Four Missed Calls, Two Text Messages
The phone buzzed but he was too sincere with work. This was the Korean project after all and there was a high possibility that he would become the head.
After the presentation, he stepped outside the conference room, dialled the same number and without waiting another second, he shouted, “Don’t you know I’m working at this hour? I have to work, unlike you. I am not retired like you and I don’t want to get fired. Talk to you later Dad.”
Another busy day packed with lunch meetings, presentations, and client visits, made him forget that it was 8.30 already and that he had to drive home. The driver was on leave. Just as he was about to steer his car, his phone buzzed again.
“Yes Babe, on my way back home. Sorry I got late today. This new project is killing me. But let’s go out for dinner tonight, okay? My birthday treat.”
“Please come to SVP hospital as soon as you can. Dad has had a heart attack. Hurry up!”
In a single second, his professional calmness hit the ground and he freaked out. He felt ridiculously guilty. He hadn’t realised until this very moment how ignorant he had been. How spending five extra minutes with his Father to teach him how to use the new touch phone had irritated him so much, and how just four ‘concerned ‘ calls from him had made him lose his patience.
“Err… Mr. Mukherjee?” He asked.
“Room 409,” the assistant replied.
As he waited for the elevator, he recalled how Papa would climb all the way up to the third floor by the staircase, just to let him win at reaching the third floor first, by the elevator.
“Dad?” His face was all sweaty and eyes blood shot, as he opened the door.
“Sshh. He’s not conscious. He needs rest.”
He gazed at the old, wrinkled face resting on the pillow. He clenched his hand and smiled, remembering how in his verandah, his dad fanned him using one of those hand fans, because there had been no electricity that night.
Dad opened his eyes slowly.
He smiled a little and tried to say something. The lump in his throat made it difficult for words to escape his mouth. He just leaned forward to listen to him instead.
“Chocolate truffle, right?”
Those were the last words he uttered as if he had kept himself alive and survived all that just to mumble those words to his son.
Before he could comprehend what those words meant, his heart sinked. The hand in his fist fell cold and his father, as if satisfied with what he had last said, took his last breath.
As devastating as it could be, his world came crashing down and every breath he now took was draining the life out of him.
Phone calls, hospital formalities, heavy mourning, chaos and those words,
“Chocolate truffle, right?”
Finishing the necessary rituals, they drove back home, he with a heart so heavy, almost got hit by another car.
As they entered, he sat around the table, still unable to believe what had just happened in one night.
He walked to the fridge to get water. He saw a sticker note on door. It read “Surprise! I remember your favourite son!”
He opened the fridge and saw a chocolate truffle cake that had “Happy birthday love! -Dad.”
And he stood there in that room with no lights on except the one from the refrigerator. “Chocolate truffle right?” The words ringed in his ears, as tears fell from his eyes.
~ Vidushi Chhabra | Edited by Aditi Dhasmana