DADDY’S GIRL (Episode 4)
Arnold sighed as he poured himself a bottle of whiskey. He shook his head, trying not to recall any more scenes from his past.
“I don’t like men who take alcohol, Arnold. They irritate me” he recalled Amanda’s words one day when they were at a restaurant and saw a drunk couple. He dropped the glass and threw himself onto his bed, closed his eyes and waited for sleep to come knocking at his door…….
THE NEXT MORNING…..
9:00 AM (Gateway international school)…
Madam Helena walked around the class, distributing drawing sheets and poster colors to each student.
Done, she sat down and waited as each student drew a picture of their family…
She was sitting at the far end of the classroom in a corner, staring at the blank sheet and colors. She had been asked to draw their families and she didn’t know what to draw except for her nanny. She had only been told about her mother who had gone to heaven but her nanny had never shown her a picture of her mother and her father, well he didn’t like her and never treated her nicely, he had never come to drop her off at school or tell her bedtime stories or smile at her and she was beginning to think he wasn’t really her real father.
Fiona bit the tip of her pencil and began to chew on it, wondering what to draw, then she suddenly smiled. Removing the pencil from her mouth, she began to draw…………
“Time up kids!! Leave your drawing sheets and go out for a break” Madam Helena said, getting up and collecting the sheets from each table one after the other as the pupils ran out holding snacks and lunch boxes except Fiona who sat in her corner.
After taking the last sheet, she turned to leave when she spotted the drawing. She turned to face the girl
“Fiona? Why didn’t you complete your drawing?”
“I’ve finished it teacher” she replied chewing the tip of her pencil. She had drawn a picture of her and her nanny, Grace.
“Is that your mother?”
Fiona shook her head from side to side.
“My nanny tells me mummy is up there. In heaven” she answered pointing at the ceiling.
“Oh…… Why didn’t you draw your father then”
Fiona’s head shot up at the question, fear registering on her face. Her father had always scolded her for things she hadn’t even done and she feared if he ever saw the drawing she made of him, he would scold her like always.
The last time she had gone to show him a similar drawing in his study, he had gotten angry and shouted at her. The look he always gave her scared the hell out of her.
“N..no. He will beat me” she replied softly, tears welling up in her eyes. She was a very sensitive and fragile child just like her mother and the cruel treatments she got from her father made her nervous and scared all the time.
She sometimes wished Arnold would take her to school every morning, kiss her goodbye, or help her do her homework or carry her each time she felt scared in the dark, or buy her toys but he never did.
“Your father will beat you when you draw a picture of him? Why?” Helena asked taking a seat by her. Silence.
“Fiona?” There was no reply. She drew closer and realized her chest was heaving up and down….she was crying silently… Helena stared in confusion as she pulled Fiona into a hug, caressing her hair and coaxing her till she calmed down. It was obvious something was troubling her, maybe that’s why her marks had recently decreased drastically…
“Its okay” she coaxed…..
10:00 AM (The A&A construction and consultancy firm)
“Get out!!!” Arnold yelled at his assistant who scurried away in fright closing the door behind her. He frowned and grabbed his cup of coffee and began to sip. After a few sip, he groaned and pushed the cup away, facing his computer. He typed for a few minutes and then hit his keyboard angrily yanking it away. He was angry, very angry and sad at the fact that his late wife wasn’t present to witness this day.
She had always told him one day, he was going to have the biggest construction firm where he would be signing at least five meals per day and now, today, when it had finally come true, she wasn’t with him. He used to spend sleepless nights drawing and designing houses, restaurants, and other buildings but yielded no results and she was always there to encourage him. Why did she have to leave him so soon and painfully? Why? He had asked God that question a thousand times each night but he never got an answer. He loved her, too much to forget everything they had shared. He runs his fingers through his hair and sighed.
“How long will you keep sulking like this Arnold. Its been six years already” Arnold looked up to find his friend, Alex standing before him. He hadn’t heard him enter his office.
“I’m not sulking Alex”
“You are my friend. Just look at yourself. You have become a shadow of yourself. All you do is work, work, work. Go out Arnold, make friends, try to let yourself go, fall in love again, smile again, be happy and live.”
“I forgot how to live a long time ago Alex. I’m fine just the way I am”
“Really? And Fiona? Won’t you at least do it for her?” Alex questioned. Arnold rolled his eyes.
“She has a nanny.”
“Come on dude. You and I know, what every child needs is parental love and care. You shouldn’t vent out your anger on her. She is too little. ”
Arnold looked at his friend for a few seconds and then stood up straightening his tie.
“Let’s go have some breakfast. I’m hungry” he walked out without waiting for a reply. Alex sighed and followed. He knew his friend was only using that as an excuse to change the topic.
God!, he thought, if only someone would come into his friend’s life to change his way of living.
3:00 PM (Gateway international school)
“Alright, class. It’s closing. Pack your books into your bags and go to the gate and wait for the school bus. No fighting and don’t move until the bus arrives. Understood?” Helena shouted to her students who were more than eager to go home
“Yes, teacher!!;” they all chorused and ran out except Fiona who was still packing her books into her bag. She lifted her head to find her teacher standing in front of her.
“Hurry up Fiona. The bus will arrive soon”.
” Fiona? Hey!! Fiona. I’m talking to you” Helena repeated. She was staring at her teacher who was continuously speaking, telling her to hurry up and all she could hear was her father’s scolding from last night. She had gone to bed last night without eating anything and at school today, she hadn’t touched her lunch box either.
She was feeling weak and famished. Her head was beginning to spin, her vision blurring by the second. The image of her teacher standing before her faded out and she blacked out falling to the ground.
“Fiona!!!” Helena screamed rushing to her side, sprinkling water on her face but to no avail. With trembling hands, she gathered the girl in her arms and rushed out of the classroom towards the proprietor’s office, made her aware of the situation so she could inform Fiona’s parents before heading out to get a cab……
“Hello?” Madam Elsa, the school’s proprietress dialed Arnold’s number while she followed Helena into the cab as they headed to the hospital …..
TO BE CONTINUED….