“Thirty years ago I was a young man”
“No; thirty years ago you were a bastard”.
Maria had never used such vulgar words, especially to her husband. But after the incidents, her anger, shame and worries had made her utter the word which she despised most. She could not control any longer- she sobbed, she cried. John felt very helpless. He wanted to apologize to her but could not; he knew it was too late.
A beautiful, healthy baby boy was born few days ago. The arrival of the unfortunate baby started the dispute between Lillian and Robert, the father and mother of the baby. Outright, the father denounced the baby and cancelled the engagement. But nobody blamed him for doing what he did.
Lillian and Robert `was a couple in their early twenties. They were engaged to be married after Lillian gave birth. They both had ordinary, presentable African features but the new born baby had a strong Caucasian trait.
Lillian swore she had never had any sexual relationship with any other man except with her fiancé, Robert. But he was not ready to accept. He was sure the child was not his.
When secrets started coming out in the open naturally, Lillian’s mother had to tell the truth to her daughter. Lillian was not the real daughter of the man whom she was made to believe and call father. Her real father was of mixed blood-European father and African mother.
Lillian felt disgusted. She accused her mother of hiding the facts from her and spoiling her future. She requested Robert to reconsider for the sake of the baby. She told him the truth about her real father. Robert insulted Lillian, blamed her for lying to him and called her names. Lillian tolerated all. She was ready to protect her child. She did not like her son to consider another man as his father while his own father was known. What she had experienced, she would not allow it to happen to her child.
She tried to persuade Robert but when Robert became adamantly stubborn and abusive, she sued him. The court ordered for a DNA test.
“Something is wrong here”-the specialist doctor was scolding his junior who prepared the slide. “Perhaps you mixed the blood samples. Make another one, quick.”
Again the same picture. The specialist was confused. He had to consult his fellow colleagues. They concluded the only way to solve the problem was to get a proper history first. They could be closely related.
They were given an elaborate counseling.
It was Robert’s turn to find out about his origin. His mother who brought him up as a single parent died 2 years ago.
He approached his aunties for help. They all refused to help him; they did not like to disturb the resting soul of their beloved sister. Fear engulfed him whenever he thought of possibilities of him and Lillian to be children of the same unknown father.
Lillian’s mother provided them the clue. She could not tell about his where about but at least the name was disclosed and a small photo was given to them. It made them much easier to find John.
Eight months had passed by since the baby was born. They had located John, he fitted all the descriptions. Both noticed the far similarities of their noses. Question arose-who and how to approach him.
Robert took the chance. He followed John in a bar and approached him politely; told him about the DNA test and genetic findings. John was not ready to comply. Exchange of abusive words took place. Robert just needed few drops of blood and few strands of hair from John. He hit him hard with his fists, which had a ring with stone. John bled. Robert took out his handkerchief and dabbed the blood and managed to pull out some loose strands of hair. John grabbed Robert’s neck and strangulated him.
People from the bar separated them. Robert apologized to the public saying it was a family matter between father and son and paid for the damage. John was about to protest but Robert pulled him outside and threatened to take him to the police and get legal permission for DNA testing after publicly announcing or settle the matter there and then quietly. He told him the reason for hitting him and showed him the blood stained handkerchief and hair strands. John saw the hatred in Robert’s burning eyes. Before John said a word, Robert walked out.
The final DNA test result was out. All four of them shared common characters.
Robert felt humiliated, ashamed and guilty for the insults and injustice he did to Lillian. He could not even look at Lillian after the results were out. He went straight to John. Fortunately, he found only John and his wife Maria in the house. Rest of the family had gone out. He did not like to meet the others anyway.
He threw the results on John’s face and asked him how many more Roberts and Lillians were out in the streets.
Maria had not been told what was about the entire scenario. She demanded an explanation. John ordered Robert to get lost. Maria stopped him. She told John she would like to hear from him first. He refused.
Robert told Maria everything with disgust. John still insulted him as a liar. While Maria was still reading the results, Robert left the place. He heard Maria calling him to wait; he did not even look back.
Lillian felt equally ashamed but at least she had something to console;-she proved herself to be honest and trustworthy to Robert. Her mother was supportive of her decisions.
Robert was all alone amidst the multitude of new found blood relatives. Before he knew he had relatives, he had a comfortable and peaceful life. At that moment, he wished he never met Lillian. If it was another girl, all those happenings would have not been there and he would have continued with his peaceful life. The more he thought about it, the more he felt messy and guilty towards the child and Lillian. His anger towards John grew in multitude. The facts were not negotiable. It would remain lifelong not only during his lifetime but during the whole life of the little baby. “My father is my uncle or my mother is my aunt-that is what he would have to tell people”-Robert spoke to himself.
Robert found it intolerable. His and his family’s life would remain as “Life of questions without answers”. His life was meaningless already. “Then why to live”-he asked himself and he could not get the answer.
He sat down and drafted a note. Reread it several times. Found satisfactory. Contacted a lawyer, legalized the context. Went to a nearby Internet café, wrote a final e-mail to Lillian
By the time you read this mail, I will be gone. Take care of my baby. Contact my lawyer. I have left all I had in your name.
Do me a favour. Please pass on this note which you will find with my body to John along with my mother’s box lying in my bed room.
And he pressed the button “Send”.
The next day, after reading the mail, Lillian rushed to the police station. The police found his body hanging on the ceiling fan, in his room with a letter strapped on his palm.
Lilian and her mother buried John with all the due respects and rituals.
When the funeral formalities were over and the lawyer has given a go ahead clearance, Lilian opened the note:
For the first time in my life I got the opportunity to call somebody “father” but I am not lucky enough to hear the response.
For the mistakes you made, we are paying the price. I do not wish to continue ashaming Lillian’s and baby’s lives. I am returning the secret treasure box of my late mother where she treasured the cards you gave her and a key whose meaning only you and my mother knew.
After two months, Lillian walked towards John’s house pushing the pram. Her son Robin, one year old, was sitting in the pram playing with a wrapped package.
Maria opened the gate, welcomed them but Lillian declined.
“We just want to deliver this package personally to Father, if he is around”.
John heard them; he came out. Lillian lifted her son and the little boy handed over the package to John and smiled.
“Come in”-Maria invited them again.
“Thank you. We are in a hurry” and they went away.
John remained there standing in a trans. He saw his image in the little boy.
“Call them back, please”-he pleaded Maria.
Maria came out to the gate; saw the tail light of the taxi disappearing in the dust.
His hands were shaking, could not even hold the package nicely. Maria helped him to unpack. There was a letter and a small package inside.
“Read it out for me.”
“How could you do all these unspeakables?”-Maria was furious.
“Thirty years ago, I was a young man.”
“NO, thirty years ago you were a……..”
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