(a fiction short story)
The moment I saw the e-mail I did two things. First I took a print-out of the mail and then I booked my ticket on the next flight to India. The e-mail contained a name and an address. That’s all – a name and an address.
I cannot begin to describe the emotion I felt as I looked at the name. I had so many questions to ask him.
It all began when Anil suddenly broke off our engagement.
“Why?” I asked him totally shocked.
“I can’t tell you,” he said.
“You can’t dump me just like this. I’ve done nothing wrong,” I pleaded heartbroken.
“I’m sorry, Rita. I can’t marry you. I don’t want to marry you.”
“You have to give me an explanation. I am not going to accept this.”
“You have to accept it. And don’t delve too much.”
“What do you mean ‘don’t delve too much’, you unscrupulous cheat,” I screamed in anger, taking hold of his collar.
“Cool down,” he said pushing me away. “It’s you who tried to cheat me. You shouldn’t have tried to hide things from me.”
“Hide what ?” I asked.
“That you are an adopted child,” he said.
“I’m not adopted,” I shouted in anger.
“Who told you ?”
“We got some matrimonial enquiries done.”
“You spied on me,” I accused him, “to blackmail me, to humiliate me?”
“Don’t worry, no one else knows. It’s a reliable and discreet investigation agency.”
“It’s not true. I’m not adopted,” I said feeling shattered, numb, as if I had been pole-axed.
“Why don’t you ask your parents ?” Anil said as he walked away from my life.
I never asked my parents. I did not have the heart to. They did not say anything to me but I could see the sadness and a sense of guilt in their eyes, as they withered away having lost the will to live. I felt helpless. They loved me, meant everything to me, and we carried on our lives as if nothing had happened, and I caringly looked after them till their very end; but deep down I felt terribly betrayed.
Years passed. I relocated abroad past and immersed myself in my work. I tried to forget but I could not. One day I could bear it no longer. I decided to find out. And now I had. The investigation agency had done a good job. Confidential and discreet. For the first time I knew the name of my actual father. My biological natural father. And now I had to meet this man and ask him why he did it – abandon me to the world.
I landed at Mumbai airport early in the morning ant it took me three hours by taxi to reach the bungalow in Khandala. I checked the nameplate and briskly walked inside. There was a small crowd gathered in the porch. His lifeless body was lying on a white sheet bedecked with flowers, ready for the last rites. As I looked at his serene face, tears welled in my eyes. Suddenly I lost control of myself and cried uncontrollably, “ I have become an orphan. An orphan !”
“ Me too,” a familiar voice said softly behind me. I turned around and stared into Anil’s eyes. As comprehension began to dawn on me, Anil and I kept looking into each other’s eyes. In silence. A grotesque silence. A deafening silence.