Sunday was always special for the twins. It meant a day with their favorite person in the world; as they would often say! However their favorite person in the world oscillated between Papa and Mama. But on Sundays it was Papa hands down.
It was a Sunday ritual. It was the day the twin sisters were woken up from their bed by Papa. As Papa would mention it time and again ‘Sunday is for my sweet darlings!’. Quickly brushing their teeth, they would have their breakfast table filled with goodies Papa had prepared himself. Breakfast was followed by their time at the park. There was no rushing back and they could play to their hearts content. They would then settle down with Papa on one of the shady park benches and he would fill them up with a story.
Maanasi and Maanavi loved his stories. Maanav was very choosy about the story he would tell them. It would have to be a meaningful one and one they wouldn’t have heard before. He would often surf the net or painstakingly revisit his personal library and pick a story. Being an avid and a voracious reader, he had a big enough collection of books to help him. A few days day before he had to tell them the story, Maanav would have it running in his mind; almost memorizing the story; start to finish. He would spice it up with enough unique expressions and sound effects to make it as interesting as possible. Maanav believed in being well prepared and giving his best at everything he did.
Sunday was also the day Maanav’s father stayed longer in the park; so he wasn’t at home to be in the way. Dadu as his girls called him was already in the park as it was his custom every morning. On Sundays Dadu stayed longer in the park; though everyone believed it was because he exercised a little more on Sundays, Dadu had his own special reason. He looked forward to the day as it gave him his greatest happiness.
To Dadu, watching the two generations of his family in the park filled him with the greatest elation. Watching his granddaughters play, unfailingly brought a smile to wrinkled face. Maanasi and Maanavi were already at the elevator door, waiting. Maanav joined them soon enough. Just as the elevator door was about to open, welcoming his family into its cabin; Maanav remembered he had forgotten something. With a smile and almost apologetically, he asked his darlings to wait for him, ‘I’ll be back in less than a jiffy!’ he said. His darlings knew why papa must have gone back. Maanavi hushed to her lookalike,” Papa must have forgotten to pray as he always does, before leaving home!” Maanasi agreed nodding her head, making her curly locks shake. Hurriedly, Maanav opened the main door and rushed to the kitchen. ‘How could I forget?’ he thought to himself. It was a habit with him as far back as he could remember, he would pray each time he was leaving home.
A white mandir adorned the kitchen wall in this swanky suburban apartment. Standing out in beautiful contrast to the background of the graceful white marble, was a single blue deity. A deity that Maanav had complete faith in. Folding his hand and bowing before the smiling figurine, his lips went into a murmur, seeking blessings. Maanav believed he was devout, not only in his ritual of praying, but in living his life the way scriptures and the Divine doctrined. No sooner had the elevator touched the ground floor, his girls had sped away to the park.
Maanav settled down on the rustic wooden bench near to the children’s play area. Not only would he able to keep an eye on them, but also regale himself watching their antics. “Do you want me to stay here and keep a watch on them?” Papa asked. “I can stay here and keep a watch on them, in case you want to take a walk around”, he continued. The smile on Maanav’s face appeared to be disintegrating.” Papa don’t you think I can do that?” Maanav replied back with irritation getting stronger with every word that flew out of his mouth. Sensing his son’s irritation, Papa thought it best to walk away. However, he could not hold himself. Beginning to retrace his steps to the curling walking trail, he stopped to turn around and address Maanav, “Please be sure you keep an eye on them. Don’t let them stray away from your sight.” Maanav’s mind went into a hyperdrive. ‘He repeats this every time we are at the park!’ ‘He doesn’t trust me with my own children!’ ‘Am I still a kid?’ ‘Don’t I know what’s good for my own children?’ ‘Does he think he knows better?’ The aggression raged up in Maanav as these thoughts built up and then they occupied his subconscious and conscious completely. The aggression of his thoughts translated itself into words. Maanav spat out venom. “Will you please continue on your walk? Leave us alone PLEASE!” The words hit Papa like an avalanche that strikes a peaceful mountain slope. His heart sank and head shook from side to side. His legs became shaky and he was embarrassed by the turning heads of the passersby. He broke into a profuse sweat. This was not the first time he had faced his son’s ire. He cursed himself for speaking instinctively to his son. Papa turned away and began to walk before Maanav or anyone else could see his moist eyes. Manav was embarrassed himself knowing that he had attracted the attention of others present in the park with his vented ire. He thought to himself, ’Now that he is away I can enjoy my leisure time with Maanasi and Maanavi.’ Time flew by. The sun almost taking its overhead noon position. The girls were visibly tired. Sipping water from their pink water bottles even as they continued to pant.”Ok Papa, now its story time. Hope it will be as interesting as every time?” Maanavi was unable to hold herself. The girls had made themselves comfortable beside Papa.
Maanav was ready and eager.”Just a few days back we celebrated the occasion of Janmashtami. Today i am going to tell you about Lord Krishna.” Maanav continued, his story telling skills and practice, holding the girls in rapt attention. Often he could feel the expressions and the breathing of his girls change making it evident to him that he was doing a good job. There was a complete silence when he completed his story. The girls were spell bound and speechless. Maanavi was the first to break the silence. ” In the entire story you told us of God Krishna, there were so many occasions where no matter how much everyone shouted at him, or blamed him, or even thought he was not fair and even when they accused him, Krishna forgave them so easily. Is that why He is God? Do God’s have such a big heart that they can forgive?”
Maanav realised, he had selected the right story to relate to them. With a smile of self appreciation mixed with the smile of a parent who feels proud of his children’s grasp, running his hand in the curly locks of his daughters he said, “Yes!That’s why Krishna was so special. And yes that is why he is God.” “Papa, wait a minute. We will be back.” Maanavi had jumped off from the bench, run over to Maanasi and whispered something that was indelible to Maanav. Maanasi jumped off the bench too. Holding hands, the girls sped away before Maanav could ask them “Where are you both off to?” Not waiting to answer him, Maanasi and Maanavi were on their way towards Dadu. Turning to keep an eye on them, Maanav saw that they already reached Dadu. What unfolded before him was beyond his comprehension. Maanasi and Maanavi stood in front of their Dadu, stopping him in his tracks. They both folded their hands and bowed down to him, just as they had seen their Papa do so in front of the idol in the temple. Dadu was taken aback. Lovingly they walked beside him, their cheerful faces beaming like never before. They then returned to Papa. As soon as they were with Maanav, he could not hold himself back as he hurriedly asked,” What was that about?” Maanavi replied, “Papa you just told us the story, and in that the God kept forgiving. So, our Dadu is also a God!” She continued, “All times when you get angry with him, he always forgives you. He walks away to his room and sits on his arm chair, away from everybody so that nobody can see his sad face. Sometimes, he picks up the newspaper and pretends to read it; actually he just wipes away his tears. Many times when you do not answer him nicely, he pretends as if he has not heard you at all and gets busy with something, as if, if he did not find something to keep himself busy with, he would cry.” Maanav was shaken and felt the burden of an unpleasant realization. Maanasi joined in too, “Papa, if Dadu keeps forgiving you, he is also a God. So went to pray to him.”
Maanav had to take his eyes away from his daughters. Dadu, who was now nearby and could not help but overhear his sweet granddaughters, interrupted before they could say anything more.”No, my sweet girls that is not true at all.” His eyes heavy with wetness, belied him. Maanav, slumped on the bench as he felt drained and shaken. Sudden thoughts and voices crowded his mind in a flash……. He could suddenly recognize all that he had sometimes told his father. ‘There is nothing you have done for me!’ ‘Other parents give so much to their children!’ ‘Why can’t you provide me with what other’s have?’ ‘Can’t you even do this much for me?’ ‘I wish I was born to someone else!’ ‘What you are saying is crap!’ ‘All your ideas are outdated!’ ‘You never kept up with the times!’ His voice continued to haunt him and now seemed to resonate even louder. ‘You are not as good as my friend’s parents.’ ‘Why couldn’t you give me a better childhood.’ ‘Sometimes I am ashamed to call you my father.’ ‘You never did anything for me.’ ‘Leave us alone PLEASE!’ “These are the words I have spoken to Papa!” said Maanav to himself, and with every spoken word he could imagine his father bearing the brunt of his anger and insults.
Silently. Maanav felt restless at the churning within. “Each insult that I hurled at him, he was breaking. Each insult was a blow to his confidence. Every harsh word uttered by me made him feel worthless as a human being and as a parent. He took insult upon insult from me. And even after every insult that i inflicted on him, he continued loving me, forgiving me and loving me over and over again. I have been oblivious of divinity.” Maanav’s arms went around his daughters. The girls could see that Papa and Dadu, both had wet eyes. Hugging his little girls, and looking at his father, all he could gather himself to say was,”Yes my dear girls you are right.”
It took him immense courage to stand beside his father and tell him, “For the last time ever, please forgive me today, as you always have.” Dadu’s smiled told him, he already had. The Sunday sojourn at the park concluded as they walked back to take the elevator. Lunch was enjoyed in a calm silence. Like every Sunday, the girls slept in their parents room. As they struggled to open their eyes after a refreshing nap, they were both pleasantly surprised to see a new picture frame on Papa’s bed side table. Maanavi and Maanasi both grabbing at it and ran to Dadu’s room….. “Look Dadu! you are looking so nice in this picture!”.