Readers Write In #174: Goodbye

Posted on May 11, 2020

13


(by Nitin CV)

What’s the platform number? My father asks.

Three, I say.

He knows it already, but he asks just to make conversation. We have not been on the best of terms for the last three days. This is a regular feature in our relationship. We argue about some small, inconsequential matter; and before you know, a major fight breaks out. We slam doors and make grand exits. Few days later, we start speaking again. We become amicable and wait for the next fight to happen.

This time it is different. Something bad is going to happen. I can feel it in the pit of my stomach.

We reach platform three. The train has already arrived. Dad has a window seat but it doesn’t matter. It is an overnight journey. Besides, he doesn’t care too much for scenic views. There is a guy sitting in my father’s seat. I show him our ticket and he leaves.

I get out of the train and stand outside his window.

Thank you for dropping me, he says.

No problem, I reply. I shuffle my feet and look around. It is quite cold.

You should have worn your sweater, he says.

It is not too cold. I tell him, digging my hands deep into my pockets.

I look around. There’s an all-night coffee kiosk nearby.

Do you want a coffee?

No.

How about a bottle of water?

Sure.

I’ll be back in a minute, I tell him.

As I walk past the numerous faces and bodies around me, I cannot shake this uneasy feeling that I will not see my father again. He’ll be back in two days, I remind myself.

I give him the water bottle and he thanks me. The feeling in the pit of my stomach is really strong. It is almost physical. I start to get scared because the pit has never been wrong until now. Every time I get this sinking feeling in my stomach, bad things happen.

Do you have to go today? I ask him.

Yes. The meeting is tomorrow. I told you.

Yeah, you did.

He looks closely at me. Is everything alright?

Yeah. I am good. Don’t worry.

He doesn’t seem worried but he continues looking at me.

We’ll talk when I come back, he says.

The train begins to move. I put my hand through the window. He shakes my hand, brings it close to his mouth and kisses it lightly.

Goodbye, my dear son. He says, like as if he is writing an old-fashioned letter.

Goodbye, dad. I tell him. Message me when you reach the hotel.

He waves and the train leaves the station.

I sigh.

I fight the urge to take out my phone and google the stats for train accidents in India. Instead, I pull out my bike keys and walk towards the parking lot.

Boy, it is really cold tonight. I shiver involuntarily as I ride back home. The roads are empty but I cannot go beyond 40 kmph. It is that cold. Please, please, please, don’t take my dad away tonight. I promise you I’ll never fight with him again. I send out these messages to the Guy upstairs but I wonder if he is listening.

I take the next left and all as if on cue, I see is a bright white light. It blinds me completely. What the fuc-

I hear the horn blaring and my brain puts two and two together but it is too late.

CRRRAAASH!!!

The truck slams into me. I am lifted 12 feet into the air before I fall down splat onto the hard concrete. I think my skull is broken but I am not sure. It is too hard to think. Blood is pooling all around me. I can feel it in my mouth.

I cannot feel my hands and legs but I don’t want to move them anyway. I just want to rest for a little while.

I look up at the sky and see the stars twinkling silently. It is quite beautiful. A great winter night.

Damn, if only I had worn my sweater, I think as I close my eyes and go to sleep.