Gulping down the coffee, Jude picked up his office bag and rushed out. His wife called out behind him to finish the breakfast, he yelled back that he is already late for the meeting, as he slung his coat over his shoulder and hurried of the house.
The business meeting that Jude was catching up that morning was very important for his career. He knew that he had the expertise to get the deal struck with this client and his promotion and professional elevation depended upon it. He could not afford to miss the meeting at any cost which would have meant disastrous for his vocation.
Sheryl came running down the stairs, jumping two steps at a time screaming at the top of her lungs for him to wait but as she reached the door, she could only hear the sound of the car speeding away. He had already gone by the time she reached the gate and she just kept staring trying to at least get a glimpse of him.
As Sheryl turned back dejected and walked inside the house, her mother put her arms around her shoulder and took her inside. Trying to hide her sadness, Sheryl smiled at her mom and said, “Dad left without giving me a kiss”. Her mom caressed her hair and said, “Dad had an urgent meeting, so he had to rush, my child”.
Sheryl had to get ready for school but she was feeling really dejected. Her dad had never left home for work in the morning without hugging her and that used to keep her happy for the whole day till she would see him come back from work late in the evening. She picked up the phone and dialled a number.
Jude was engrossed in his mind going through the topics that he had to present for the meeting very shortly and was suddenly startled by the sound of his phone ringing. Lowering down the music, he picked up the phone and answered the call from home expecting it to be his wife on the line.
“Dad, you forgot to give me a goodbye kiss”, it was his daughter Sheryl on the call. In her accusing expression, Jude could sense her voice trembling under the weight of her hurt.
Jude realised that it was in the hurry that he had forgotten what he would do every morning. “I am really sorry, sweetheart”, he replied, his voice trying to be as contrite as he really was. There was a silence for a few minutes at the other end and he knew that his little child was really very upset.
He called out again and then she replied “It’s Okay, Dad”, trying to sound all grown up. “I was in a hurry my princess, was getting late for an important meeting”, he was trying to justify, but she had cut the call before he could complete his validation.
Jude waited for a few minutes and then dialled back the home number. His wife answered the call and he told her about it. “That’s fine, she will understand, you take care of your meeting”, she replied. “She is already getting ready for school”, his wife added.
Sheryl dressed up for school and came down for breakfast as her mom was packing up her tiffin box. She morosely gulped down her favourite breakfast that was laid down on the table and then wore her shoes.
Bidding her mom goodbye, with her shoulders slumped; Sheryl picked up her school bag and started to walk out of the door.
As she reached the door, she heard the sound of a car gliding to a stop outside the gate. She could make out the sound of her Dad’s car from a distance and instantly knew it was him.
Sheryl rushed to the gate as she saw her Dad getting out of the car. She dropped her school bag and ran towards him, her face gleaming with joy and lit up in luminous pleasure and happiness.
“I am sorry, I forgot, my little angel”, Jude said, lifting her up and hugging her tightly. She said nothing, and just sat there embracing him tightly with both her arms.
Jude picked up the school bag, still carrying her in his arms and walked towards the school bus waiting at the gate. As he planted a kiss on her cheek, dropping her inside the bus, he could see nothing but the million dollar smile on his daughter’s face.
As the bus sped away, and all her friends cheering up and waving at the passers-by all the way to the school, as they always do, Sheryl was still smiling, though her jaws ached.
“She was so happy to see you, I am glad you came back”, his wife mentioned as Jude was about to get back into his car.
He turned back, patted his wife’s head and replied, “Twenty years from today, no one would even remember that I was late for a meeting. My little daughter would be grown up by then, but she would not forget that her father drove all the way back home just to kiss her goodbye”.