The world around me was spinning with the speed I had never experienced before. I could hardly see a thing, for my eyes,welled up with tears of the secret just revealed. I was on the terrace ready to take a leap, I did not know the difference between right and wrong. But I just stood there staring down, events of the day flashing in front of my glistening eyes.

It had all started with the photograph, the one with a light complexioned beautiful baby. I was wheatish in complexion unlike my family and was always condemned as though I had decided in my mother’s womb how I would be. Without knowing who the baby was, and how was I related to her, I wondered how beautiful a lady that baby would turn out to be.

My chain of thoughts broke by the sparrow chirping on the terrace. Looked like the sparrow wanted me to come down and not jump. But I turned a deaf ear to it and started recollecting what happened three hours back from a beautiful dream to a dreadful reality. 
The lazy summer holidays had begun .

“Let us refresh our memories by looking at the photograph albums.” said my brother. He called out to mother as he bought in the cold drinks to soothe the heat.
I am excited, I want to ask mom about that photograph which she hid from us last time we were seeing the albums. True, curiosity could kill you.!. But I realized it later.
Photo albums,spread across the room. I was going through a new album and saw the baby, a woman and my dad in that picture. 
“Who are the lady and the baby in this photo?” I asked. I could see mother getting tensed and she replied, “I don’t know, dear.” When I insisted she got angry and left the room.

That wasn’t my mother. I felt guilty and weird, so I followed her. To my awe, I saw my mother with the nerves of steel broken like an injured bird. For the first time in 19 years of my existence I had seen her weep.
“It is time I tell you both the truth.” she said. Wiping her tears that were trickling down. She said, “There is something that I had intended to tell you kids once you were grown up enough to understand the truth.” The atmosphere in our house was like that of Hindi serials in a climax with the background music and a twist that seems practically impossible.

Less had I known, that the secrets that were to be revealed was like a daily soap, and that I was about to realize that every family has a dark secret….

My heart, slamming against my rib cage, my fingertips moist, and my mom just ignored and continued, “Your dad feels there is no need for you to know, he fears he would lose you. On the contrary, the truth will bind us much more closely. Well the lady you see there in the photo is…”

Ting tong ting tong screeched the door bell. My mother ran hurriedly to the door.

“Ugh! Who the hell is it now!?!” I asked impatiently.

“It’s the neighbor, honey. She is almost in tears. I will talk to her and get back.” Mother shouted.

My brother, back to his photo seeing session as if nothing had happened. I wondered whether he understood the seriousness of the situation, but yet I was angry, frustrated at him for looking at the god-forsaken photos which may lose its shine after what mom was going to reveal. I was aggravated at the neighbor for getting into trouble right now. Annoyed, that dad was in that photograph and enraged that mom did not finish, instead ran to help the good-for-nothing neighbor, I waited for mom to come back and complete.

I could hear my neighbor sobbing and mom consoling. This melodrama went for over an hour and then my mom came in and told us that the neighbor’s husband staying out of station was unwell. So she would be going with the neighbor to the hospital. She told she will be leaving in an hour. Then she left the room, to cook for us.
I went into the kitchen and shouted,”Mom!! drop the cooking and tell me all about the photo!”

Mom,now back to her steel-cold manner told me to wait for few more minutes.

I waited for five minutes and then came mom, each minute I waited for the truth to be revealed , it seemed like hours.

Mom pointed to the photo and said,”The lady is your dad’s first wife and the baby is your half-sister. Your dad’s first wife just left your dad and demanded for a divorce and your sister’s custody, which your dad gave and they have never met ever since.”

I waited for her to continue, but she just stared down at me blankly. I felt my skin turn red, warming up, flushing from inside. Starting from my cheeks, forehead, ears and then it crept outward, blinking away my tears.

I said, “Mom,why did she ask for a divorce? If she asked there must be some reason. Whatever the reason was, mom, why would you do such a thing as marrying dad?”

Mom said, ” Hush! you young lady! Remember, he is your father? Not a word against him. 
Honey, always remember,when you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are. I tried to give a new lease of life to your father, baby. Everybody deserves a second chance, so does your dad. Look at us, we are a happy family, dad has given everything to us. Your brother is small, but you as a grown up, I expect you to understand. At least try to. Wont you?”

I looked up at her,unsure of what to say.
After a moment,
“Hmm… ” was all i could say.
Mom was off with the neighbor and my brother in the hall, busy with his video games.

I went up to the terrace to take in the exuberance of the summer. But the summer evening could not help me much at the moment. Only the cliff of the terrace seemed attractive. I stood on the cliff for almost an hour, the summer was taking me in.
Shifting my legs here and there to avoid the falling from the terrace and yet standing on the cliff with the urge to fall down, my adrenalin pumping,yet allowing me to think. I looked at the sky flecked with rosy clouds, In the air the odor of flowers and the sounds of lamentation.

It was that wonderful moment when, for lack of a visible horizon, the not yet darkened the world seems infinitely greater—a moment when anything could happen, anything be believed in. 

I realized the greatness of my parents and forgave my father, when mom could do that why not me? When dad could stay away from my step-sister for us, then why not give all the happiness he deserved? Why not give him a second chance? 

From that day on I never had the urge to stand on that cliff, for I had learnt to forgive and forget.


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