They had already drunk two cups of tea each and finished a trayful of snacks. The conversation had thinned, and there were several silences punctuated by comments on “how polluted Delhi was getting”. But no one made an attempt to get up, grab their bags, and leave. It was 8.30 p.m., and since that was past both my dinner time and reading time, I was getting more fidgety by the minute.
Someone else in the living room fidgeted almost as much as I did. But the limitations of adulthood stopped him from doing anything about it. It was my Dad.
“I don’t like it when people overstay their welcome. Can’t they get a hint when it’s right in their face?” he complained later at our dinner table.
“I know! And they were just idling about. Not like they had interesting conversation to make!” I agreed.
The rest of my family members rolled their eyes. “You two are exactly alike,” Mom said, shaking her head. “Xerox copies.”
Mom loved calling us that: xerox copies of each other. We were not given to conversations about the weather and the state of the roads. We loved adhering to our carefully built schedules. We enjoyed nothing more than a delicious plate of chicken and rice for our Sunday meal. If I clung to my tattered orange tee, discreetly retrieving it from to-donate heaps, Dad held on to his faded shorts from decades ago.
“They are xerox copies,” Mom would tell all her friends. “They make a great team even when it is to bulldoze me into doing something.” She would smile indulgently and admit, “But I am glad they are so alike. She has everything that I have grown to love so in my husband.”
As the years go by, I realise Dad and I are even more alike than I had previously assumed. We talk to each other about this and that, going out of the way to hear out each other’s problems. But we hide our pains successfully; it comes forth only in a voice that’s a tad shakier, a hand that’s less steady. We are united in our longing for reliving the past, but we assure each other with immense enthusiasm that fabulous things await us in the future.
We are xerox copies indeed, and whenever I see my father’s commitment to his promises, his good heart, and his utter straightness in dealing with life, I feel thrilled that it is so.
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I am taking up the April #AtoZChallenge 2019 and will post every day of the month, except Sundays. I look forward to your company!
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