Have You Ever Seen the Rain? - Part 2

Had it not been her eyes, I would have mistaken her as an atrocious creature and would have gleefully reported to the zoo that I had discovered a new species of animal. Apart from the eyes, all the remaining parts on her face were hell-sent. Yellow teeth with three of four missing at the front, her skin - you've got to see those saggy skins - her crooked nose, messy with hair and - oh my god. It's just beyond my vocabularies to describe her.

Apart from her eyes.

You know that people say, you can play with your words, but eyes will betray you the moment you bluff the truth. This kind of thing that people say about such mojo that human eyes possess makes me a person who would judge people from the way they look at me - is it straight in the eyes, or a little bit to the corner, evading my gaze - and this theory has never failed me up to this moment I write this story down. And that day was no exception.

The way she looked at me when I leveled her gaze, was what I suppose started it all. She slowly rose to her feet with a little difficulty, and sat at the other end of the bus stop. The dress that she was wearing was more like a rice sack rather than anything. The rain was showing no signed of being consoled just yet, and kept pouring tears down to the now flooded ground.I was glad the bus stop was built a bit higher from the ground. At least, the sneaker I was wearing wouldn't be wet. And it must have been during this time when I was examining my sneakers that she finally spoke.

'Nice little shoes you've got there', she said, through that horse but low-pitched voice.

I was not in the mood of conversing, and the fact that that person who was talking to me was a woman of such degree, further compounding my mood. I pretended deaf. But when she repeated this sentence again, I looked at her and noticed that she was bare-feet. I threw a faint smile at her.

'I used to have them shoes', she said. She paused for a moment, perhaps scrutinizing my expression - was I sneering at this remark at that time? - before she went on 'Not for me but for my daughter. I have a daughter, you know. Beautiful girl, Hanna', then she smiled, more to herself, as if she was reminiscing a happy memory. But at that point, I couldn't see where that conversation would be going. So I just let her be, because that is what senile people do, isn't it? Talking to people as if people could care more. But nothing is stopping them. They just love to talk. So at that time I thought it was definitely one of these occasions. So like I said, I just let her be.

But when I was about to continue reading the novel I was holding, then it occurred to me what she had mentioned earlier. 'I have a daughter you know'. What caught my attention was the tense she used while saying these words. Instead of using "Had", I noticed she had uttered "Have". Then I started to feel like digging more. What I mean is, if she had a daughter at that time, then what the heck was she doing there looking all rugged and stuff?

'You mean you had a daughter', I heard myself saying.

'No. I have a daughter, Hanna'.

'Then why are you here? Sorry if I sounded rude, but I mean, if you have a daughter, where is she? Aren't you supposed to be with her rather than, you know'.

'Because she has got her own life to mind'.

'But it doesn't mean that she has got to discard you'.

'Well, she did take care of me'. Now I heard that past tense.

'Why not now'?

At this point, she looked at me straight in the eyes. Instead of sensing trouble ahead, I knew that things were going to get better. For what reason I couldn't tell.

'Children leave their parents for so many reasons, child. For so many valid reasons, they say. If they don't have any, they would come up with one that is valid enough to send you away'.

'You mean, your daughter has got a valid reason?'.

'At least that was what she thought. Hanna is a sweet girl, honey. She is my only child. She must be 33-year old by now. All grown up and mature. But previously, she had never seen her father. And she kept asking me where daddy was, but I couldn't answer her. So, two years back, when I was living in Hanna's apartment, she burst through the front door and and called me a hooker and cursed me under the sun. She said she had known the reason why she had never seen her father for all this while. Because I was a hooker and I had slept with so many men I didn't know which was which'.

At that point, I put down the novel on my lap. The rain was still pouring heavily and since I was sitting at the far end, the raindrops trickling down the edge of the roof got me all wet. So I moved to the centre of the bus stop, very much closer to her.

'You see I was in love with this guy named Greg, when I was a very young feisty lass like you are today. And I got pregnant when I was still a 17-year old girl. Do you suppose my family would let me in? No, they shut the door at my face So I had to get on my own feet. I moved to a little town where nobody knew me and I gave birth to Hanna'.

'How about Greg? Did he come with you?'.

'No, he didn't. So naturally I had to be both mum and dad to Hanna. I did everything I could, honey, to earn a living for both of us. When I first knew that I was pregnant, I once contemplated to get rid of her, but I realized it wasn't for me to decide life and death. So I let it be and and she grew a little bit bigger everyday. I worked round the clock just to ensure that she got everything like every normal kid did. Oh I remember the day I first sent her in a kindergarten, she had this big sulky face. When I was about to leave her for work, she started crying because she knew absolutely no one in the kindergarten so I stayed in for the rest of the day. The next day I came to work, Mr Henry told me off and said that his shop wasn't a hotel where I could just come and go as I wished. But I wasn't sad I got fired. I was happy because Hanna wasn't crying on her first day at school, the day I stayed in'.

The moment she finished this sentence, I saw a bus coming ahead. I could just stop the bus and leave, but I decided to stay and listen for the remaining of her story. So I asked:

'You did a good job to raise her, not to mention all by yourself. Then why would she want to know who her father was? Couldn't she just let it go? I mean, you know, like, she's got you, right? Why would she want to know her father who had never been there for her all her life?'.

'Because she wanted her father to give her away during her wedding day. Would you believe that my baby Hanna who was once so little, fragile and smelly, crying in the middle of the night asking for milk, the one that I stayed up for when she got sick, finally was about to get married? She loved Kevin so much, honey. She didn't even remember my birthday, but she never failed to celebrate Kevin's birthday every year. That was how much she loved that guy. She wanted to be beautiful in her wedding dress, looking as normal people did. And part of this normality in her eyes was to have her real father to properly give her away on her wedding day. So you can imagine her disappointment when she couldn't fulfill this big part of normality. She never saw me as the same person ever since'.

'What do you mean?'.

'I thought after the wedding, her disappointment would be overshadowed by her blissful marriage. Turned out I was wrong. Hanna said she couldn't bear the insults and snide remarks she had been hearing after the wedding. Isn't that funny, child? You know when I first carried Hanna around to the public, there was no corner I could turn to without me being followed by a scandalous look. There was one day I went to this grocery shop next to our rented house back then. But the lady chased me out because she said I had an illegitimate child with me and I shouldn't stain the place she was providing food for her legitimate children. Hanna was a little girl she did not get what was happening. All she was seeing was a candy and she kept pointing at it even after the lady had chased us out from the shop. But I persuaded Hanna that I would buy her a bigger candy which I did and she smiled for the rest of the day. What is an insult to a mother when she could see that smile from her child? But children can never understand that.'

There was a lump in my throat when I heard this. I searched her face, and later her eyes. So that was what I had seen the first time I leveled my eyes to her gaze. A look of pure love and sacrifice reflected in them. Eyes do not get sorer as we grow older, but they get brighter, like a twinkling star. It was getting colder, and every now and again, I could hear a lightening and thunder spearing down from the sky. So I asked her what I thought would be the last question before I headed back to wherever I was supposed to be.

'Then if she wanted to know who her real father was, why didn't you just let her meet Greg?'

She replied with a wry smile.

'Because Greg wasn't her father'.

-to be continued-

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