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How I Met Your Father: A Love Story… But Not Quite

Little Carl came home from school and looked upset. He wasn’t his usual chirpy self. I sensed that something was not right. I tried to cajole him and tickled him on his tummy until he began giggling and pleading with me to stop. He said he was hungry, so I began making him an evening snack and he stood beside me in the kitchen.

It was our daily routine; he’d come home hungry from school and I’d make him a sandwich or some other snack. We’d talk about school and his friends and then he’d run out to play until I prepared his supper and tucked him in bed soon afterwards. I had to then rush to work for my second shift, leaving the nanny to keep an eye on him.

mother and son_New_Love_Times

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I knew something was up, but I was scared to ask him. I had been a little worried ever since his sixth birthday last December, when he started asking me those questions. I knew that day would come and I had to be prepared. But I wasn’t. I was anything but prepared.

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“Mom, where’s dad?” he asked in a very innocent voice. I wasn’t surprised, I knew this was coming.

“In heaven, baby,” I said, without looking at him. I hoped he stopped there, but he didn’t.

“How did dad go there?” he asked again.

“When people die, they go to heaven. Daddy died before you were born,” I said, looking at him now and again hoping he wouldn’t ask any further questions.

But, that’s the problem with little kids, they never stop. That’s why it’s important to give them crisp and easy to understand answers. Then he dropped the bomb.

“How did you meet daddy?” he asked with curiosity in his eyes. I couldn’t avoid his question this time, and had to give him a substantial explanation of how we met, how he died, and other related answers. I was fumbling for words, but had my story rehearsed a few weeks back.

I composed myself, making it look like it wasn’t a big deal. He shouldn’t sense it in my voice, and I must not break down. So I began.

mother and son_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

“I had finished school and joined work at a downtown library. That’s where I met your dad. He would come there often, to read and borrow books. That’s how we met, fell in love, got married, and then you were born. When you were still in my tummy, daddy met with a tragic accident and died.”

When I had finished telling him the story, I saw sadness in Carl’s eyes. But he was happy to know ‘the story,’ he told me. He ate his sandwich in silence, probably thinking about his father, and then went out to play.

As he left, I began thinking of that time when I worked at the library. The scenes started playing in my mind. One by one.

I was young, naive, and gullible. That was my first job, and I took it very seriously. Carl’s father was a regular at the library. He’d come in there almost every day. He’d pick up a book from the shelf and find a comfortable spot to sit and read. He’d never look up until he had finished reading. I would observe him from behind the counter and notice that he’d spend the whole day in the library and finish the book in one go. He’d take two days for thicker volumes. I tried to make conversation with him, but he’d simply cut it short and leave. Slowly, he began reciprocating my advances and asked me out for coffee. I went without a second thought.

It was the most beautiful sunny afternoon. The skies were bright and we sipped coffee and had a great conversation about so many things. I learnt that he wasn’t from the city and had come there in search of work but couldn’t find anything. So, between applying for jobs and interviews, he spent a lot of time in the library. He loved reading, he told me.

couple on a date_New_Love_Times

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Soon, he got a job in advertising and his visits to the library lessened, although we still met for coffee occasionally. One day, we had dinner together, and something clicked. We knew instantly that we liked each other, a lot. After almost a year of courting, he asked me to marry him. I did, and we were happy. When I got pregnant, I quit my job and he took care of me. And on one fateful day, as he was coming back home from work, he met with an accident and was killed on the spot. My whole world had come crashing down.

As I thought about that story, it sent shivers down my spine because how I wished it were true! But in reality, it wasn’t. I wish I could tell Carl proudly that that’s how I met your father. But it wasn’t how I met his father. It was the story I had decided to tell Carl, and a story I had to stick to for as long as I was alive.

Now I began thinking of how I had actually met his father. The memories came to my mind like water gushing out from a waterfall. The truth was harsh, it made me sad and I often cried thinking about it. I cried thinking about the past, about Carl’s father, and how I had gotten where I was.

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I hadn’t finished school because poverty had forced me to drop out of school early and into doing things that were against my wishes. I had an ailing mother, a greedy drunkard for a father, and a younger sister. Amidst the unemployment in my house and the lack of food, I was forced into selling myself.

woman walking_New_Love_Times

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Yes, I was a sex worker at 16.

So young, so naive, and gullible. I was ashamed of myself initially, but the money that it gave me made me repeat it. Day in and day out, I had several men come over and I’d simply lie there thinking of what bill this man would help me pay. There were men of all ages – some as old as my own father! It didn’t bother me though. Very few were nice to me, most of them were like hungry animals. They came and pounced on me. The truth is, no one cared how a hooker felt, if she liked it or not. If she wanted to do it or not.

So the men did whatever they liked. They even got away with all the abuse. One man burnt me with a cigarette butt, and I had often been slapped so hard that my face would swell and turn black for days.

Amongst these monsters was a man who frequented quite regularly. He was comparatively nicer to me than the others. There was something about him that I couldn’t put my finger on, that drew me toward him. He hardly spoke about himself, nothing more than basic communication.

Over a period of time, he’d come in almost every day. I knew he wasn’t in love with me, because one can never fall in love with a hooker. That happens only in Hollywood movies. But I think I started liking him. He’d come regularly for days and then disappear, just like that. It went on for a few months, until he stopped coming altogether. I knew nothing about him, just his first name, if even that was his real one. I tried looking for him, but in vain. A month later, I learnt that I was pregnant. I wasn’t shocked; I knew it had to be him because we hadn’t worn protection that one time. That made me quit what I was doing, once and for all.

pregnant woman_New_Love_Times

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My parents were angry because the income had stopped, but I knew I was making the right choice. I wanted out of that life, and this was the right time. I decided to keep the baby. And I began looking for him, the man I thought I was in love with. I wanted to meet him one last time and tell him that I was pregnant. Obviously, I didn’t expect him to support me, but I just wanted to let him know. So I started searching for him; I looked him up on the Internet, but came up empty. When I finally gave up, it was almost time to deliver the baby. I just knew one thing about this man, his name. It was Carl. Could have been short for Carlin, or Carlton, or may be that wasn’t his name at all.

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With some savings, I managed to move out of my parents’ house and to another city. I gave birth to a little blue-eyed boy, and named him Carl. He was the best thing that had happened to me in a long time. I wish I could tell Carl, that this was how I met your father. But I didn’t have the courage to tell him that.

I wouldn’t in a hundred years tell him about my past life. A life I’ve been meaning to forget. The memories of those bad men haunt me from time to time, and sometimes, I’m uncertain of who Carl’s biological father is. It’s a pity. But I will never be able to tell him the truth. I will never be able to tell him how I met your father. Never. Not now, not ever.

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Article Name
How I Met Your Father: A Love Story With A Twist
Son, I would like to tell you how I met your father... my version of events...


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