It was one of the cool, chilly nights of December and I was out with a friend, Aamir to buy some groceries. As we stepped out of our house, fog surrounded us. We could barely see anything, so we decided to walk to the nearest shop. I could feel the frosty wind forcing into every cell of my face making me shiver. I tried rubbing my hands together to produce home heat but that wasn’t helping much so I put them back into the pockets of my favourite black jacket which I wear almost every time I go out. I wanted to ask Aamir about his condition because of the cold weather but kept quiet as I was walking behind him and didn’t want to speed up because of the wind. Another genuine reason for not walking beside him being his height that was just the double of mine which forced me every time to ask God, “why this discrimination?”

Usually, my mum doesn’t allow me to stay out after sunset but as she knew I was with Aamir, she was a bit relaxed. After listing all the items I wanted, I finally asked the shopkeeper, “What is the total bill amount?”

Smiling at me while putting all the things in a transparent plastic bag he answered, “Only 250 rupees Ma’am.”

I gave him the money, picked the packet and moved back. As I turned, I saw Aamir talking to a girl. She had a round face with a fair complexion and was standing with a long brown stick which was giving support to her left leg. While I could notice anything other than her handicapped leg, I heard Aamir’s voice calling my name.

“Hey Neda, meet Diya, my classmate. We used to study together in the middle school.” I could easily sense the excitement in his voice, the kind of excitement of meeting an old friend after so long. I and Diya exchanged a friendly gesture followed with a smile and all of us started walking on my way to home.

After a while I realised, again I was walking behind the two, this time struggling with the heavy bag. I could barely listen to what they were talking but I was certainly upset with Aamir for not helping me with the bag. As I was transferring the bag from right hand to the left managing the weight, I suddenly heard Aamir running on the road, screaming, “Diya wait, please wait, I am so sorry, listen to me…I apologise…do not go like this, please.” Before I could understand the situation I saw a bright light of a car coming close to Aamir, scissoring the heavy fog. 1…2…3… “BANG” The car flew away hitting Aamir. In a blink of eye Aamir was lying on the road, crying in pain. I ran towards him as fast as I could. I was scared, very scared and felt so helpless. It seemed all of my senses had stopped working. At the same time, I wanted some magic to happen so that everything could go back to normal. But that was a reality, a harsh reality which I had to face.

As I was thinking what step to be taken, I found that place a bit familiar where Aamir was lying and I was sitting just beside him. “It’s my home, I am in front of my own house.” A sigh of relief rushed my mind. I decided to take Aamir to the home where he could at least get some first aid treatment as fast as possible. I helped him to stand and got to know it was his arm that was fractured and not the legs. He rested his hand on my shoulder and we started walking slowly. Finally, we reached home and my mum became shocked to see the condition and started to panic. She was raining questions and answered them all by herself. After some time I asked mum to be quiet and think who to call at that point of time and ask to take Aamir to the hospital.

“I will take him to the hospital,” an old, familiar, serious sound echoed my ears. It was him, yes it was him, my father. I did not want to turn back to check my instincts as I barely wanted to face him. But how can he be satisfied by not showing his face to me? I saw him standing in front of me. He was still the same, the same stubborn personality who left me 15 years back. I could see the same anger on his face, felt the same negative vibes, his ability to scare me with his gesture was also the same.

“I will take him to the hospital,” he repeated, this time making an eye contact. I was unable to utter a single word. Lots of things started running inside my mind. “Don’t be scared…he is just a bad person who left you long ago…now he has no right on you…you have to be strong…do not let him win…you are a brave girl…you’re not alone, etc.” After the whole motivation session inside me, I stood up to give him a good reply, I realised I was sitting in the hospital lobby waiting for the doctor to tell us about Aamir’s reports. I saw him walking to and fro outside the doctor’s cabin.

I never addressed him as ‘father’ as I believed he was some kind of Voldemort of Harry Potter series and will return back if his name was taken by me, so I always called him as ‘him’ just to be safe.

An hour passed and there was no sign of the doctor. I was getting impatient so I started walking in the corridor slowly just to kill time. After a while, I saw him coming towards me. This time I didn’t get scared as I was being self-motivated constantly. Finally, he was there in front of me and before he could spill his poisonous words on me, I raised my voice saying, “Why are you here? Don’t even think of getting back into our lives…you are nobody to us now…you lost us long ago…just stay away from us.”

I spoke almost everything which was in my mind and expected he will leave silently after the reality check session. But on a contrary, his eyes got wider in anger, his face turned red and he literally roared at me, breaking all the silence of the hospital, raising his voice to the highest pitch he said, “No matter what I did or how much time has passed or what you think about me. The fact is I was your father, I still am and will always be your father. You will never get rid of me.”  I was shocked, rather I was scared the way he shouted at me. I was unable to react and was standing still with the tears filled in my eyes.

Tears rolled down my cheeks, and all over the pillow too, and I started crying badly. As I opened my eyes I found myself lying on the bed. It was a dream, just a dream, a bad one, I consoled myself. I wanted to cry my heart out. I cried, but this time happily and thanked God that it was just a dream, another bad dream.