The long goodbyeWhen you look into the emptiness, the emptiness looks right back
I am glad your uncle Ramesh took this photograph of us. The first time I got to hold my princess. I felt that your sparkling eyes were searching for me—that you recognised me. I felt that you would say Baba at that very moment. You were not crying—just looking at me. I was already a proud father with you in my arms. I made promised to myself then that I would always be there for you.
This one is a picture of your first day at school. You were so excited to wear the new school uniform of yours. I had ironed it twice on your request—a blue shirt and a white skirt. Your mother dressed you up so neat. Then you came to me to flaunt your new look and your new school bag. You looked ready to take on the world.
But that was short-lived. No sooner the schoolbus came to pick you up, you broke down in tears. The way you were crying over my shoulders, I thought I would never send you to school. Thankfully, your mother had the guts to carry you to the bus, or otherwise I would have never sent you to school.
Here is another photograph. This one is when you were recovering from Typhoid. I also remember that night as if it was yesterday. Your mother and I had to take you to the hospital at dead of the night, as you puked everything you ate. That entire week that your were in the hospital, I could not catch any sleep. It was like the storm was brewing in my mind, and it did not recede until you had completely recovered. There is little else you can do when things are not in your control anymore.
I still have nightmares of the day your mother left us. That mundane Sunday morning which suddenly turned our lives upside down. At that street corner when her car was hit by truck, I heard she died instantly. I was not there with her. Your mother and I—we used to talk of how if we had to leave this world, then we would leave it together.
At that time, I could not have survived if you were not there standing beside me. I know you cried all night. I could hear you scream your mother’s name, but next morning you held a brave face. When I could not even handle myself, you had faith in me. Every single day you told me that I had to move on. I had to show courage. You told me that your mother would not be happy if she saw me broken—telling me that everything will be fine. At least we had each other. I would have forgotten how to live if it were not you holding my hands. My daughter, you were brave. You took care of me like you were my mother. At that time, I realised that my daughter is no ordinary person. She is a brave lioness just like her mother. I knew my daughter could face anything.
Look here, this is a photograph of your fifth birthday when your mother and I had decided to gift you a white coat. You wanted to become a doctor back then. After that, at the age of seven, you wanted to become a pilot. You used to be so happy looking at airplanes flying by. You were so determined to fly that huge object in sky. At the age of thirteen, you wanted to become an engineer. Sometimes I wonder what would you have chosen to be if November 27, 2012 had not happened.
I am so sorry Maanu, I could not be a responsible father. November 27, 2012: That evening, when we were supposed to be cutting your birthday cake, I was called to identify your body. I remember shock. My heart felt like it was exploding with pain. My head was burning up and my body felt like it was trapped in a cage. I let out a loud cry and after that there was only darkness.
You had told me earlier that there were guys who were making you feel uncomfortable at your college. Later, you told me that you could handle the problem on your own. I wish I had not decided to wait. If only I had came to your college that very day, I would still have my daughter with me. Everything would be different. I was so stupid. I am extremely sorry Maanu. Your father was not there for you when you needed him the most. I was not able to keep my promise.
After that day I don’t remember living—all I do is breath. Now all those animals who tortured my flower are behind bars. I made sure that every person who made you suffer, suffered as well.
But there is no solace in retribution. Three years have not eased my pain.
But this morning I see that I can be happy again. After three years of living like a nobody, I have decide not to live anymore.
I had thought you and your mother, Rekha, were important parts of my life, but now I know that you both were my life. I wonder why my loves were taken away from me so early. Why both of you had to die that way? Why are people so bad? Don’t they realise that their acts can actually harm other people? Why don’t people treasure the lives of other people?
I don’t want to stay here anymore. I choose to be with my family. I have already fought my battle. Ironically, as I stand at the very edge, I have the lines from your favourite song stuck my head.
There is a better place from this. Emptiness.
Lots of love
Headlines: 13 January, 2016; A man identified as Vikash Malla was found dead in his house in Kathmandu. Police found a bottle of poison, a letter and many of his old photographs near his deceased body.
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