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9 Sep 2011

His Daughter

“No, that’s Aarathy. With two ‘a’s and a ‘y’ at the end. No. Yes. And I most definitely need it by tomorrow or I will have to cancel the order and hire someone else to do it on TIME, Mr. Rao.” I took a deep breath before turning to the mountain of work.

‘And what can I do for you, Sir?’ I asked without looking up. I let Mr. Polished-Woodlands talk to the top of my head while I filed all the pending papers. I was buried in work up to my nose and I just didn’t have the time to be my usual effervescent self. Let the guests deal with a grumpy Guest Relations Head this time, I thought.

While I was filing away to glory, I realized that the guy in front of me hadn’t spoken yet. My head snapped up, “Sir, do you…”

I froze.

He stood frozen too. Grey eyes stormy with some unknown emotion, his lips seemed to struggle to form words.

I tried to unchoke myself and failed. It was as if somebody had vacuumed all the words out of my head.

‘Hey, Aarathy,’ he managed.
‘How’s it going?’ In what I hoped was a nonchalant voice. But I had a strong suspicion that it sounded like a strangled chicken fighting for survival.
‘Good, good,’ he sounding a little lost himself.

And all the conversation makers in the world bid adieu and went on vacation.

‘So… ummm… what…’
‘Hey hon, did you find out?’ chirped in the woman in green linking her arm in his and looking enquiringly at me. I stared at him blankly for more reasons than one.

‘Erm… yeah. I was just asking… saying… about…’ he seemed uncomfortable.
With everything. The arm linking, the query he had, me…

‘Uffoo Addu, stop being embarrassed, it’s not that big a deal’ She turned to me and said conspiratorially, ‘Listen, the thing is, we were wondering if there’s any kind of activity that you can provide for our daughter while we, you know, spend some quality time together’ and winked. Adarsh shifted from one foot to another.

Now I just wished I’d been run over by the Dubai metro.

Addu. It’d been 8 years. Long ones. Since I last heard or said that name.
My memory had blocked out the part where his mother had flung the wedding invitation at me face and gone on to enumerate why I’d never ever be anywhere near good enough for her precious son.

Ah well, any guy who can’t stand up for the girl he loved wasn't worth spending time and tears over, I reasoned with myself. It had been my constant mantra, one that gotten me through the darkest days of my life.

But nonetheless, the pang that went through the very depths of my insides let me know that I was far from healed. The fact that jealousy shot through my stomach when she linked her arm with his again, flipped her pretty, long hair and looked at me enquiringly with a perfectly plucked eyebrow, only reaffirmed that my long lost love was anything but lost. A sense of hopeless loss spread through me and I struggled to regain control.

I looked at him; he hadn’t stopped looking at me, almost like he was drinking in the sight of me… like he had a hundred thousand questions to ask. I held his gaze for a second. And looked away.
He was married now.

‘Are you on your honeymoon, Madam?’ I sputtered out. And then kicked myself in the head.
‘Oh no, no’. She laughed. ‘Just a vacation of sorts. We are in room 122 booked under Mr. and Mrs. Unny. So… is there anything you can do?

‘There is the child care service, M’am. It’s complimentary actually. I’m surprised Sada didn’t tell you. Just register for it and leave your child with us.’

I was curious. His daughter.

I took out the forms with slightly shaky hands and started writing..

‘The child’s name, M’am?’
‘Aarathy. That’s with a double ‘a’ and a ‘y’ at the end.’
I raised my face to hers.
‘It’s his favorite name, you know.’ She smiled.

He looked away.
I stood there. Just stood there.