Nathu toiled at his farm, in the scorching heat. His farm? Well…not exactly one he could call his own anymore. It was mortgaged and he was simply allowed to work as a daily wage labourer in it to pay off his debts. Just to pay for his son’s college admission and expenses in the city, poor Nathu had no option but to mortgage it. It’s been several years now since then, and since he last met his son. After he left for the city, Raju, his son, had never returned. Several inquiries later too Nathu failed to find Raju's whereabouts. It seemed he had simply vanished with all of Nathu’s hard earned money. Everyone told Nathu to give up his search. Useless son, they all said, Kisi sheher-wali ke chungool mei aa gaya hoga.... Slowly, reluctantly Nathu was coming to terms with it as well - that his son would never return. Maalti, his wife, everyday would simply beat at her chest in grief, the first couple of years; and then one day left the world leaving Nathu all alone.

Nathu never gave up though. No matter what everyone said, his eyes still pined for a glimpse of his son. And somewhere in his heart, he knew, one day his son would be back. And he would forgive him. He was after all his own blood. Such was his love – a father’s love. But no word came from his son. Months turned into years. With age now catching up with him, Nathu was getting weaker by the day and wondered if he’d be even alive to see his son at all ever. It was his one last wish before he died - to see his son. He had managed to secure half of his farm back, but not without working like a slave day and night. But for whom, his eyes would get moist at the thought. He had no one.
He used to re-collect everyday Raju's childhood years, when everyday Nathu would chase him around, carrying a stick in his hand. Those were playful chases and finally he'd find Raju hiding on top of a Mango tree. He had climbed all the way up, but was unable to come down. Nathu would then have to climb up as well and get his son safely down, only to chase him again. One day when Raju caught fever, he had hugged his child close to give him warmth, till he got well. Such memories would moisten Nathu's eyes. If only his son ever came back. Did he even remember his old father?


Raju was sitting at his desk. Another day had gone wasted listening to his over-dominating wife. Many times he regretted ever marrying Arti. She was as wicked and scheming as she could get, he came to know that later. First, she separated him from his old parents, and was now threatening to separate him from his own son. City-bred Arti, her first condition of marrying him, many years ago, was he’d have nothing doing with his village or parents ever – it marred her lifestyle and status, which was that of a top-class elite. Blind in love, Raju had agreed to her ever whim and fancy – to the extent that he ended up being a hen-pecked husband. But to make it worse, his wife tortured him even more. She had found a new love, and was threatening to leave him and take their only son away. Raju was silently bearing the pain for years, but the thought of separation from his son made him recollect his own separation from his father and mother. He couldn’t afford that at any cost. It made him realize how pained his father must’ve been who had mortgaged off his property for his education. The day also being Father's day, pain gnawed at Raju's heart. How he wished he could just run and hug his father and take comfort in the secured shelter of his love!

That day, Raju made a decision. He had to; it was high time. Leaving the house abruptly, first, he went to his son’s school and collected him. He had secretly already packed a few things they'd both need. A glance at his watch said, it was time. They reached the station hurriedly, just when the train was about to leave. Raju heaved a sigh of relief when he boarded successfully, his son carefully wrapped in his arms. He was kidnapping both himself and his son, away from the torture he faced everyday. To hell with his wife. He had enough evidence of her infidelity. He’d never give his son up for her, never.


Nathu finished milking the cows early morning and was as usual headed for the fields. He needed a walking stick now; his back was hunched. He had become very frail too. From corner of his eyes, he saw two figures approaching. It was still early morning and with the dewy surroundings it was hard to make out who they were. His eyesight was getting poor

“Babuji,” he heard one of the approaching figure say. Instantly, Nathu turned around. It couldn’t be, he thought, it just couldn't be! But it was. He couldn’t believe his eyes. It was Raju, his son...his flesh and blood. Standing right before him. He had changed so much from the young lad, Nathu had last seen him as. He looked like a grown-up man now. But his eyes were the same. Yes, it was indeed his Raju. Oh..How he wished Maalti was here too, to witness this miracle. His son had indeed come back. There was a miniature Raju standing right next to him, looking exactly as Raju used to when he was young. His grandson? Nathu wondered. As if hearing his thoughts, Raju came crashing down on his knees and folded both his hands in repentance. “Yes…Babuji. Hume maaf kar dijiye, ( forgive us ),” Raju said, with tears streaming down his cheeks.

“Hush…,” Nathu said. No words were needed. Nathu simply opened his arms and the next instant Raju was hugging him tight, crushed in his arms. Both cried that day. But it was a cry of happiness. On meeting his father again, Raju felt so happy and relieved that he never felt in all these years.
“Aare pagle, humne toh kab-ki maaf kar diye ( I forgave you long ago ). I always knew you’d be back. Akhir beta kiska hai,” Nathu spoke, his eyes sparkling with happiness. They hugged and hugged again. Indeed, with hugging all the pain of years gone by were erased away instantly and forever.
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( Images - ) He held your hand as you learnt to walk. He picked you up when you were low. He gave you counsel in your darkest times. He cared for you when you were sick. He gave you a tight hug whenever you needed it. Maybe today, he needs a little something from you. A small gesture can go a long way in letting your father know how thankful you are to him for everything that he has done for you. You do not need an expensive gift to express yourself. Just wrap your arms around him and give him the best gift ever, a tight hug.
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