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Few years back
“Mom, I have a new friend in school and you know what she is also my bus friend– and the best part is that she stays just a few blocks away from our house!”
“Wow! Super Mira — so is she your age, what’s her name?”
“Her name is Piu! Yes — she is also five! But in a different section though!I wish she was in my class only — it would be double triple the fun!”
I had just returned from work, and was seeing Mira, my five year old all beaming as she went all praises about her new friend! Seemed a new family had moved in to a nearby house and had a girl same her age and Mira was already beyond the customary hi hello with her.Her excitement and happiness was enough to make me look forward to meeting this new family.
The week was hectic and it took a while before I could meet Piu’s mother, Priya. Well, I still remember how I could connect so seamlessly with Priya, an instant connection! During my brief conversation, I got to know that her husband, Piu’s father was an army man who had been called for an emergency posting after their transfer to the city and would be back in a few months time.
Mira and Piu came closer and so did me and Priya. Seemed that we had more in common to share than our daughters — who anyway had found best friends in each other. From having meals together to play dates and even proposing for sleep overs — everything was happening!
Tempus fugit — Time flies.
Couple of months passed. One day, as I came back from work — Mira started giving me the day’s download about her teachers, subjects, friends at school and park. I kind of was there but was planning a new office proposal in my mind with an expression on my face that I was all there for my princess. Suddenly something caught my attention and actually brought me back from my proposal-
“Mom! Piu has a new member at home. She says that he is close to his mother and tries to get close to her also. But Piu doesn’t like him since he is hogging the entire attention of her mother! And you know mom — Piu calls him “chocolate uncle”.
I was inquisitive now and wanted to know more. I tried probing Mira but in vain! Next day it was me who so eagerly wanted to get the daily dose of “Mira download” at dinner time especially if Mira had visited Piu and about the visitor in their house!
“Mom! Today Piu behaved very badly with “chocolate uncle” because she got to know that he was not going anytime soon but would stay with them!You know mom — Piu isnt happy about it! And she told me that “chocolate uncle” also hugged her mom today!”
I was more curious than ever that day. Since Priya and I had also come closer in past few months — I somehow felt that she owed sharing this with me. I felt like picking my phone and calling her to probe about this. But waited till the next day!
Next day, I thought I would visit Priya and may be find out more about this visitor! Before I could see her in the evening, saw a whastapp from her — she had invited me to come over for a cup of coffee. I quickly typed yes! More than anything else — I wanted to know more and meet the visitor in their house!
As I visited Priya — I was so desperately looking around to see the visitor in the house — the much talked about “chocolate uncle”. Priya could sense what I had in my mind. Of course since our girls were so close now to share what was happening in each other’s life. Before I could ask anything — Priya opened up -
“Since Piu’s birth, her father had been on constant postings — emergency and otherwise and most of the times to places where we couldn’t take Piu. So me and Piu always stayed back. Since last two years or so when he visited us for short duration — Piu noticed how my time and attention also went towards him. She didn’t like that”.
“Slowly she started seeing him as a person who came for a few days — got close to her mom and then went away. Also she noticed how I cried and became sad everytime he left! Piu wasn’t able to take the fact that daddies could be so far away and only visit for a few days.”
“ Piu had always seen me around her — she never experienced that fatherly love because of his absence and when she started to know that family has one more person — dad- she wasn’t ready as she had started seeing him as someone competing with her for her mom’s time, attention and love!”
She smiled then — “ Many times earlier whenever Vikram returned back for his vacation — he always got chocolates with him as that was one proven thing he felt which all children loved — so the name “chocolate uncle”!
The smile changed to eyes filled with tears — “Vikram so desperately tries and wants to hear daddy from her. Pleads me to convince her. I keep telling Piu but none of that helps!”
I could feel the pain and just as I hugged Priya — there was someone else in the room — Piu’s visitor — her “chocolate uncle” ready with our coffee:)
Next few months we were determined to work together to bring Piu close to Vikram! I often invited the family to our house and we played games together –all of us — as if it was one big family! From circle time to role plays to hide and seek to dad and daughter teams vs mommies! All this started getting Piu closer to her chocolate uncle — the hate and jealousy towards someone whom she always saw a visitor started to transform into being her friend, her confidant. The indifference and hatred was getting transformed into liking and may be love had started to appear somewhere. From arranging her playdates to attending her PTM — Vikram was working very hard to just hear that “dad” from his angel! And this time he didn’t have to wait long!
It was Vikram’s birthday and as Priya was planning a surprise party for him by calling his old friends, Piu also had a surprise planned for him. Matchless! Revered! She made and wrote in his birthday card!
Happy birthday! Welcome to my world!
You, me and mumma are a family!
love you — your princess
And there hasn’t been any looking back since then. Piu is now seven! Vikram went for a few postings after that too.But the father-daughter bond keeps getting closer each day, every moment!
I had never thought that something as simple as hearing “dad” from a child could become such a complex problem till I met my new neighbours and now close friends! But yes, that’s life and it has its own shocks and surprises planned for each of our journeys. Lets embrace these challenges with a smile and value the power of the love and happiness that being called as “dad” and “mom” brings with it!:)