Auckland Airport – circa 2016
I was delighted to see my daughter waiting for me at the exit of Auckland International Airport.
“You have grown so tall – and – you look so pretty…” I said to her.
My daughter smiled – she gave me a warm hug – and – she said to me:
“It’s been 3 years – I am so happy to see you, Daddy – I was eagerly waiting to see you – but – you took so much time – your flight landed more than an hour ago…”
“Immigration didn’t take much time – my bag arrived quickly too – but – there was delay at biosecurity – an old lady ahead of me in the queue had brought home-made pickles, sweets and mangoes from India – and – she was arguing and was refusing to pay the fine…” I said.
“How stupid – don’t they read the biosecurity rules before coming to New Zealand…?” my daughter said.
“Forget all that…” I said, “where have you booked me – in the same hotel where you work…?”
“No hotel - you are going to stay at home – our home…” my daughter said, firmly.
“But – your mother…?” I said to her, with a bit of apprehension.
(When talking to my daughter – I had always addressed my wife as “your mother” – even when we were married…)
“Mother…? You don’t worry about her…” my daughter said to me, “it is your house – and – I want you to stay with us at home…”
“Okay – shall we go by “Airport Shuttle Bus”…? We can get down at Mount Eden Village Bus Stop – and – walk down to our house in Epsom…” I said to my daughter.
“We are driving down in our car…” she said, with a confident smile.
“Car…? Has your mother come…?” I ask, feeling uneasy.
“No – I am driving…” my daughter said.
“You…? But you are just 17…” I said to her.
“Have you forgotten the rules…? I got my driving license last year. Of course – it is a restricted one – so – I can drive only during the daytime – from 5 AM to 10 PM – next year – I will get my full-fledged driving license…” my daughter said.
And – we – my daughter and I – we walked towards the parking area.
As we drove from Auckland Airport to my erstwhile home in Epsom – my daughter said: “I am angry with you…”
“Why…?” I asked her, “what have I done…?”
“You have come after 3 years…” my daughter said to me, “I thought you will come more often – at least once in six months…”
“I thought it would be best to stay away…” I said to her, “in fact – even now – I came because I had to come in person…”
“Why did you think it was best to stay away from us…?” my daughter asked me.
“Your mother divorced me…” I said to her.
“She has divorced you – I haven’t divorced you…” my daughter said to me.
I looked at my daughter and thought about what she had said.
She had just uttered a profound truth.
Can children ever divorce their parents…?
Also – a man can divorce his wife – but he can he divorce his children…?
Parents can divorce each other – but can they divorce their children…?
“I know you still love me Monika…” I said to my daughter, “Don’t worry – I haven’t divorced you – I may have divorced your mother – but I will never “divorce” you – I love you very much…”
We drove for some time in silence.
Then I asked my daughter: “Your mother – is she at home…?”
“No. She has gone out for some work…” my daughter said.
“On a Sunday…?” I asked, curious.
“She has become a member of some counselling and therapy group – all crazy feminist “psychos” …” my daughter said.
“Your mother – she is a qualified psychologist…” I said to my daughter.
“Big Deal…!!!” my daughter said sarcastically, “she herself got divorced – and now – she and all her feminist friends probably instigate others to divorce too – you should meet those weirdos in that group…”
On hearing this – my first impulse was to tell my daughter everything – my side of the story – but – I thought it was best to remain silent – so – I didn’t say anything.
“Don’t worry – she will come after lunch…” my daughter said, “I will cook some nice lunch for you…”
“You cook…?” I asked my daughter.
“Oh Yes – I cook quite well – I learnt at the hotel where I work – I make your favorite Biryani today…” she said.
“Oh – Indian Food…!!!” I said, “I thought you would give me a steak or something…”
“Do you want to eat steak…?” she asked me.
“No No…” I said, “I love Biryani…”
In a few minutes – we reached the “bungalow” in Epsom – my erstwhile home.
It was the same as I had left it 3 years ago – green lawns – lovely garden – the same beautiful home I had bought 10 years ago – when we relocated to Epsom from Sandringham.
Though it was expensive – and – a bit beyond my means – I had bought the classy villa because I wanted to please my wife Nisha – who always wanted to live in a posh “upmarket” neighborhood.
But – Nisha – my wife – now my ex-wife – she was never satisfied with whatever I did for her.
I entered the house – I looked around – everything was exactly as I had left it – 3 years ago.
“You have kept the house so well…” I said to my daughter.
“I love this beautiful spacious house…” my daughter said, “and it’s all thanks to you – if you hadn’t given us this house – we would be living in a tiny “shoe-box” apartment on rent…” my daughter said.
“It’s our family home – it will always be our home – whether I live here or not…” I said, filled with nostalgia.
To be continued in Part 3
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