Afternoon! Ah! What a privileged part of the day to be in. The morning rush has subsided, life’s flurry has been decently dealt with (at least for the day), the dusky evening is yet to arrive. Somewhere, sandwiched in the middle, comes the sublime afternoon. A sunny silent patch in the frantic pace of life.
Pyare Papa and I are sitting in the sun, which is shining after days of hide and seek. The ‘Sun and Us’ (father-daughter duo) make a perfect combo, like the ‘Coffee and Conversation.’ Chairs are pulled out in the veranda, newspapers and books spread on the table, a water bottle dots the corner, and the universally acclaimed cup of ‘Chai’ completes the picture.
For larger part of the day, we occupy our seats in the veranda, pretending to be busy so that ‘the mother’ does not notice and give us some house errands to run. Remember, we both are B+ and among other similar traits, we love spending time in the sun doing nothing. Just whiling away time, contemplating the meaning of life.
We love soaking in the sun for the longest stretches anyone can imagine. No one is match enough for our abilities to sunbathe. ‘The Mother’ march in the veranda after winding up her whirlwinding house tour. She assimilate her dose of Vitamin D while turning and twisting the clothes hanging in the sun for drying, and march inside the house after sometime, to spruce up her castle (what? Her home, of course). Siblings and “A” too keep their date with the sun but like well-mannered guests, don’t overstay. They, too, leave the veranda after some time. But Pyare Papa and I?
We overstay to every limit imaginable. W still yearn for that last thread of sunshine left. We shift and adjust our chairs every five minutes in the narrow crevices of the veranda where some rays are still penetrating. We try to tightly hold the sunlight in our hands, which, like life, only slips away. Yet, we try, in vain of course. Such is our love for the sun.
Pyare papa is sitting quietly and so am I. He is unerringly silent. I try to make a conversation but is greeted by his monosyllable. I don’t push further. I look at him from the corner of my eye. He looks weak, somewhat pale. My eyes well up at the thought that here is my father who taught me everything about life (without a frown ever) and now he is aging, something I never noticed before.
He no longer looks the same young papa I had grown up seeing.
His greys are more noteworthy and the moustache is gone. His energy has weaned a little. I am no longer the young daughter I once was. He no longer instructs with the same authoritative tone he used to. Now, he says it plainly. I am no longer the daughter who obeyed him, without questioning. I offer my counterviews on things he say. I have gained wisdom, or so I believe. He no longer argues back. He goes silent. Whether I obey him or not, he doesn’t react. A man of words chooses silence. He has become wiser, indeed. I can see papa getting weary after sitting for long. He leaves for his afternoon nap, something he never used to have, until now.
Suddenly, the birds start chirping, breaking the afternoon silence and my chain of thoughts. The sun has subsided. The afternoon is making way for the beautiful evening. I get up and collect my belongings to go inside the house. Along with my chair, book, laptop and the water bottle, I also pack my day’s memories of the sunny afternoon spent with Pyare papa. In the silence of my heart, without uttering a word. Secretly cherishing the much prized, his physical presence, in my life.
May be, he did the same. That is, cherished my presence in his life, secretly. After all, we both are B+.
(Pic credit: All images in the post have been taken from the Internet)