recognized him unmistakably. It had been a long time since this particular nauseated feeling had enveloped her. The last time was also because of this man – the man who had no right to call himself such, but was unfortunately her father.
Running a hand through her hair, she broke the deafening silence, “what do you want?”
His expression shifted slightly, and she thought she might have seen him flinch at her noncommittal tone. His stutter about coming to see her made it seem as though he was unprepared for this encounter. As her father rambled on, the young-adult in front of him tried to muster enough patience to control her hatred towards him.
After a few minutes, she could no longer take it. Holding up a hand, Sarah exclaimed, “I asked what you wanted. Coming to see me is clearly an excuse, as you wouldn’t have given two hoots if I were dead these past twelve years. So stop trying to show that you care.” She knew she was being harsh, but it was high time she stopped caring what this man thought or felt about her. It had taken way too long trying to come to terms with her haunted past, the ghost of which was this very human being.
She wanted to say more; wanted to accuse him for her ruined childhood, but the tears caught in her throat. Crying in front of this cold blooded male chauvinist is the last thing I want right now she thought, and hence remained silent, waiting for him to speak instead.
“I…I had no place to go.” He swallowed at last. The voice was barely a whisper, and she let him into the house, more so because the air from outside was chilling for her; else she wouldn’t have minded letting him stay outside. The thought of slamming the door on his face and putting an end to everything did cross her mind, but she had been taught better. Moreover, a vengeful, devilish side of her wanted to know more about the dirty game karma had played.
Within the next fifteen minutes – most of which were occupied with his disfluencies – it unraveled that her visitor had been turned out of his own house by his second family.
“The boys…they…umm…they wanted a share in the property. Were stubborn enough to take it to court. I…I lost everything. I’ve been on the streets for three days. Umm…I got your address then…” His voice trailed off. Sarah couldn’t help the smirk forming on her lips as the word ‘karma’ flashed across her mind. As he continued to mourn over his broken life, a messy divorce
with his second wife and nasty children, Sarah’s thoughts drifted, and severe nostalgia took over, and the flashback of her eight year old self clouded her thoughts…
“Bye dad! We’ll be back soon.” The seven year old tried to hug her father goodbye, but didn’t so much as receive a grunt in response. Curious, she tried again, unaware of the events that had gone down earlier that day. Young Sarah wasn’t used to being ignored, and her curiosity increased with each attempt to gain her father’s attention. His face was hidden behind a newspaper, and his entire demeanor exuberated arrogance, yet, the child trying to gain his interest had an innocent sparkle in her eye.
The smile on her face faltered slowly, as realization of being rejected was inculcated for the very first time. Finally, she gave up and leaned against the sitting room doorway with innocent tears in her eyes, unable to discern what was happening. Upon asking her mother, Sarah got the silent treatment, which added onto the anxiety. All she knew was that this was far worse than any fight her parents had ever had.
While they were driving away from the house she’d grown up in, Sarah’s face suddenly became pale, and blood oozed out of her nostrils. The last thing she remembered was her mother speeding towards the hospital in panic.
She later woke up in the hospital, breathing with the help of an oxygen tank, surrounded by family members. Her first words were murmured after she had gazed around the room,
In response, she only saw the worried and anguished faces of her visitors who looked at one another, making the silence in the room feel vociferous. As she lay in the hospital day after day, Sarah stubbornly refused to eat, as a result of which she had to be given further injections. The doctor’s gave the ultimatum of her death, because the stress she was taking was constricting her blood vessels. With her hemoglobin level close to three, they said they couldn’t help her if she wasn’t ready to get better herself.
One night, while pretending to sleep, Sarah overheard her mother talking to someone,
“I’m just so worried about her. I even called him to tell him. After all, she is his daughter. As usual, I never got a response. In spite of the divorce, he should at least come and visit Sarah.”
“What did the doctor say? The poor soul’s grown so weak. I really hope she gets better soon.”
“They say she’s taking a lot of stress and doesn’t want to get better. I didn’t want to leave her there with that horrible man, mother. What could I have done? It just happened so suddenly…”
“I thought you decided not to tell Sarah about the divorce.”
“I didn’t. She stayed back for a while as I waited in the car. Something may have happened then, because she suddenly grew sick in the car.”
“So you have full custody of her now?”
“Good. Take care of her. I will never forget the words her father uttered the day she was born. Just let her study and be successful. Fate will handle the rest, I promise you that. The day she achieves something in life will be the day these pests are truly defeated. I stand by you. I always will. The atrocities he committed are unforgivable. My advice to you would be to accept the past and raise her well.”
Lying there that day, seven year old Sarah couldn’t understand these words. But now, in her final year of law school, with her father in front of her, she knew she had won. She was glad her mother had raised her well and always supported her. The relative in the hospital that day had been correct. While her father had been busy remarrying and having sons, she had proved to be better. After all, at the end of the day, he had come to her begging for help. Nature had taken its course, and it had done so in the best possible way.
Hurt and fury simultaneously erupted within her, but this was only palpable in her smoldering hazel eyes, because her tone was kept in check,
“Well, I clearly cannot do anything for you. So it’s better that you leave, and stay out of my life. Haven’t you already ruined it enough? You’re only paying for what you’ve done. You wanted sons, you got them. I was never important, so I ask again: why are you here?”
“I…I…” Spellbound he sat helpless, “I don’t…know.”
“Well, then I very politely suggest you leave.”
Tears finally trickled down Sarah’s cheeks when her visitor left. She sat against the closed door, hugging her knees, as she wept the night away. She didn’t know why she cried after all this time, but turmoil of emotions was swirling within her soul, uncontrollable.
Written by: Rida Faisal.