Author – Siddhi Sehgal
I enjoy making a meal for my family. The tender green vegetables, the flavoursome spices, and the colourful dishes were my source of excitement in a predictable and normal life. Snacks and sandwiches were too simple a task for me, but when the sound of the lighter rang out, I was sure to hear a call.
“You are not doing that alone,” mom would say.
“Your hand can burn,” dad would worry.
But that day there was no call of care. Mom was on the left and dad on the right.
‘”They have typhoid,” the doctor said. And that day, as I entered the house with them, I entered a new phase of my life.
Should I sit beside them?
Should I go to study?
Or should I shut the door and cry out loud?
A recipe of emotions, feelings, and hard tasks was shoved up in my face, leaving no clue of what to do. However, the thought of reciprocation crept into my little mind; so accepting fate, I did it all.
The sweet, fresh mornings-waking up to mom’s good morning, the light teasing from dad – all were now past memories. The mornings remained the same; the only thing that changed was waking up to the call of birds.
A terrible feeling! How would a young teenage girl handle the lot that had suddenly befallen her?
Morning till night, it was just work. Even though you had domestic help, who could work like a superhuman, one needs to be up all the time; this is how I had seen my mother and this is what I tried to do.
Household work was one thing; the tougher task at hand was proper care of my parents. Healthy food, medicine on time, complete rest, love, and happy surroundings was what would cure them. For some time, I experienced the effort and pain of my parents when I fell sick. Today, we had exchanged places. The pain was on both sides. If I was facing an early responsibility, they had to see their child working all day long, doing work which they never wanted their princess to do.
For a few days I was troubled. There was anger too, and irritation was high. But that one dream, the dream of that fortunate night, changed it all. The situation which I abused for having come to me, I now saw happiness in it.
The following mornings were much brighter. It was not challenges but victory, not sorrows but joy, and not an end but a beginning. I was excited to do all the household chores- cooking, dusting, ironing and everything else, everything that my mom had been doing perfectly for so many years. Definitely, the same perfection was not achieved, but it was close to hers. I was happy to take care of my ‘big babies’, who would be either in bed sleeping or staring at me.
The thought of old age disturbs everyone, the fear of loneliness stares at you. It happened to dad and an unstoppable flow of tears followed.
“What would we do when they both go?” Dad would say.
It is no surprise when people say that father and daughter share a strong bond. We are two sisters and we are both our dad’s princesses. Day and night he stood for us, so once if we can be there for him, it would make him happy.
Life had taken a complete turn for me. The satisfaction was that nothing was lost, but only gained. Today, when we all sit together and remember those frightful days, we laugh at those moments of joy in sorrow – whether it was dad’s crying baby face that made us laugh, or my first chapatti (kind of triangular), or the oldie look that my mom wore, or the hard task it was for my sister to cut a fruit.
Now I am out of my teens, ideally an adult now. But it was then that I had become an adult, a mature one, and an unusual confidence had developed in me. I learnt a lot. I got the happiness of seeing my parents back in health and now when they say, “Siddhi made us stand”, there remains no guilt. I have proud parents.
Life gave me a chance to say, “I have grown up early!”
This story submitted as part of our Short Story Contest