About ten years ago, I was posted in a suburban town near Kolkata. I used to visit my permanent residence in Kolkata once a month during a weekend. I had just returned to my workplace on Monday morning by a local train and was walking across the platform to the sound of tingling rickshaw bells in order to look for a rickshaw. Usually, a lot of bargaining takes place before a rickshaw can be hired and I was talking to one such rickshaw puller when I overheard an interesting exchange between two rickshaw pullers.

One rickshaw puller was telling the other fellow, both of whom were in their early 20 s "Why don't you take this couple to their destination? After all, they live close to where you live." The fellow addressed looked wistfully at the other and said, "That is why I do not want to go. My children will invariably get to see me and will fall at my feet imploring me to stay back and play with them. My heart will rule my head and I will not feel like coming back for the day. ......I cannot afford to do that."

That was fatherhood at its best asserting itself through a poor rickshawpuller who preferred to stay away from his locality in order that his emotions of fatherhood did not get the better of him.

On the other hand I have seen a highly educated father disown his own child because of some adjustment problems he had with his wife. The couple divorced in a messy manner and the woman had to withstand outrageous insults hurled loudly at her father and her in court by the husband. She bore it silently. We came to know later that the highly educated father left for Dubai in search of greener pastures but never did he inquire about his first child nor laid any claim to her.

Yes it was a girl child and that was one of the reasons for his disowning his own child in open court.

The girl child had some psychological problems in school. She felt sad when she found that the other children had fathers who came to school to take them back but she had none. She had become very obstinate and threw tantrums very often. Consulting a psychiatrist helped and she enjoyed her singing and dancing classes.

I am puzzled when I think of the two fathers - a poor rickshawpuller and an engineer. How could the second man be so merciless? He too was a father! I feel sorry for him as he denied himself the joys of fatherhood for the first time in his life! He has remarried but how did his heart fail to bleed at the thought of being separated from his only daughter then!



More by :  Prof. Arundhati Sarkar

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