Two Fathers

It was decided, in consultation with Marian, the girls’ mum, that I would go and pick them up and bring them back for the day out with their dad, Simran. The girls were in fine spirits and chatted throughout the journey. As we alighted from the train, they gave Simran their cards. They were excited, but I heard no noise or any real enthusiasm from Simran. He was not in control of anything, there was no life in him and I soon realised that it was down to me again. I had further support from George. Calvin was with us too, although he was kept busy all day by his son.

After lunch, there was the sense that Simran was trying to do his duty, rather than enjoy the time with his sons, relax and have some fun. I became more involved with Calvin’s son, helping to pick him off the floor a few times. It was difficult to take much in from the exhibition because I was on duty and there was so much going on with the kids. At the end of the afternoon we all walked back to the train station. When we parted from Calvin I gave his son a hug and said ‘See you soon’. He responded by saying ‘See you soon’, which was a wonderful moment. It not only touched me, but Calvin’s face lit up too.

The boys said goodbye to everyone and the three of us boarded the train. As we sat down to enjoy the journey, Simran’s younger son realised we had forgotten his asthma bag (Simran had been carrying it!) He started crying, thinking he might be told off by his mum. My first thought was that I hope his anxiety does not induce an asthma attack. I remained calm, cuddled her and reassured him that everything was okay; that it was my fault and that George will know to catch the next train and follow us with the bag. He was very upset but I was able to think clearly and remain calm. A mistake had been made and my attention was on sorting it out.

At the station, as we waited for Marian to collect the boys, I phoned Simran from the payphone. He didn’t answer his phone and I was furious, but could not shout my message as I would have liked because I had his sons right next to me. I told him clearly that this was a fuck-up and that he should make sure George was on the next train if he hadn’t already left. George did not arrive on the next train, and as soon as the elder son saw her mum he said, ‘Mummy, it’s so nice to see you again’, as if her ordeal was finally over. I gave the boys a hug – the younger one was crying again – and told Marian I’ll ring her when I know where George is.

I felt calm, in control of the situation and without a hint of self bashing. While I waited for George, I checked in with Karaj. He said ‘These things happen, don’t worry about it.’ Four months ago I would have worried but things are different now. It was a good call to Karaj. I told him that although I was calm, I was also livid. He asked me why and I couldn’t answer fully except to say that Simran was the cause of my anger. I have no problem spending time with the girls, but not with Simran around. He is a liability; no presence, no conviction, no responsibility, no enthusiasm, no energy, no commitment, no relationship with his world. I felt dirty and abused.

I am not annoyed with myself at all. I am not sure I am even annoyed with Simran either. Something has happened which has its significance for me and I am not sure what it is all about. I have never felt this calmly serious about anything before. It could be shock, I suppose. Or maybe Simran is a reflection of my own father. I have talked to people about it (George, Karaj and Dev) and I am happy that I have done all I could. Relaxed, I go to bed.

Spending time with Calvin and his son has helped me get closer to them both, and I leave the day with this thought: Here are two fathers; Calvin would give anything to be able to relate to his son, and there is Simran with two lovely boys who are both so chatty and joyful, and he cannot relate to them at all.

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