Meet the Parent

11 May

So the other day, the father of my friends’ friend Sheetal (who was greviously injured in the accident that they were all in) wanted to meet me. I almost sank into the ground when Sheetal’s boyfriend rang me up and said that her dad wanted to have “a friendly chat”. This is because, as his daughter was so badly affected, he’s basically been going left, right and centre, questioning people, screaming at anyone and everyone. And I had gotten to know that he was quite aware it was my party she’d come for, though uninvited.

As soon as I got the phonecalls, I started ringing up the 3 other friends, getting the versions of the stories they had given him, so that I could attempt to maintain some consistency with theirs. After tremendous nervousness, I set out to meet him, with another friend at my side who is also part of the circle, but was out of town that evening.

We were heading towards Sheeta’s room, when we saw her father approaching from the other side. I almost started shaking in the legs. The friend stopped him and introduced me to him.

He turned, registered what she had told him, smiled and said “Hello, hello!” I was shocked at his tone.
“I was just heading out to lunch. Have you had lunch?”

“Errr… yes, I have,” I lied utterly confused, “but I can meet you later, if that would be more comfortable for you.”

“Oh no no no, please join me. Maybe you can have something else… A juice? Or dessert?”
Naturally, I had no inclination of telling him about the crash diet I was on, and I was quite sure I wasn’t escaping from this situation, so I had to assent.

My friend left our side, giving me a look of “All the best” and headed off. I started walking with him, extremely nervous.
His first asked me what I studied. Upon my response, he said “You do look like the sort of person who’s into computers”.
Brilliant! He had called me a geek! A 50 year old man, had just called me a geek in the first 10 seconds of our acquaintence. I would’ve been slightly offended, but I took it as a positive at that moment.

He made trivial conversation, if any at all, asking me about my parents, where they work, where I was from and so on, till we reached the restaurant. We were joined by Sheetal’s room-mate once there, who corroborated that one just had to eat when one was in his company. And there I saw myself being forced to have dessert! Tons and tons of calories being forced onto my place! Ice-cream, brownie, cake… Argh!
And I felt a little cheated having passed on the lovely buffet lunch the other 2 were having, but I doubt the smallest fragment of food would have managed its way down my food pipe at that moment.

It would be difficult to detail the 2 hour lunch (and even harder to read it) but in short, we spoke little about the actual accident (he took a very brief and casual account), he was overjoyed to learn that I like to read, told me that Sheetal was also an avid reader, suggested a million books that I should flip through, spoke about pets and what a pleasure they were, asked me my favourite cuisine and told me about his, told me more about his daughter and her personality, her loyalty to her friends no matter how they treated her and how he wished Sheetal had “more friends like you and <her boyfriend> rather than those boys she was with that night.” (Blush Blush!)

He revealed that he had been thoroughly researching on what happened that night but did not share the details because he didn’t want to disturb me just before the exams, and would rather I cleared them and went home peacefully, an opportunity that his daughter had just lost.
I also picked up some wrong impressions that he had of the other night, which I would inform my friends about so that they could correct him at a later stage.

When we were heading back to the hospital, he asked me if I had met Sheetal. I told him I hadn’t and he invited me in to see her. This came as a total surprise. The man has literally refused LOTS of people entry into her room, and I truly felt I was being let into a sacred space.

Once in the room, I could see why he had been so paranoid. The girl was a complete personification of trauma. Her fractured arm (“broken into 3 pieces”) and leg were bandaged heavily, she was moving about on her bed restlessly, and in tremendous pain. She was psychologically broken. It truly felt like she was in a complete trance, something one sees only in films.
Her memory came back to her about 3 days back, but is still shaky. The father asked her if she recongnised me, and she did, with my full name. He then asked her why she said there were no good books in our town, because I had a lovely collection of my own. She responded “But he won’t give them to me” which made everyone (but me!) laugh. Then he asked her if she had ever requested me for any, and she only responded that I wouldn’t give her any. Her father told her to ask me for some, and she replied “In front of you, he’ll say that he’ll give them to me, but he won’t.”
I’d been embarassed enough before everyone present, so I (pretend) laughed and said “I’ll give them to you right now!!” 

After a while, she turned to me said, “Okay, now you go” almost sensing my mild discomfort. “I don’t want to go” I defended. “No, you go to your girlfriend”
“I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“No, you go to your girlfriend.”
“Who’s my girlfriend?”
“I don’t remember her name. It’s long… and Indian….Nawaz…” (Which was thankfully nothing close to Hagatha’s name, who she was referring to.)

Much of what she said made sense, a lot of it didn’t. As the doctors had said earlier, she has to be treated like a small child for some months, before she returns to normal. Pampered and taught the smallest of things.

It was heart-wrenching to see her in that condition. Yet, it was heart-warming to see how lovingly her parents were speaking to her. Her parents, who would’ve preferred being able to scream at her for driving around irresponsibly with people in the wee hours of the morning, treating her like a small child who needs pampering.

I left the room with the promise of visiting her at her home later this month. Feeling quite proud for all the generosity that had come my way from a man so enraged otherwise, and having been invited into his home.

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5 Responses to “Meet the Parent”

  1. DewdropDream May 11, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    Sheetal’s father is something! I’d love to know someone like him. Hope Sheetal recovers soon! And you do well in your exams!

  2. Rambunctious WhipperSnapper May 13, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    This post was nothing like the movie!

  3. Pesto Sauce May 17, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

    Parents can be interesting….

  4. Nikita June 21, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    I don’t get it… can someone get into that state after fractures in arm and leg? I mean, won’t temporary loss of memory and the kind of trauma she is in involve more serious injuries?
    I hope she gets better soon. From what you have written, it seems she will take months to fully recover 😦
    How is she now?

  5. unsungpsalm June 21, 2009 at 7:17 pm #

    Much better. Apparently, she’s recovered, mentally… I’ll be meeting her in a month, crossing all my fingers!

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