“Sarah weds Paul”
It was written on a heart-shaped spectacular display placed just in front of the main entrance. I looked around readjusting the flower bouquet I bought for Sarah caressing her favourite white lilies which I placed myself in between the bunch of lavender roses. I am not so used to these kind of parties and right now I feel like I don’t belong here, but the fact is I could’ve been anywhere in this world but I am here. I see happy faces wandering around food stalls and tasting everything they could, filling the stomach which they wisely covered under their well sophisticated suits. I see blabbering mouth talking everything nonsense from how they decided to pick this particular dress to wear for this occasion to how they are going to spend their summers this year.
Every time I breathe my mind says ‘man, collect you shit and get out of this place as soon as possible because if anyone recognize you here, you will never be able to walk on your legs again’ but my heart keeps on repeating same line again and again anything for Sarah.
Socializing isn’t one of the skills I am good at, so I picked one of safest spot away from bar, not far away from the entrance, which is also the way out. I tried to keep myself busy in browsing internet. I am trying to read those black letters on my phone but all I hear is Nandini screaming at me in her shrieking voice with tears in her eyes “She is happy without you, don’t ever try to come back in her life, she doesn’t need you. No one here needs you. Stay away”.
I could do nothing at that time; I saw her taking my Sarah away from me. I could see her beautiful innocent eyes, which knows nothing about what is going on, crying. That was the last time I saw here. Each time I try to find her in my memories I see her crying. It is terrible, this feeling is terrible. Since then I’ve spent every day of my life killing every cell in my body which desires to be anywhere near her, I can’t hurt her again. I can’t be the reason for her tears again.
“Sir, are you okay?”
I looked above. A waiter was standing right in front of me. I am fine, I said to him.
“I saw you crying so I came here, do you need anything sir? Bourbon, vodka maybe bears?”
No just plain water if you have. In few seconds I was having glass of sparkling water in my hand, I said thank you to him and I gave him a tip.
Everything in this party is either in white or in lavender, obviously these were Sarah’s favourite colours. She was very fond of white lilies, I remember once she wrote Sarah on a petal of it and gave me saying that the day you will lose it I will know that you love me no more. Today colour of that lily has turned to brown but I still keep it laminated in a plastic cover, I love her and I will always love her. Believe me or not, I knew her before I really knew her. I was in love with her before I even saw her.
Everything was perfect before that night. I had all I needed, a small house on the beach, a small perfect family, me and my wife Nandini, and my sweetheart my beautiful daughter Sarah. . I worked as a football coach in the same school where I met Nandini, when I was the captain of the school football team. We loved each other and against our families we eloped and married. It was not that well paid job for it was enough for three of us. I had all but then I started drinking.
People like me are not known to adjust well in happiness, when things are fine we screw them. It is almost sixteen years to that incident and I can still remember that night frame by frame. I still remember her sad blue eyes. Sarah my twelve-year-old darling couldn’t withstand the sight of me being thrashed by the cops. She watched all this while Nandini begged officers to stop. I was sentenced ten years of imprisonment. I ruined both of their lives. I ruined my perfect world.
When I returned, Nandini had already married someone else and my Sarah was now a college going girl. Nandini hate me and she is right in doing so, but keeping Sarah away from me, this was not right. I begged her, I tried to convince her that now I am changed but for her a person like me can never change. She wanted to keep our daughter safe and happy and away from my shadows. She even threatened me by the legal papers. I understand her, but she is mine too. Is this that hard to understand that I love my daughter and I can do anything for her. Not a single drop of alcohol has passed through my neck since that night, is this not enough to prove that I have changed?
I have changed but no one can stop me from attending my daughter’s wedding. I haven’t seen her in past sixteen years and today no one can stop me, I will go directly to her and give her these white lilies and tell her that darling I am your father, hug her tightly and she will hug me back. I remember how every night she used to fall asleep in my arms while I sing lullabies for her. She used to keep her ears on my chest and hear my heartbeats and sing along with it. Every morning when I return from my practise, she runs towards me in her cute little doremon shoes with her long black hairs swimming in the air and I pick her from the ground, she giggle and she laugh. Seeing her happy made my days. I remember how her little hands played with my nose and ears and how she rides on my back as if I was a horse. I was happy and my life was beautiful when I was around her. Then happiness turned away from me and so did the life.
Rush was increasing near the entrance. I overheard people saying that the bride is coming. I gulped the water I was holding and stood up and there she was. She is transformed into complete beauty like her mother, dressed in traditional white gown she walked on the flowers. She is no more my carefree little Sarah, she seems bold, strong and her blue eyes radiate her confidence. She no more requires a dad who is only good enough to teach her hoe to drive a bicycle. She no more requires a dad who can only clean her shoes and comb her hairs. She no more requires a dad who sits all day by her side and paints all those stupid paintings of apple and roses hanging from the clouds. Maybe she needs a dad but I can never be the dad she need.
I shouldn’t have come here. What if seeing me again brings back all those terrifying memories. What if she didn’t recognise me, after all I have never worn suit and tie in front of her. What if she recognises me and gives me that I-hate-you-for-what-you-did-to-me look like her mother. What if Nandini identifies me standing in the crowd and throws me out of here, obviously she will make sure I never come near Sarah. What if Sarah also hates me? I can’t see hate for me in her eyes. I can’t see tears in those eyes again. I can’t hurt her again.
What should I do now? Its better I return to my old shitty life and disgust myself with my job as a security guard, I don’t belong here. What of these white lilies, should I give it to her or just take them back. I looked around everyone was busy; I can easily walk out of the crowd without being identified.
“Sir is you leaving?”
He was the same waiter who told me that I was crying. I told him that I have some important work to finish. I need to leave.
“Wedding is not yet started and you are leaving?”
He was being very sweet and was sounding very concerned but again it was none of his business, yet told him politely yes I am leaving.
“Sir, if you want me to deliver this bouquet to anyone, I can.”
I didn’t show much excitement but internally my heart was jumping like a ten-year old kid. I want my daughter to hold this but how can I give it to her? I can’t go near to her. He came to me like an angel to fulfil my only wish without me even asking. I gave him the bouquet said to deliver it only to the bride.
“Any note you want to keep?”
I said no.
“Are you sure, tell me your name at least I will inform to her that you were here.”
I was not in mood of arousing any suspicion about my identity so I just took out that laminated white lily petal with Sarah written on it and kept it among the flowers. I know it’s my time to walk out; I don’t want to create a scene in my daughter’s wedding. I walked the same way I came in and started to search for my bicycle in the sea of bikes and cars.
I was crying.
I was crying but I was happy. I saw her today, I wish I could have told her how much I missed her, how much I wanted to be on her side while she was growing up and tell her how much her father will love her even if she decides to hate him. But I think I got more than I deserved after all people like me can’t handle happiness.
I heard someone calling dad.
I turned around; she was standing there and beside her Nandini was also standing. Sarah was holding that laminated petal of white lily in her hand and tears were flowing from her eyes. Sarah don’t cry child, please stop crying. I begged.
I tried to move but I couldn’t as if something was holding me.
“Dad don’t you love me anymore?”
I do my love, I do. I said.
She ran towards me in her beautiful white shoe of some brand I can’t even spell the name of, with her long beautiful hairs swimming in the wind. I tried to pick her in my arms like I used to when she was a child but I failed. I tried again and failed. She burst into laughter.
“Accept it dad, you are an old man now.”
She took my by the arms and lift me up and I told to her that she has grown young and heavy and that’s not my fault.
“What are you doing here, come inside”
I looked at Nandini, she wanted me gone. I told Sarah that today is her day and she should enjoyed it irrespective of what her old man is doing, I said her that it was the time of my night shift and I was on my way to my work and I am just searching for my bicycle.
“You brought a bicycle with you?”
“Wow dad, I always wanted to enter my marriage on a bicycle. Come on, take me inside in bicycle. Won’t you do this for me? For my happiness.”
I nodded in affirmation. I’ve no words to speak. Maybe I am the luckiest father in this world. I have never even imagined anything of this sort to happen. This is all real, this is all happening. I am again with my daughter and she is not angry with me, in fact she called me dad.
We hopped on the bicycle, me on the driver’s seat and she on the frame between hands and the seat. She was laughing. She was happy. I am happy. Maybe if I complete this ride without failing and falling and do not screw my daughter’s dream of perfect wedding there might be hope for me and a happy life.