standing in the doorway

A son’s journey home

Mr and Mrs Sinha looked at Aman in disbelief as they saw their son standing in the doorway.

It was Mr. Sinha’s last working day and all he wanted was for his only son to be present at his retirement ceremony. Perhaps, it was just wishful thinking.

Back in the sultry Los Angeles, Aman was packing his bags to visit his parents for the first time in 10 years. He had not seen them after he moved out for academic pursuits. He was all of 18 then. Today, Aman was successful, and as a result, life was busy.

As Aman entered his old home in the sleepy town he grew up in, he expected to be hit by an air of familiarity. He looked for his favourite swing on the lawn, but it was missing. He expected his dog to jump on him, but the hyperactive puppy was now too old to move. Nothing was like he remembered. His parents seemed to have grown a lot older than he imagined. Something in Aman’s heart moved for the first time in years.

Mr. and Mrs. Sinha looked at Aman in disbelief as they saw their son standing in the doorway. Aman walked toward them as they smiled at him rather awkwardly. There was customary hugging followed by small talk. “I am here on some business, dad.” There were questions, but no one was asking them. It was best to say nothing at the moment.

Aman felt deep regret, sadness within as he looked at his parents going about their chores.

At Mr. Sinha’s retirement function, Aman met a lot of strangers who seemed to be thrilled at meeting him. The younger colleagues told him how his father always talks about his son’s achievements. This didn’t seem like the father Aman had known. His harshest critic seemed to actually appreciate him.

After the function, the estranged father-son walked up to the local market, while the overjoyed Mrs. Sinha rushed back home and cook her son’s favourite meal. As dinner preparations continued, Aman saw his ageing mother. She was breathing funny. He remembered how she used to race him back from school. Upon enquiring, she told him about her asthma and fluctuating blood pressure. She carried chocolates with her all the time in case her sugar levels dropped. He also didn’t know that the walking stick in the corner of the room was hers. A tsunami of emotions overwhelmed Aman and he didn’t know what to do with it.

The last few years flashed before his eyes. His exciting, busy life, the rare phone calls to his parents, a customary gift sent now, and then with a friend who was visiting India. What went wrong? When did the easiest relationship in the world become so complicated? Why was there so much distance between a father and son?

Aman felt deep regret, sadness within as he looked at his parents going about their chores. For the first time in years, he realised he was wrong. He felt ashamed for not being by their side when they needed him. Throughout the weekend, a hollow feeling within kept nagging him. He wanted to take their pain away. He wanted to explain to his parents his side of the story. He wanted to cry.

He did none of that. He couldn’t. What he could do was give his father and mother the longest, tightest hug. Tears rolled down their wrinkled faces. Aman sobbed, “I am sorry, ma. I was gone so long.”

Aman was finally home.

Edited by Shalini K Sharma




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