Sitting in his lawn chair, Shekhar was sipping his evening coffee while viewing the Album on his laptop. The album that he got digitized for it contained his memories from the past and he wanted to preserve it. As he clicked on a picture where he was celebrating the first ever win as the Captain of his School Hockey Team, expressions on his face changed and he seemed to recount the joy he had as a 14 yr old. Its been a journey of almost 20 years from then to where he was today, Coach of the same School's Hockey Team as well as the District Team. As he clicked on and making notes in the notes section of each picture, his expressions kept changing with the pictures until he stopped clicking when he arrived at a picture where he was being hugged by a beautiful girl. "Mrinalini" as he murmured. His expressions changed to one that were a depicting the depth of pain and suffering he would have been through.
He clicked on the Notes and scribed down - "The first Girl who proposed me and my first love, incidentally neither the destiny nor God wanted us to be together. We departed when our team lost its first ever match in 4 years after being crowned the state champions for the first time. Though she left me, she did follow her dream of being a Doctor and is now living in Kalingpong with her Doctor Husband and their too kids. God Bless her with every happiness of her life."
Shekhar again started clicking through the pictures and making notes. The pictures of his School time and then on to his college and he kept making notes for each of the picture. He again stopped at one picture taking a deep breath and uttered - "Shivalika" and then clicked on the notes where he scribed - "My first Crush in the College and apparently my buddy proposed her before I could. The only thing that I could think of was to back out. Though it hurt, but I did earn a friend, well two friends for life. Now they are happily married to each other and have happy with their kids."
While he was busy making notes, he arrived at a picture of a young kid. His eyes seemed to be wet and one could see a tear rolling down his face and dips in the coffee that he was holding to take a sip. He keeps the coffee mug aside and calls for his domestic help. His domestic help comes and he sees the state Shekhar is in. The old man says - "Son, till when you would keep hurting yourself? Why don't you go and tell her that she is your daughter and you are her father?" Shekhar replies - "Steven, do you remember when we met her when she was just 4 years, I guess I met her for the 3rd time. Just if you remember that she called me......." "Shekhar Uncle", Steven completes the dying sentence. Shekhar tells him to get a fresh coffee and clicks on the Notes to scribe the notes for the picture.
Shekhar writes - "My beloved daughter Shyla, whom I saw for the first time when she was 11 mths old. She was so lovely then and she is the most beautiful daughter in the world. I remember the time when she was crying in her mother's lap and not sleeping and I took her in my arms, made her lie on my chest and she was soon fast asleep. She loved to sleep like that and I loved whenever she slept on me. The 11 mths old made me feel like a complete human being."
Shekhar moved to the next picture and clicked on the Notes to scribe - "Shyla, when she was two years old. Could barely meet her for 15 minutes, though I was in that city for a full day. Her mother came to the airport with her only at the last moment when the Security Check was on. I could barely hold her in my arms."
Shekhar moved to the next picture and clicked again to scribe - "Shyla, 4 years old I was in that city for 2 mths, met her 4 times and when met her for the first time that year, she referred me as 'Shekhar Uncle'. During that period, she came to meet me on her B'day and she invited me to her b'day party. I couldn't go as her mother didn't want me to and had categorically told me not to."
Shekhar moved to the next picture where his daughter was seen with another young boy. He scribed - "Shyla with her cousin brother and my nephew Pragyan. She was 5 yrs then and during this visit Pragyan told her that I am her father. She had initially thought I was Pragyan's Father."
On the next picture Shekhar noted - "My first ever visit to Shyla's School. She was happy and elated to see me there. This was the first time she ran towards me screaming Papa. It was also the first time she hugged me."
As Shekhar was making the notes on the pictures, Steven comes back with his coffee as well as phone and tells him, "Son, Shyla on the line." Shekhar takes the phone and says, "hello Beta, how's you?" from the other side Shyla says "Papa, I had been waiting for your call to wish me my B'day. It's so bad of you that you didn't call me the entire day and its the time when I am going to cut the cake, but not without your wishes." Shekhar's eyes once again can be seen wet and he composes himself to say - "Beta, my wishes are with you always and you know that. You know that you are always in your papa's thoughts, just that papa couldn't call. I am really sorry beta."
Shyla from the other side says - "Papa, it happens every year that I have to call you on my b'day and remind you. All the year round, I keep getting your gifts but when I need the most, you don't either send me the b'day gift nor do you call me. I hate you for that papa, I really hate you for that."
Shekhar replies - "Beta you know that papa loves you and he loves you the most. I am sorry beta that I didn't call, but for that don't spoil your mood beta. Blow the Candles out and Cut the cake as I sing the B'day song for you - Happy b'day to you...." As he utters the words, Shekhar hears a female voice "Enough Shyla, now give me the phone and cut the cake” and the phone is hung up from the other side.
Shekhar utters – “Bitch” with a devilish look and picks up the coffee mug to sip his coffee and gets back to his picture album.