one evening i was sitting in the bed. the evenings had caught some chill. my daughter too got into the bed and sat on my legs. she put her cold hands on my cheeks. it felt like soft, small ice cubes against my cheeks. i shivered and she gave a squeal of victory. she was four but had her ways to drive merry around. i held her hands in mine to warm them. i was blowing warm air into her little fragile fingers when she spoke:
“tell me a story”
“i dont know stories sweetheart. mum knows all”
that was always a perfect excuse to get away.
“you always say that. did no one tell you stories when you were small?”
“i am too big to remember my small. maybe they did. i forgot them”
she knew i was not telling her stories. so she pulled her hands from mine and put them on my cheeks again. this time they were warm. i smiled at her. she laughed. then she began pulling my cheeks and upon my resentment, she only moved them in small circles over my cheeks.
“daddy, what is the colour of your eyes?”
” emerald green” i heard myself say that instantaneously.
“who told you?”
“emerald green” there was a long pause on the other side of the line. i knew this made her nervous and equally speechless. like being swamped by reticent emotions. she couldn’t say anymore. it was only a silent explanation.
“when did you notice?”
“i didn’t stare at you. sometimes when i would look at you, i would find your eyes already over there”
i knew she couldn’t just look at me. i didn’t know why. she would say it makes her nervous. however i never had noticed my eyes so much to figure out the colour. it never occurred to me. i only came to know the colour when she mentioned it.
“no i think maybe you have been staring at me” i was only trying to make her anxious. i loved doing that to her.
“i wish i did. but i cannot”
“i cannot look into your eyes”
“and that is because?”
“because i fear maybe i wont be able to look away then. it feels like something grabs hold of my heart. i don’t feel my own self”
she again paused. and i smiled.
my daughter was waiting for my answer.
“ofcourse my dad did” i felt the coldness of my own lie touching my lips.
her mother came in and thank God she did for i was not present to answer any of her more questions. she asked her why she didn’t have the colour of my eyes. because she had taken after her mother who had black eyes. i pretended to sleep and somewhere past midnight i really did fell asleep.