I sat beside my wife as she lay on her bed, cradling our new-born who was just a few hours old.
I had no premonition of the terror headed my way; instead, my joy was complete at that moment- a wife I loved and who loved me, a new daughter and my father leaning on the wall, watching us.
I saw the almost teary glint in his eyes, the way he clenched his lips to avoid crying. He was happy, I knew that, and definitely proud of me. Raising me alone had not been easy on him, but here I was with a successful legal practice and a beautiful family.
I smiled at him, he glowed back, let our eyes lock, then he suddenly stood upright.
“Son, now that you are truly a man, its time I told you something.”
I nodded, feeling slightly heady that my father would bequeath such, well, high honorific on me. He did not attempt to excuse my wife; he knew we had no secrets between us. Saved me a conversation, I guess.
“I know I wasn’t anything close to a perfect father, but I did my best. I’ll tell you this though, the day you were born was my saddest day ever, or so I thought then. Your mother died having you; they brought you out –” His voice was breaking, choked.
“Dad, it’s alright, I know about this already.” I stood up to go console him.
He waved me back; that was my Dad, ever the gruff, no-help-needed person.
I sat back down.
“You know nothing, Son.” The voice was firmer, his spine straighter. This was going to be something, I thought.
“I was sad that day, but not just for the reason you think. You were born very early in the morning, and when they brought you out crying, telling me your mother was, urm, dead, I just did not want to see you at that moment. I told them to go clean you up and put you in a cot. Throughout that day, I sat in the hall outside the neonatal ward, sick of myself and staring into space. In retrospect, I think I might have been slightly catatonic.” He paused, as if the flow of words had been cut off abruptly “But later that evening, I went into the ward and saw you, for the first time. I fell in absolute love with you, just like that. I think you know what I mean, now.”
I nodded again, letting off a smile. “Yes sir, I do.”
“Good. So at that moment, I banished all thoughts of self-pity and fear; I would give you the best life possible, I promised. Since it was the hospital I worked in as a Doctor, I asked to see your charts and know how your health was like. That is when I saw it.” A plaintive look took over his face, he didn’t speak for a while
“Saw What, Dad?”
“Your blood group, Son. Of course, I immediately ordered for confirmatory tests, but they were right the first time. You are B+, but your Mother and I were both O+; it was not possible if you were our child.” He chuckled sardonically, but a certain horror had started creeping from my stomach into my throat. “I thought it was a case of mixed up babies, so I investigated to know if you had somehow been mixed with our own real baby. But every child was properly accounted for – so that left only one option. We did a DNA test; that was when I became sure you were not my biological son.”
“Daddy, tell me you are joking – ” I asked, rising from my sit and walking to him
“You know I never joke. I don’t have time for such foolery.”
I was dazed, like somebody had slapped me so hard I’d woke up in an alternate reality where up was down and nothing was right.
(Writers’ Note: This is a 4-part series.)