"Adopted!" I fought hard against this word, willing it to stay in the inner recesses of my mind - not to come out. In vain. It bubbled up like a repressed emotion into my consciousness and leaked out as tears, as I gazed at my daughter looking at me with bloodshot eyes, seething in anger.
"Don't expect to tell me what's good Papa. You have lost it." Summary of a long planned father-daughter conversation.
I didn't recognize the young woman in front of me any more. True the face was the face I loved more than any in the world. One that to me represented love itself. My daughter, my angel, my pride. I knew every expression that face had ever had - of happiness, of dejection, of elation, of concentration, of fatigue and of victory. Of the carefreeness of sleeping with head on father's lap. My daughter, my angel, my pride.
My wife chided me of pampering her to the extent of spoiling her. But I knew that she knew that my little angel was my reason to live, as she was my wife's. It was the will of the Almighty which brought her into our lives on a rainy night, alone and abandoned. A night to be thankful for the miracle that it had brought to our lives but to be never dwelled upon. The only time the episode was mentioned was shortly after our angel's 18th birthday, when my wife declared the our daughter had the right to now.
For a week she cried and didn't come out of her room, until late one night she came and held her Dad's hand and pleaded - "Papa, please tell me it isn't so".
"Ma, you are my angel daughter and Lord has willed it. Does anything else matter. Your mom and I live only for you. Don't you see that?"
Over a period of time she did. Only person that knew outside the family was her best friend Anirudh. Anirudh, we felt helped her come to terms with the truth. Gave her the strength. A few time we spied him hold her hand and pretended we didn't see. Secretly we hoped they would marry someday.
My angel made it to AIIMS with her natural elan. Father's daughter I declared to all that would hear. Though as my wife pointed out, as a Chemistry professor at a Govt college I was nothing like a doctor, but who cared, the pride I felt as a father eclipsed anything that I could have achieved myself. Anirudh went to NIT Thrichy for a BE in Electronics. We could see that distance took a toll on the friendship and mention of Anirudh in her daily conversations with her mom reduced until it disappeared altogether. Anirudh who made it a point to visit home in his breaks for college even when our angel was away at the start of the course, slowly stopped coming.
Providence however had something else in mind and Anirudh got a job in Delhi or perhaps took it knowingly. Destiny brought them professionally together as Anirudh's company partnered with AIIMS on the use of nanotechnology in medical science, a field so advanced that its promise bordered science fiction.
My long domestic partnership however had started to fade. My wife was diagnosed with a malady of bone marrow that was was eating her away from inside. I knew that God had given me forty years with the sweetest woman and it was his will that my wife should go back to Him. My years of practice of spirituality did nothing to console me though. My daughter had ensured the best doctors in the field saw her mom. The answer was always the same - this was terminal.
She could perhaps live for a few months longer if her bone marrow was replaced immediately.
That night was the first time daughter and father had a row.
I insisted, with all insistence that I could muster in my sadness, that we did the replacement next morning. My wife and I shared blood groups so I could easily donate mine. Instead of agreeing and saying that she also would donate, (she also by a quirk of fate had the same group B+ as me and my wife), she just said "No".
"No!! NO?! What on earth are you saying." I raged.
"I mean Anirudh and I can cure her with the work we are doing Papa. Trust me"
"Angel, she is not your experiment. She is your mom, she is your mom..."
"And that is precisely why I want to save her Papa"
"Have you done it before"
"No, but trust me"
"What?! You wish to deny me the last few months together for you stupid experiment. Can you be any more thoughtless my angel? When you are at it, why don't you do some of your brainy experiments on Dad too. Maybe they will give you an award." I said bitterly, in a tone that I had never dreamt I would ever use with my daughter.
That's when the thought that had never surfaced before assailed me. Would she
be so ready to experiment if she was our own? Immediately I hated myself but the thought lurked as I got the biggest shouting from my daughter.
Finally it was my wife who settled this by siding with her daughter. By then words had failed me and I stormed out.
One week later, Miracle visited us again. I was waiting with the rest of my family for 5 hours outside the OT when suddenly my daughter ran out and put her arms around my neck and said - "Papa, the procedure was successful, the bots are doing their job. Mom's going to be fine".
So it came to pass that one year later as me and my wife were settling down for dinner that our landline rang - we knew only she called on landline. As my wife put on the speaker in the phone our angel screamed - "Papa, Ma. Nur research has been blessed by Ministry of Health. We can offer it to everyone that needs it. Next month we are presenting our findings at Geneva." After a pause she added, "I think I should marry Anirudh, he helped me save my Mom. Love you, will call later." And the line went dead.
For a moment we didn't know what to do, numbly my wife and I looked at each other. Slowly we hugged and we cried. We laughed like children and We prayed. God had truly sent us a little miracle that rainy night.
I picked up one of the numerous picture frames of her that we had all over the house and kissed her forehead. My daugher, my angel, my pride.