Dreams Can Wait..!

DREAMS CAN WAIT by Robert Clements
(Published in the Indian Express Newspaper, 16th Feb, 1996)

Today on her birthday I remember this article fondly…..

The tall beautiful twelve year old girl waved her “dandiya’ stick at me and smiled. I looked at her, my grown-up daughter and my mind went back to a young, impatient man, that I was, standing outside the doors of the maternity ward. The stillness of the night was suddenly broken by the sound of a scream. “An alley cat,” I thought and looked over the banister to the street below and didn’t notice the young nurse at my elbow.
“A girl, sir,” she said and disappeared back into the confines of the unknown room.
“A girl,” I said and my heart beat faster in ecstasy. “My dream girl, My daughter.” I drove my old scooter through the still busy streets of Bombay and found an old Irani restaurant, crowded though midnight had come and gone. I sat at an empty table and sipped a cup of tea trying to share my happiness with all around.
“One day,” I said, “she’ll be eighteen and we’ll come back over here and we’ll share a cup of tea together.”
“Don’t let her head slip,” snapped my wife as I tried to hold my new –born in my arms. “ You’ll make her cry now,” said my mother-in-law as she tried to take my own from my hands. I clutched the little bundle and looked down at the tightly-closed eyes. There was not a whimper, there was just a suggestion of a smile, her eyes closed a little tighter and I held on tight.
“When you are eighteen,” I said silently to her, “we’ll be great friends together.” She knew my touch, she neither cried nor moved, but I had spoken to her little head, I gave her back to her mother. She would grow up for me.
“Varuna,” said my wife. “A lovely name,” I thought and watched the priest bless her with the same. She sat cradled in my arms, chubby and pretty and full of vocal energy. “A noisy child,” said my mother,” but so quiet in her father’s arms.”
“She’s mine,” I thought, “and one day we’ll sit together and talk, like two adults.” A dream, a fantasy, a far-away scene that was so close to my heart.
The school down the road seemed like a concentration camp. I watched as she was led away by the teacher and felt deep pangs of guilt. Abandoning my little girl in the hands of strangers was not something I was happy about. The two hours that she was in there spelt a deep agony for me as I stood outside. I watched as the next day and the next she was led off to that unknown place where I could not enter.
“She’s growing,” I said, “and soon she’ll be a big girl. We’ll be friends, more than a father and daughter.” My dream was slowly taking shape.
The tall, beautiful girl waved her ‘dandiya’ stick at me and smiled. “How did the years go by,” I wondered. “And why so fast?” I watched as she gracefully did the dance. Her steps were light and her movements graceful. I thought of the little scream as she came into the world. I thought of her little self in my arms. My mind wandered back to her first days in school and I smiled back at her.
“She’s grown,” I thought, “and will soon sit across the table and talk to me, a grown-up woman.”
I watched her step into the light, her eyes bright and shining, my daughter tall and beautiful, “Dreams can wait,” I said slowly to myself, “Grow up slowly, my little twelve-year-old. Dreams can wait..!”


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1 thought on “Dreams Can Wait..!”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story,Bobby.I giggled at the simile you used of her first cry with your imagination of a cat’s cry,your looking down into the alley for it, in such deep concentration that you didn’t realize the nurse was at your elbow.

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