“Dad, how do you spell rimpersement?” “Dear, I thought you knew. Make daddy proud about his little girl! Don’t be silly and stupid like this. Anyway, r-e-i-m-b-u-r-s-e-m-e-n-t.” “What’s VRS and CRS daddy?” “Where did you hear them now! Voluntary and compulsory retirement from service.” ” Why don’t you take them dad! That means you’ll no more have to work and can stay with me at home. You could drive me to school, we could come back in the evening and pick up mom. And you know the best part? I could skip the after-school nursery! That lady is so…” “Dear, that’s not gonna happen now. If I quit, who’s gonna get you all the stuff you want? How will we pay your school fees? The books..” “Oh daddy! I am so stupid. I’ll study and get a job, and then you take the VRS thing then?” “My sweet little thing! It’d be time for my superannuation then!” “er..your what?” “Honey, let’s keep that for a while later. Now walk fast, so that we don’t get caught in the rain.”
How much time passed by, after that one little conversation! Nobody ever knows. Nobody ever knew what happened to that sweet little girl and her daddy. Over the years, things changed. Drastic, dramatic, diplomatic. All kinda changes had come over people, places, things, but memories. Next to change, I think memories are the one other thing that doesn’t change. It either stays or doesn’t. So her memories, or his memories, were now lost in the deluge of the new striking events, that has brought their lives to this moment.
So now is when he retires. Filling out the PF forms, he had obvious difficulties. He didn’t care enough to ask for help, she didn’t bother to offer help either. As he was filling them out, the moment of silence loosely hung on a thread. And the thread was so broken, and words so came flowing in, when the mother and the rest of the family joined the father and the daughter. He was almost done with a nominee field left out. And he asked, “Sudha, what’s Bhavya’s DOB?”. Her world just crashed right in front of her. Why was he asking mom about her sister’s date of birth? Is she going to be the nominee? Why not me, she thought. It wasn’t about the money. Now that everybody earned shitloads of money, nobody cares. It wasn’t about the authority either. But didn’t she and he have a pact? A superannuation-slash-VRS pact? When he finally promised to be with her, spending more time with her. And when she could finally reach out for her dad, at all points enroute being daddy’s pride! And now, all of that’s gone? Misunderstanding? Miscommunication? Mis-what? She just missed that one pact she had hoped to exist. The one that she was sure would be kept. Why do people change like there was never a past? Like, there was no history that they shared with the others in their present! She died a little inside, but casually sat there, right opposite to him, with no emotions.
Could Sudha be right? Did I unnecessarily make a fuss about the whole retirement thing by calling the return-back party at home? She seems too burdened with the chores. But then, did I have a choice. I so wanted my little girl to be here with me, while I retire and step out of my office. I have finally made enough space and time for her in life. Perhaps, Sudha was right. I shouldn’t have wanted her to come. She seems so uninterested. She’s right about moving on, from daddy’s little one to the woman she has become now. You make me proud, dear. But I would have been a lot more happier, if only things were slightly different. And if we could still get back to our old VRS pact! Or did that already slip into our cold mask of oblivion!