I can feel the taste of cold fear as my heart pumped furiously in my throat.
The report card had to be signed. What use was a report card if it was not signed?
I’ll wait till morning when father would be motionless on the bed. I’ll sneak it quietly to mother to sign. Father is out of town, I’d tell the disbelieving teachers. Pray, why did they insist that the report card needed to be signed by the father?
What if he was a sweet old fool, who did not care what grades you got? What then?
These teachers, they know. They can smell your fear.
He would have to be told eventually. But somehow that seemed acceptable. As if the time lapse was enough to dull the shock.
I don’t quite remember how he reacted. But as the years went by, the report card was placed in his hands first. He would nod. He was happy. His prayers were finally being answered. My daughter, a doctor. No, that was too simple. My daughter, a surgeon. Or better still an IFS (Indian Foreign Service) officer.
He must have hurt, surely. And to be fair to him, my career choice was not something that could be the subject of stories to be told to visiting family and friends with pride.
He gave his silent consent. He let me make my own path.
And surely when he lay on that hospital bed gasping for his last breath he would have remembered me.
I miss him.
(This picture was taken by me when I got my newspaper colleagues to write down their wishlist of stuff they would like to do before they called it quits.)