Anshu Choudhry’s short story is a moving portrayal of a father as seen by a child, growing up in a patriarchal society.
My father had never been as a father is supposed to be. No, he was not stereotypical but a specimen quite dissimilar to those around or an expectation of him that I carried in my head. For obvious reasons, Sid and I had never been able to call him “Papa” or “Daddy” or even experimented with any affectations suitable to his identity in our lives. He surprised me often and shocked me many a time in my memories of him. Just today, when he sent news of his homecoming, he unnerved everyone. Mother, livid and distraught, is shooting off orders to get used to the idea of his undesirable presence.
“Get your things, Sid’s cycle, and other junk out of the backroom. Take the sheets from the laundry and make the bed. No more can be done for that scallywag.” She makes no pretense of her impatience, goes back to her dishes, and rudely clangs them under the tap gushing at top speed as if the water splashing around would attenuate her anxiety.
“What about the meal Mommy? “ Of course, it is going to rile her more but it has to be addressed.
“What about it? Aren’t their eggs in the fridge?” She suspects I am being cheeky on the premise that the father’s hunger may be disposed of with a couple of scrambled eggs after he had lost the right to mutton. He had never preferred chicken anyways, and so eggs were the easy resolve.
Six dumb eggs—white and polished and oval, sit mute and cozy on the rack in the mild cold of the refrigerator door like cheap pearls fitted in plastic, elegant enough for the likes of the father. What else could he ask for? What more did he deserve? We are in complete agreement with the mother’s opinion. She has somehow finished the dishes and is wiping her hands rather aggressively. I sympathize with her for the many things she has to contemplate in anticipation of his arrival.