C H A P T E R 1 2
Pari into Her Adolescence
Her maturity level was superseding her tender age. The way she approached things was very different, different from any other girl of her age. She was not ingenious in studies but was everyone’s favourite at school. She was never bereft of her hypnotising smile, no matter what the situation was. Perhaps she had that invincible strength from her mother; she was there for all of us. Her mother had that supernatural thing in her. She could grasp everyone’s attention in seconds, by her behaviour as well as by her beauty.
I still remember the night when I had gone over to her place to wish her and Mrs. Bhalla on Diwali. It was a starry night, but it was covered by air pollutants in a minute. Anyway, my parents started spending some quality time with Mrs. Bhalla and her relatives. I went upstairs to see Pari. She was pretty reluctant to come downstairs as she thought she would not look as pretty as her cousins who were seated in the hallway.
“Trust me, you could not be more wrong about it,” I said.
“No, look at them! They look so pretty in their new dresses. I have a new one too but not as pretty as theirs.”
“They think that just by wearing a new dress they could defeat you. Come on, I am not going to allow that,” I said that in a jocular manner just to banter her.
“Will you please stop doing that?” “No,” I said arrogantly.
She stuck her tongue out and imitated me. It was fun, but somehow I convinced her to dress up and meet us in the hallway. It took her an hour to dress up and then when she was coming down the stairs, I could see her eyes moving randomly in search of me. I stood there behind the pillar, hiding from her. She saw my sherwani stole that I had wrapped around my neck. She came stealthily and tackled me from behind.
“You fool, thought you can hide from me, eh?”
“Well, nothing beats your vision, does it?” I replied.
“Nope!” she smiled and said.
Meanwhile, we heard her relatives discussing Pari’s charming and lovable character. In a trice, all attention shifted their base from her well-dressed cousins to her. Pari again gained attention. A hell of an attention grabber the girl was… I thought.
Pari grew up to be just like her mother; a fun-loving girl.. Her charm increased day by day. They say that a girl is born to give a lot of things to the world. I could feel that Pari would also follow the same path, but I knew a girl’s life isn’t that easy, even now! She was approaching puberty and now she would have changes in her; both emotionally as well as physically. Well, the latter came first.
It was her summer holidays, my parents were over the hill now and at that age, no one could tell a thing. On a regular basis, they had health problems now. Thank God, I was there every time with them whenever they needed me. At this age, parents want nothing other than their children’s support, love and care. Apart from that, I was lucky enough to get someone like Kalyanji. He was in his early forties too but was pretty fit and fine.
One summer afternoon when I was feeding fruits to Dad, I could hear a faint wail from the washroom. I at once got up and ran towards it.
“It sounds like Pari,” Mom said. “Go quick,” she said in a worried tone.
I ran towards the washroom. I saw her standing at the entrance of the washroom. She looked pale, afraid and worried.
“What is it, honey?” I enquired.
I could see her face slowly turning white.
“Tell me, dear, did you fall down?” I asked.
She held her head down slowly. I bent down to see her eyes getting wet. Before I could figure out, she said in a very low and shaky voice, “Dad! Blood came out when I tried to pee today! Am I going to die?”
“Oh dear, come to Papa. Nothing is going to happen. Everything shall be fine,” I said to her and drew her closer to me.
I understood what it was and why she got so scared.
I hugged her tightly and took her to her room.
“What was it, Dad?” she asked.
“It was just a normal thing, honey,” I said in a light and gentle manner and stroked her hair that was completely dishevelled.
She still continued to stare at me. Now at this point of time as per the so-called custom of our society, people might say that it is best for a mother to let her daughter know about the physical changes that she might go through during her puberty. I felt the same way for a moment, but then I realised that for all these years I had been both a father and a mother to her and I saw no rational reason behind following this old-world crap.
“What is the matter? Is she alright?” Mom came from the kitchen, limping. She had a bad knee now. Age defied her agility.
“She is fine, Mom. I guess she had her first period.”
“Oh…Nothing to worry about that. She shall know about it herself when she grows up …” she said.
I turned towards Pari. She was still gaping at me in anticipation of an answer to her problem, and she thought that I had an answer for every single thing in the world. I smiled and told Mom that I am going to tell everything to Pari about the kind of physical changes that she might go through during her puberty.
“But that would be very uncomfortable, both for you and Pari,” Mom said.
She was right …right for the time being. During her time, they never got sex education from their parents or especially from their fathers. Every Indian woman would find it strange. That’s how the ball bounces, Mom said. But I looked at things in a different way. I could have let Mom do the talking to Pari, but I wanted her not to step onto the so-called prejudices of Indian society. I shall do it myself. She is twelve now, she can understand things.
(At Pari’s room)
“Now dear, whatever I am going to tell you, you promise me that you shall listen to it very carefully and attentively,” I started.
“The thing that happened to you today is completely normal. Every woman, every female present on earth goes through this. Now dear, do you remember the story that I had once told you about the queen who never had a baby?”
“Yes, I do. Every other queen mocked her for that.”
“Exactly, because being a mother is the happiest moment of a woman’s life and if anyone is deprived of that she considers herself very unlucky. God gave this unique power only to women. They are blessed with this ability to give birth and continue our human race.”
I could see her listening all attentively. She stopped me for a moment to make a bun with her hair and then again signalled me to continue.
“As I was saying, a woman is eligible to become a mother when her body gets enough strength to hold a baby within her. The body gives those signals so that they can understand that their body is ready to take up the responsibility, but mind you, dear, physically their body might be strong enough to carry a baby, but it completely depends upon the woman as to when she wants to carry one. She, apart from being physically healthy, should also be mentally ready.”
“Which signals are you referring to, Dad?” she asked innocently.
“The one that you got today, dear… It is a signal from God that you are growing up. Growing up to become a dynamic young lady who is physically, mind you, only physically ready to bear a child and not mentally.”
I could see her staring at me with an open mouth.
“So, it was a signal?” she repeated the question.
“Dad, why blood then?”
I explained her further about the biological changes that the body of an adolescent girl undergoes. The need for it, to be perfect and how common it was for every single woman on earth.
“What is puberty?”
“What is menstruation?”
“How is sex done? Is it bad?”
Her questions never ended and never did any of my explanations. I had asked her to raise her hand whenever she felt uncomfortable, but she never did. I was successful in making things understandable to her. I did it, I said to myself. She is at an age where she should know about this stuff. Those days are gone when people used to keep their children in dark about these things. She had understood all about this. She felt a bit shy, but then she was all ok with it. She now felt relaxed. I had asked her to take proper food and hit the hay as soon as possible. The next day she had to go out with me to the soccer match. She hated watching soccer though!
I should write this down, I said to myself. I kept on writing these letters to Pari time and again so that she might never ever lose the opportunity of reliving these moments.
21st May, 2036 Wednesday 10:30 pm
You know by now, that I have already written a thousand entries. This dairy contains every single memorable moment of your life. I am writing another one of yours today; the one that you would reckon as a very important one. It describes a phase of your life.
Today you got to know about the most significant part of a woman’s life, Womanhood! How it is always a blessing to be a woman with the majestic power to give birth to our species. Yes, on this day, you learnt how special you are, how powerful you are! It is not only a happy day for you, but also a happy day for me. Pari, now you are growing up, I hope you know that your mom could have been your best friend, but in our family miracles do happen. Your best friend is your dad and he would appreciate you sharing each and every minute detail with him. Let me remind you, dear, no matter what happens, your dad shall be there with you, rooting for you for every good work of yours and every single decision you take. Your mom is there with us all the time. I keep on reminding you because I want you to know that she is there with every decision I make. With every single word that comes out of my mouth she is there to support me and you. Never forget that, never in your life!
Stay well and grow up to be my pride.
Days passed by in their usual pace. Pari grew up to become a very beautiful girl. Her mother would have definitely been proud of her if she were alive. We went to picnic together, fishing, trekking, everywhere. She enjoyed every bit of her life. My parents were proud of me. They said time and again that I have kept all my promises which I had made to Pari on her deathbed.
“Not all yet,” I said every time to end the discussion.
Pari had very few friends at school, but they were nice and trustworthy. They took care of her all the time. Her choice of friends was impeccable. Everyone in the society loved and cared for her. I could hardly remember her ever having a frown on her face. She was becoming the person that my parents and I wanted her to be and I was proud of that.
About The Author
ArijitNeogi was born in a Bengali family in Durgapur (West Bengal) on 7thJan 1992. He moved to Bhubaneswar, Odisha in the year 1999 and was raised and educated there itself. His father works as an accountant in a private company in Bhubaneswar, while his mother is a homemaker. He is a patient, hardworking and suave person. He got his first job as soon as he completed his graduation in the year 2014. He is currently working for Capgemini India Private Limited at Hyderabad, India and stays along with his friends.
The writing bug bit him back in his college days and hence he took up writing as a platform to share his stories with people. It took him about 4 years to pen down his thoughts, create appropriate characters and narrate a modest yet touchy story. Fraction of My Heart is his first novel and he wishes to continue writing in future as well.
He wants to prove to the world that writing doesn’t come easily to people, but if it does, one should try to stick with it. It’s a blessing.