It was a Saturday, mum had taken granny and my sister out to town and I was playing on the computer and suddenly some thing went wrong with the computer, it froze in the middle of my game, so I decided to get my dad to help out. "Dad" I shouted from the study down the stairs, tapping on the keys hoping some thing would work again.  "Dad" I shouted again this time louder. "Yes, I will be there in a minute son" he shouted back. I started playing with buttons now on the screen on the main drive trying to get it to work but the computer was stuck and for some reason my dad was just not coming upstairs. "Daaaaaaaaaadddddd" I shouted down the stairs. I waited.

I was annoyed at this point with the computer, cross with it for getting stuck. So I crawled under the computer desk and started pulling at plugs and with one sudden flash, every thing on the computer turned off.

"Where are you? Come and help me NOW Dad!!" I screamed. I stomped down the stairs, deliberately to make my dad sorry for making me wait so long.

 

"What are you doing?" I shouted and just as the final word escaped my shouting mouth I found him sitting at the table with his head in his hands. He looked at me, his eyes were bright red, and turned his head to the window and away from me.  Then it was silent. I waited. Maybe it was my fault? Maybe I had shouted too much.

"I just needed a little help" I whispered into the silence. Silence, more silence.

"It's ok Mitali, I'll be up in a minute son" my dad said talking to the window. What could he be looking at out there? It was raining and grey, not a bird in the garden, just wet, grey grass and bare spiky trees.

"What are you looking at Papa?" I said, walking around to see his face, he quickly turned his head so I dived around the other side. And then I realised he had been crying, he was very sad. "Papa, what is the matter?" I said very quietly putting my hand on his shoulder.  "I'm worried. Can I help?" I said remembering how my mum used to stroke my face when I cried. I rubbed his shoulder with one hand and patted his head with the other.

"Oh you are alright, my son. I'm fine." He said.

"But you're not papa otherwise you wouldn't be crying." I whispered in his ear. He pulled me to his side and looked up at my face and said very slowly.

"My son, I‘m crying because I miss my grandmother." his hand was shaking as he put it on mine. "I never said goodbye to my grandma, we had a big fight just before we left India to come here all those years ago and we never spoke again. She died six months ago and I never said sorry and we never said goodbye." he looked up at me, his deep brown eyes brimming with watery tears.

"I remember lots of lovely things about your grandma too," I said.  Dad smiled. "I remember picking big juicy mangoes with your grandma from her tree in the garden and our faces getting covered in juice as we ate the delicious fruits. I remember her giving me tea with cardamom and lots of milk when I was sleepy or sad. She was a lovely woman and some times, once in a while I miss her a lot too."

We sat there for a little while, my hand on his shoulder, my other hand stroking his head. "Come on Son" he said eventually taking me by the hand and up the stairs to fix the computer. When my mum came back I left him there to fix the computer but after ten minutes I knocked on the study door. "Come in" he said and mum and I followed me with a warm cup of milky Indian tea and my mama held in her hands a big plate full of lots of slices of fresh, yellow mango.

"We'll look after you darling" my mum said as he took us both in his arms. It is just as important to be looked after as it is to look after the people around you. I love my sweet, quiet, sometimes sad dad.

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