Unlike other days, Maria hummed a sad song, softly, today as she walked to school with her father. She did not have a mother but she had no problem with it. Her father, Jason, was a very caring and loving father indeed.
Normally, upon reaching school, Maria would have kissed her father goodbye and would have run off to meet her friends, but today, as soon as she had kissed her father, instead of joining her friends, she continued to watch him till he vanished in the crowd. A truth that her father had concealed from her had finally encircled her and now it always bothered her. Maria had been told that her father was a manager in a big company but in reality, it wasn’t so.
You see, sometimes even our loved ones tend to hide certain things.
Jason struggled through the crowd of New York, in an attempt to reach his place of work, Americana Bites, early today, unlike other days. But in vain, he reached late again, at 9:15. As soon as he opened the door to the staff area, the manager eyed him angrily. Jason was sure he would have to work extra today as well. No wonder, he, as a waiter, was made to do all the work of serving and washing again. Despite that, the manager cut off another 2% off his monthly salary on the excuse of him being late.
Jason sighed as he went up to the staff area to change, as his shift was over now. As he walked through the streets of Times Square, he began to think about his daughter, Maria who should have been back home by 2:20 with his neighbour, Camelia. He suddenly remembered that there was a vacancy at the Biscuit Factory. He rushed off as the day became hot and the wind began to blow. After much persuading, he was put on to the work of unloading the wheat bags from the trucks. Jason sweated profusely and his back ached miserably as he continuously unloaded the heavy bags of wheat into the warehouse. He was sure, he would have given up till now if it had not been for the smile of Maria in front of his eyes. After 3 hours of work, Jason was given a pittance of only 13 dollars. But without much regret, he took it quietly and jogged off on to the Brooklyn Bridge.
He soon began to wonder about the monthly expenses of the house and Maria’s school fees. He knew he was quite short on money but he also knew that Maria’s education was of utmost importance. Unlike him, he wanted Maria to become a successful woman when she grew up. He would have also been a well-off person today if it hadn’t been for his poverty. Thinking all these, he walked to the Fashion Outfitters, a clothes store, where he worked till 8 in the night.
After 3 hours of handling irritating and abusive rich people, bragging about their money, he returned home, looking forward to seeing Maria and her beautiful smile. As usual, she welcomed him home with lots of kisses and hugs and they together sat down to do her homework. After some time, they ate food and went to bed, offering their prayers.
All this time Maria had thought her father came home after working on a laptop, in a high-rise building and ordering people to do one work or the other. Little did she know that every day, every hour, every minute, her father struggled to make even a handful of money for their survival and her education.
Although she had never asked her father for toys, she had never also thought about her father in this way. She had never imagined her kind father to work like a labour but present himself to appear like a gentleman. If it had not been for Camelia aunty and her curiosity, she would have never been able to discover this truth. Now she was even more determined to study hard and become a successful and rich woman.
After all, it is not always that a mother only sacrifices so much for her kids, a father does an even greater share. He is the man who works in all weathers, conditions and situations to make sure his kids never suffer. He is the one who goes against all odds to protect his family and make sure that no despair falls over them. It’s high time we realize that fathers are also a great part of our foundation and they also deserve to be equally acknowledged, loved, and cared for.
~Suhanee Ranjan, AIS Noida
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