“Mumma where are we going, what will we see there?” asked an excited Ayan. Going out with his Mother was a fun and special time for him. She always took him to interesting places. Museums, factories, galleries, gardens, and planetariums, in the city and during vacation times outside. He was getting really excited, but he did not know where he was going and that is why he kept pestering her with the question.
Mansi sighed; she had no answer to his question. In fact even she did not know what she was doing and why. When she got the news, she struggled with the decision. She could not go alone and taking Ayan would warrant an explanation that she did not know how to give. No, she did not care about explaining to the people. She was worried about Ayan, would he accept the fact or even understand the situation. He was ten, but she was not sure whether he was mature enough for his age.
“Ayan today we are going to meet somebody, and you need to behave properly, don’t run around too much and listen to what I say, greet everyone and be good, alright. Capiche” “Ya ya capiche ma” He replied. Mansi smiled, she had a great kid and she knew she had done her best with him. Whatever judgements were laid on her today well she was ready for it. They got into the car and off they set out on the journey. Ayan was never a quiet traveller and the destination was two hours away. His curiosity kept rising and he kept on asking questions, about where they were going and whom they were meeting.
Finally, Mansi saw no way out and had to give in. “Ayan, we are going to meet your father, he wants to see you for the last time.” Ayan was intrigued and confused, he had not seen his father even once then what did she mean by for the last time. “Mumma I am confused.” Mansi smiled and went on, “You see when he wanted to change his life he left us and moved on. He said he did not want anything to do with us because we won’t let him change. And I did not stop him, because there was no sense in trying to force someone to stay with you when he clearly did not want to. We never saw him and we were very happy. And I always assumed that he was happy too”
Mansi sighed she did not know how much of this was Ayan understanding. “I met him a few days back, and he was not happy with his life. He said he had made a mistake and had lost everything. I wanted to help him and let him come back, but our lives are not a game.” To Mansi it was more like explaining it to herself, that is when Ayan suddenly said, “So mumma you mean he was like Sagar, who always tries to pick the strongest players on his team. But, yesterday our team defeated him. He was very upset. Just like my father played a game and lost” That is when she realised that her son understood more than what she gave him credit for.
They reached the destination. Ayan expected to be walking into a house, but shock started registering when he realised that they were entering a house in mourning. People dressed in white, surrounding a body. Mansi asked Ayan to go ahead and pay respects to his father for the last time. Once they had met everyone, and were back in the car Ayan was quiet on the way back home. Mansi knew what was troubling him. “Ayan,” she said, “The thing about your father was that he hated to lose. He could not tolerate losing, and life gave him his biggest defeat.”
A version of this article first appeared in the weekly YSeeker e-magazine in 2014.