Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Home

Another insanely early morning, another dull grey airport. Three times in as many days, in as many cities. But at least this time it was home.

Throwing his luggage into the boot of the waiting taxi, he gave quick instructions on where he wanted to go. Home. He leaned back and closed his eyes.

He missed his little girl. He called her every night - he needed her to hear his voice, to know that he was there, even though she couldn't see him. At one and a half, he didn't know how much she really understood, but she seemed to recognise his voice on the phone. "Papa?" she'd say in her clear baby voice. Then happily, "Papa, papa, papa!" That's all she ever said on the phone when he called, and he didn't quite know if it made him feel better or worse.

He loved his family and he loved his job, but there were days when the sheer weight of all the demands on his time and energy felt like a giant hand pressing down on him, pushing him down, down into the ground.

He became aware of voices, and opened his eyes. He noticed a small screen, attached to the dashboard by the front passenger seat, playing a movie. He was horrified. Did the taxi driver have a deathwish? Here they were, just getting onto a high speed motorway, where a split second's inattention could cause a deadly pile-up, and the driver was watching a movie?! He curtly told the driver to switch it off, and turn on the radio instead. The driver complied, and he closed his eyes again, trying not to think of the long day ahead.

It could not have been more than 5 minutes when the voices started again. He sat up abruptly and saw that the screen was back on. "Didn't I tell you to turn that thing off?" he asked the driver, angrily. The driver bowed his head in apology. "I'm sorry, sir" he said, and pointing at the front passenger seat, he added, "Baby."

He saw her then, peeping round the side of the front seat, big frightened eyes staring at this loud, angry man in the back seat. A little girl, not much older than his own. He slid across the back seat to get a better look and saw that the passenger seat had been set up as a sort of play pen for the child. There were some rolled up blankets, a few plastic toys, a bottle of water, and a bowl of food. And of course, the small screen, still playing the movie.

She didn't make a sound throughout the journey. Just sat in the front seat, and played quietly by herself. Was this her life, he wondered. Did she spend her days riding in the cab with her father? Did she have no other family? No home?

He didn't ask, of course. He couldn't. He tipped the driver a little more generously than usual. He wanted to say - for your baby - but he didn't. Instead, he smiled at the small face looking out of the side window, and waved as the taxi moved off.

And then he went in, where the little owner of another pair of big bright eyes squealed in excitement on seeing him and jumped into his arms.

He was home.

(This is a fictionalised account of a true incident)

21 comments:

choxbox said...

A bit of Kabuliwallah there..

Poppins said...

Wow. That was touching. And sad. I always feel sad when I see quiet babies, makes me think what forced them to be quiet?

Just Like That said...

oh. that was a sad story. the poor father. Where's the mother, i wonder?
Hope the baby grows up happy- at least the father loves her enough to take her all around with him instead of leaving he in some home/daycare.
Tho' wonder how a little baby of that age stays still in the car...

മഞ്ഞുതുള്ളി said...

sweet :-)

Suki said...

Ouch, ouch. That hurts.

I guess even kids learn to adapt. I just hope even that baby grows up to be happy.

utbtkids said...

Awwww

Anonymous said...

A small kid in the front seat? Wish the driver moves her to the back (but I dont know if the passengers would like that).
Awwwwwwww.. :(
-RJ

Tharini said...

That was such a sad picture to imagine. How heartbreaking to see a little face peeping from the front seat of the car. And I was just agonising over how unsafe for this little one to be in the front seat at all. Poor them. Whatever their set of circumstances are that they have to do it this way.

upsilamba said...

jeee. I cannot take such stories anymore. The heart bleeds quicker, post-baby.

Sue said...

Didn't I tell you you can write?

Go on, now try writing about something that doesn't involve Moppet, your husband or you. Try a family member or a friend's story.

Collection Of Stars said...

Awww...that was so sad.
I hope the little baby is happy.

Aryan's Mom said...

That was indeed a sad story..

DotMom said...

beautifully written. The story is so heartwrenching. hope he was only babysitting her that day and she had a nice home on other days.

Kodi's Mom said...

echo what dotmom said. I hope it was only for a day...and your fictionalized account was beautiful. including the parts where you described 'he's emotions abt his baby known to the world as Moppet. what did 'he' have to say abt the cabbie/abt your writing?

B o o said...

Awww... I cant take such stories anymore. I wont be able to erase the picture of the baby from my mind for days! You have a way with words, MM.

DotMom said...

tagged.

Fuzzylogic said...

This really tugged at my heart. And what a lovely way you weaved emotions all together MM!Simply beautiful.

Pixie said...

Wow! What a story and the way you have written it - Wow!
It touched my heart...

Moppet's Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moppet's Mom said...

You know, that's exactly what I said when Moppet's Papa told me about the incident - that I hoped he was just babysitting for a day. What comforts me is what JLT also said - the child must be loved. Thai men are not particularly family oriented, and for the cab driver to care enough for the child to take her along with him is something at least.

K's mom: I don't think he's read it yet - he's been crazy busy these last few days, I've barely seen him. Will ask and tell you! :-)

WhatsInAName said...

That was a touching incident written in touching manner.

Cant add more to what others have told already :)