Dev was a courageous, gregarious Army Commander. Hot head, tough and never cared for the world. His juniors lost words and his family cringed at the thought of talking to him. He had earned so much dislike from everyone. People called him Proud.
Strong, Able-bodied and filled with Vigor. Flamboyant looks, Confident and Aggressive. Dev challenged every trusted beliefs of life, humility, goodness, prudence and even providence. He believed in himself rather than fate.
A girl was given to him in marriage, simple, quiet and quiet all the time. She took good care of the family, but never did she understand her husband nor dare speak to him apart from the necessary.
Marriage was just another phase of life. She bore him a son and he named him Harsh. She bore him a daughter and he named her Kavi. Harsh was like his mom, quiet and scared of his father. But Kavi was her father’s likeness. She had the same outspoken and fearless attitude. Strong mind and decisive.
His visit to Kavi’s school was something like a Bollywood star’s visit. He held her hand and she strained her neck to look at tall daddy’s with sheer excitement and pride, while he carried her bag, signed her reports, waited to speak to the teachers about her progress.
He was so busy trying to make his children like himself, that he missed noticing that their beautiful childhood was passing him by. More that anyone Kavi searched for the “Daddy Charm”. She wanted to be daddy’s princess, but Daddy was far.
Daddy was a responsible father, who showed no emotions, and Kavi did not want to believe that he not know how to express his emotions. This emotionlessness became contagious. From ‘Hardly Speaking’, Kavi went onto ‘Not Speaking at All’ to her father.
She missed the ‘my hero daddy’, “I love you daddy”, she silently accepted her father with anger.
Time passed, Kavi wanted to study in the London. With much trembling and fear, mother got the permission from the King of the house.
“Will Daddy miss me” said Kavi’s heart. “He won’t, he is never alone, he always has his pride to keep him company”, replied Kavi’s mind.
London gave Kavi a soul mate. She was prepared to fight it out with her father had he opposed to her marriage. But what hurt her even more, were his words, “Let her do what she wants to, if she trusts her judgement more than ours.” “Has Daddy ever loved me?” her heart could not answer.
Motherhood changed Kavi, holding a tiny life in her arms changed her perspective towards life. Her prejudices stared losing the strongholds in her mind and heart. She was more understanding and forgiving.
Two beautiful children and flourishing career, it’s been a long time since she had visited home. Summer holidays round the corner.
Something in Kavi said, “I want to go home”. Strange feeling. Flight tickets booked, bags packed. There was a sense of urgency and numbness in her thoughts. She arrived home. Mother as usual was delighted to see Kavi and grandchildren.
She scanned through the house, found Daddy sitting in the garden, ‘Nothing, nothing has changed. He is the same. I came running for nothing’.
Mother was the same, simple woman, even after 30 years of Marriage, she runs at one call from Daddy like a humble attendent, eager to take care of him, but scared to talk to him.
Morning passed and evening came. Daddy was still sitting on his throne. “How can anyone be so stone hearted” She thought.
Suddenly her stone hearted daddy moved. He turned towards her, saw her. His eyes teared. He looked at her for few seconds and then went into his room.
Kavi stood like a stone. The Flamboyant Army General had become frail, shoulders drooped, hunched with age, greyed hair, blurred vision, shivering hands, feeble steps. His eyes humble, searching for a someone he could talk to.
Kavi was shattered. It was not for nothing that she was her father’s likeness. She understood his heart. Her father was brought up very strictly, married to her mother, who was scared to speak to her husband. He had no one to understand him.
“How lonely is he, did I have to see his grey hair to understand his heart? How could I and all of us just leave him alone like this. How can I redeem the time lost and the years wasted?
“Shall I make some food for him, he likes fish pickle’. Then she said ‘Am I trying for pay back, can I ever payback”.
Kavi’s father was burdened with guilt of not being able to express his love for his family. He realized that life had almost passed. Kavi thought ‘My daddy helped me carry my school bag, I’ll help him carry his guilt.
Like father, like daughter. Just like her father’s confident and aggressive mind, Kavi reclaimed her daddy.
“Daddy I made fish pickle for you. Come let’s have dinner’. Her father was aghast, shocked that Kavi spoke to him after years. He was so glad that his daughter took the first step towards him.
His eyes glistened with tears. He smiled, wanted to say something, wiped his tears. He was such a happy Daddy. So proud of Kavi, but as usual could not express his emotions. They all sat for dinner, Kavi waited on her daddy while he loved the fish pickle.
“Daddy you have all grey hair now” Kavi said struggling to hold back her tears. Daddy looked at Kavi and they both smiled. Kavi’s son laughed and said “Grandpa, you’ve become Salt and Pepper Daddy”.