[This post has been written for YEAH WRITE # 307 WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGE for FICTION. The prompt for this week is “It’s been a while since I woke at 4 a.m.”]
The alarm blared out loud in the darkness. Riya turned it off with her half sleepy eyes. It had been quite some time since Riya had woken up at 4am. The last time she could remember was when she had to study for college final exams.
Today Riya had to catch an early morning flight to Delhi. She had barely got any sleep last night. After she had received the call from Zainab at around 11.30 pm, the next morning 6am flight was the first one she could book herself on.
Riya had never met Zainab. When she had called the previous night, Riya was a little taken aback. She had heard about her only once from her aunt.
Riya managed to catch the flight on time. She was a tad bit nervous. This was the first time she was travelling to Delhi. And with the news around of Delhi being such an unsafe city, frightened her even more.
Riya managed to get a cab from the airport to her hotel. She quickly freshened up and booked a cab to go to the hospital. She had managed to gobble down some breakfast at the airport itself.
Her heart was racing all the way to the hospital. What was Riya going to say? How was she to react? It dint strike her until this moment.
Zainab had messaged her the room number last night itself. She took the directions from the front desk office and headed for the room. Her heart pounding so hard that she could even hear it beating.
She knocked on the door softly. A young lady in her 20s opened the door. A big smile spread across her face with tears flowing from her eyes almost momentarily. “I am so glad you could come Riya” Zainab hugged her almost immediately. Riya too embraced her with a slight hug, totally unsure of the emotions flooding inside her.
Zainab ushered her into the room. The sight that lay in front of her… There was a man on the hospital bed with too many medical equipment attached to him, lying there almost lifeless.
Riya walked closer to the hospital bed. Her heart pounding like never before. Her eyes welled up in tears all of a sudden. Her head was reeling. There lying right in front of her was the man who had given birth to her. Her father.
This was the first time she was ever seeing her father in real life. All these years she had only seen him in pictures. She had a very vague idea of what his face even looked like. Riya’s father had left her mom even before Riya was born. He had fallen in love with another woman and left her mother right in between the verge of becoming a mother. Riya had hated her father ever since she had known about him. But her mother always tried to explain to her that her father was not a bad human being, just that he fell in love with someone else.
And here he was lying down on the hospital bed, counting his last breathes. He was terminally ill, and the doctors had said he had just few more hours to live. In those last moments, he had one last wish… He wanted to see his daughter Riya for the first and last time.
Zainab called out “Baba… this is Riya” Riya sat beside him on the bed. His eyes suddenly opened and he reached out to hold her hand. He was weak and shivered even while holding her hand. A faint smile on his lips. He couldn’t say a word, but his eyes spoke. Spoke of how much he had missed his daughter and how much was he longing to see her.
The hatred in Riya’s heart melted away that second, when her father held her hand. How much she longed for her father all her life and now on his death bed she got to see him. She rested her other hand on his hand and held it tight.
At the same time, he reached out for Zainab. Zainab came by on the other side, and held her father’s hand too. Riya silently watched. He longingly looked at both of them. First at Zainab, he mumbled something very softly “Thank you” and then he turned to look at Riya and said “Sorry!” He took his last breathe. The daughters burst out crying with the final goodbye from their father…