Sitting at the evening beach, Vipin and his son, Rippen, are enjoying a live music performance by sea waves at the shore. While the breeze brushes against their skin, which ruthlessly demarks their age difference, their fingers play in circles on the bore of their beer bottles. The moon has just begun enticing the waves towards itself and this father-son duo is gazing at the hues of the horizon. Pensive mood and memories of the growing years – this is how it has been their idea of celebrating Rippen’s birthday for the past few years.
But this wasn’t a usual year. Rippen is due moving to San Francisco in three weeks for good. This might be the last birthday ritual until long. And, for the both of them, this feeling doesn’t sink in as easily as the evening Sun sinks in the horizon.
As the light fails their vision of the sea, Vipin initiates a conversation. Like most of us, he chooses small talk to begin with and the most obvious of the questions.
Vipin: So, all sorted for San Francisco?
Rippen gives a why’s-dad-asking-me-this look.
Rippen: We’ve been friends, I know. But don’t keep my dad in the hindsight. We did all the arrangements together for my move to The City.
Vipin feebly laughs while Rippen continues.
Rippen: Now tell me, what is it that you actually wanna talk about.
Vipin: Hahaha… I like how you’ve already picked up The City slang.
Rippen: Put it out dad, whatever’s hanging there on your epiglottis. Just say it!
Vipin: Hmmm… You, think you know me pretty well no?
Rippen: I don’t think that, dad. I know you well enough to judge you.
Vipin: Hah! It’s funny how you assume things.
Vipin: Rippen, no matter how close you are to someone, everyone has secrets known to most parts of only themselves.
Rippen: Quit beating around the bush! I am curious already.
Vipin closes his eyes as if mustering some courage from the darkness beneath his eyelids, takes a deep breath and the turbulence in his head got the better of him.
Vipin: OK! So here’s the deal.
Rippen, I’ve been sleeping with someone other than your mom too.
Rippen: Ok… and?
Vipin: Listen, son, I know this wouldn’t be easy for you, but…
Rippen: Who is she, dad? Do I know her? Is she prettier than mom? What is it…Speak up! And why are you telling this to me now?
Vipin: Your reaction is justified Rippen.
Rippen: This isn’t the response to my question dad.
Vipin: It’s not a ‘she’ Rippen!
Rippen: What the!… Dad… But… I mean how? Do you even know what you’re saying?
Vipin: Ok, Rippen, relax, we’ll talk about this.
Rippen: No, no, no… sorry… We’re not talking about this nonsense. We’re friends and all that bullshit is over. I don’t accept this from my dad!
Vipin who has been listening to Rippen, tries to interrupt and make his understand. But Rippen would just not stop.
Vipin: At least listen to me!
Rippen: Dad seriously what are you even saying? My dad can’t be… oh God! I can’t even say it. And mom? Does she know this? Crap, what am I gonna say to her? And even if you were dad, why did you have to tell me? Oh God! You’ve made our relationship sour dad! I don’t know… How can you be…? Wait! Is this the reason I am your only child?
Vipin, who has been observing Rippen and trying to control… starts laughing uncontrollably.
Vipin: Oh my poor son!
Rippen is perplexed.
Rippen: What’s with the laugh? After spilling the beans of your sin, clearly at the wrong time…you think this is funny? What is it dad?
Vipin: Hahaha… Oh God! I’ll die of this laughter… hahaha!!
Rippen: Tell me, or I am leaving!
Vipin: OK, OK! I am telling you. Lemme catch some breath. Oh…
Rippen waits with a straight face.
Vipin: I am not what you’re thinking, I did not sleep with anyone either. She or… hahahaha – Sorry I just recalled your reaction… Hahaha.
Rippen: Are you high or are you high?
Vipin: It was just a prank my old-age brain thought of pulling on you. You should have seen your face… why didn’t I record it.
Rippen: What the hell dad. You got my nerves burning! Please don’t do that again.
Vipin: C’mon now Son! You’re moving to The City. You’re moving to San Francisco – The gay capital of the world. Sure you can cut ‘those’ people some slack!
Rippen: Just because it’s the Gay capital of world, you cracked such a prank on me?
Vipin: And you got caught in a stupid prank.
Rippen starts getting up.
Rippen: Yeah whatever… You’ve got me freaked out enough for one time, I am gonna grab some more expensive beer now. That’s the price you pay for your prank.
Rippen leaves Vipin downs his remaining beer in one go, gazes at the sea, thinking…
“I knew you didn’t know me, son. I knew, you’d freak out and may have even abandoned me had I not stopped. I am your father, I know you since the time you could smoothly fit the length of my palm. I knew you faked my signatures in your school test. I knew it from the beginning how special you were to me. You’ve always been the fulcrum of my life, Rippen.
I am insecure, my dear son. You’re leaving. And this insecurity got me to the point where I handpicked you to be the first person who must know that I am gay. Maybe I can explain my sexuality to you, but not the circumstances I married your mother.
I knew it always that I would accept you no matter how grave a mistake you’d commit. You are sill the core of my heart, even when you don’t wanna accept me.
I know you and still chose to tell you, because there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t know it. May be now my sexuality is a prank to you, but for your father, it is the biggest truth and the biggest lie of his life.”
Just then Rippen arrives.
Rippen: Here dad, more expensive beer. Haha…
Vipin: It’s ok son, I am ready to pay the price.