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My Father This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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My mother is the only person in the house who talks to me. Every morning when I wake up, she feeds me breakfast – the previous night's leftover rice or milk. Sometimes I have to bring the milk to my mother myself. I like to do this. I walk down the road, down the next road, and then onto a smaller road. On this road there is a man who has three cows. We get milk from the biggest cow. I wait in the garden as the man presses his hands against the pink part of the cow and milk comes out. I bring this in a bottle to my mother.

My father drinks this milk directly from the bottle in one long sip. I saw him do this, and so that's how I drink milk. But he never talks to me. I don't know why. He doesn't do anything bad like hit me or tell me to sleep on the ground or use the bathroom in the small, scary shed behind the house. Some of the other children I play with in the evening say that their fathers hit them. They have marks on their bodies, so I know they are not lying. They have red lines and purple lines and blood comes sometimes.

My father doesn't do this to me. He lets me sleep on the bed and use the bathroom upstairs, which is not scary. But he doesn't talk to me. I don't know why.

But now I think he has to talk to me, because my mother is going away for two weeks. She is going to watch her sister get married. She asked my father if I should go with her, but my father said “Nonsense, Meenatchi. The child has school.”

I didn't know whether I should speak to my father because I do not think I have ever spoken that much to him. I first came to this house when I was six years old, when the man I used to live with died. He had a stomach infection. His mother was my friend, and she told me that he never went to the hospital because he did not have money. He never went to the doctor, who helped sick people without taking money, because he did not like the doctor. He said he would rather die. And the man died. His mother said that he should forget his manhood and just go to the free doctor, but he never did.

Then his mother sent me here, to live with my mother and my father. Since that time, I had barely said anything to my father, so I did not know whether I should open my mouth then, but I opened my mouth quickly. I said, “I do not have school until next month because we have holidays for Pongal.”

My father did not look at me, but he stayed silent for some time. Then he said, “Still, the child should stay. There is no need for him to go with you.”

My mother has left, and so it is just me and my father. Now he has to speak to me.

When I come back from playing in the evening, my father is in the kitchen. I cough, to let him know I am there.

My father turns and asks, “Do you want some rice?”

I do not say anything, because for some time I do not know who he is talking to. He never talks to me.

“Are you hungry, Sivan?” he says. This is my name. That means he is talking to me.

“Yes, Pa,” I say.

He does not say anything until we are sitting down on the chairs and eating the rice with the kozhumbu. He says, “You should not call me Pa, Sivan.”

“Why?”

“I am not your father. I am your mother's husband, but not your father. Your father is the man you lived with 'til you were six. When he passed away, his mother – your grandmother – sent you to live with your mother.”

“Is that why you do not talk to me? Because you are not my father?”

My father continues to eat, but now he is eating slowly and he looks a little sad. “I never knew about you until your grandmother brought you here,” he says. “Your mother never told me.”

“Why not?”

“Because when a man and woman are married, they are supposed to have children with each other. Not with other people.”

“So my mother had children with someone else, not you?”

“Yes, Sivan. She and your father – the one who died of a stomach infection – are your parents.”

“Are you angry with my mother because of that?”

“Not angry,” my father says.

We eat for some time, and I go to the tap and drink water. Very little water comes, but if you hit the wall above the tap hard a little more comes.

We do not talk any more that day, and I go to sleep. When I wake, my father is not at home. It is a Wednesday, so he has gone to the temple, which is next to the house of the man with the cows.

I close the door of the house, lock it with the steel rod, and then run to the temple.

When I reach the temple, my father is inside, standing in front of God and praying. I take off my slippers and run inside and quickly pray to God, and then I pull my father's shirt. He looks down and says, “Sivan, when did you come here? Is the house locked? Did you eat breakfast?”

“I just now came here. I locked the house with the steel rod you always use. I have not eaten.”

“I see.” My father shuts his eyes and continues praying silently. When he opens his eyes, I say, “Can I tell you something?”

My father says yes. So we start walking out of the temple and I put my slippers on and say, “I never called that man my father. His mother was very nice, but he was strange. He sometimes went out for a long time and never came back, so I only spent time with his mother. She was my friend.”

My father nods.

“So, can you be my father?”

My father looks down at me and frowns. He has almost stopped walking, but I pull at his shirt and make him continue.

“I want you to be my father, because I like you.”

He still does not say anything and keeps looking down at his hands.

“Even though you did not talk to me until yesterday, I still want you to be my father.”

My father does not say anything, but when we reach home he has started talking to me.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

houston said...
Dec. 22, 2014 at 5:39 am
original and beautiful awesome!
 
IAmWhoIWantToBe said...
Apr. 26, 2012 at 4:01 am
This is emotional and I love how you show the relationship between these people. Neat job done...
 
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