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Today is the fourth anniversary of my first Court order that permitted me to be with my little boy. I got to see him for a couple of hours in Court. That day was also the beginning of a journey with many memorable anecdotes along the way. The story of CCTV Uncle is one such.
My boy tells me that I am called 'CCTV Uncle' by his cousin who stays with him, who seems to be a sweet little girl he likes.
CCTV Uncle was apparently the butt of many jokes at their home.The premise of this ridicule was that I always showed up to pick my boy up regardless of what they did. Despite Court orders, I would not be allowed to be with my boy. Sometimes, I would be threatened by hired security guards; sometimes, I would be ridiculed and yelled at by her family. Sometimes, I would be beaten up; the assaults getting progressively worse. Sometimes, they would lie that my boy was sick. Sometimes, they would travel without letting me know. Sometimes, they would tell my boy to peep outside from the door and close it and run back inside. Frivolous police complaints would be filed against me in several police stations, and even my parents would be harassed.
So, every Saturday I went to pick my boy up, the little girl and her family would watch me together on the CCTV monitors. She appears to have exclaimed 'CCTV Uncle came!' one day and that is how my name stuck. They played a game -- The CCTV Game -- trying to guess what I would do next and had a good laugh whenever they were right.
I wager that this game must have been awfully boring, because my reactions were entirely predictable and their guesses would usually have been right.
I would patiently wait for hours. I would call my lawyers for help. I would try to reason if threatened. I would leave if assaulted. I would never retaliate. I would be worried and message in vain for hospital details if lied to that he was sick. I would visit all the nearby hospitals just to convince myself of the certainty of the lie and that he was alright. Some days later, I would file a contempt complaint, and the High Court would usually do nothing. The strictest of judges would let the mother get away with an apology and a promise that she wouldn't do this again. When my boy did come out of the door, I would carry him and leave with a big grin on my face, half from relief, the other half, joy. This would continue and I would get to see my boy until the judges changed.
In many ways, it was I who was really playing The CCTV Game, because I never knew which of the above possibilities was going to unfold on any given day.
It may seem that my persistent and futile actions were a path to insanity. Indeed, if you asked the little girl, she would probably exclaim 'CCTV Uncle is mad!'. There was certainly nothing remarkable or interesting about CCTV Uncle. All he did was show up and wait, day after day.
But, one day, something remarkable did happen. While my boy never referred to CCTV Uncle as Papa, he had always been watching me either on the CCTV monitors, or from behind the door. Whatever happened, he saw that I always came back, and that I always waited for him to come to me.
At some point, my boy seems to have realized, with all the authoritative morality of a responsible pre-schooler, that what was happening to CCTV Uncle was unfair. He decided to educate me on the folly of my ways, and asked me 'Why you keep coming? Everyone says you are shameless!'.
I only smiled back and did not answer. Like any other child of his age, my boy found this unresolved ending quite unsatisfactory. He paused for a minute and decided to reason this out himself. He finally answered his question with another question of his own.
'Why you love me so much, Papa?'
That love was the answer was something he concluded entirely on his own; I did not even need to speak a word. As any B-grade crime movie detective would proclaim, 'The CCTV footage speaks for itself, Sir!'.
The 'Why you love me so much?' question would crop up again many times in our future conversations, but never once with the expectation of an answer. My boy knew that the answer lie in the question itself: that I loved him very much. This rekindled his love and trust in me as well.
Milton once famously wrote 'They also serve, who only stand and wait'.
He forgot to mention they also love truly, madly and deeply.
If they only wait long enough, they are often rewarded in kind too.