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Sepia: Part I

Mohan is a family physician, film and TV aficionado, a keen bibliophile and an eclectic scribbler.

Now that it’s all over, David asked me to write it all down. I’ve never written anything like this, just years of assignments for medical school and a PhD thesis, all in dry prose, religiously referenced and formatted. I’ve never even attempted a diary as it always seemed like a childish activity other girls indulged in.

I was never one for cute cuddly toys or diary pages filled with doodles of hearts pierced with arrows. My mum always tried to dress me up encourage girlie play and was disappointed when I’d rather bury my head in a book. I was always the one girl clutching a paperback when I got taken to birthday parties while all others were playing in a cloud of pink and glitter. I hate glitter.

As I type this on this Sunday morning, the rain that was just a drizzle arrives in full force.

I lean back on the chair and stare at the window as little rivulets run down the glass, distorting the trees and the sky outside.

Rain on a window always makes me sad. Not your everyday, run of the mill melancholy but an iron fist that squeezes my gut and twists it in a deep pain. It’s no good that I live in London, I should move to the Sahara.

I am still in my tracksuit from the run. I should get up and have a shower but something about the rain makes me stay, pain or otherwise. I pick my mug of morning coffee and the aroma hits me and somewhat take the pain away.

I walk up to the window, press my face against the pane (I could almost hear my mum’s voice shouting ‘Don’t keep doing that Susie, you’ll leave noseprints on the glass’ ) and watch the leaves bow under the water droplets and little streams that eddy around the patio.

The sky is slate gray like someone had left the television on after all the programmes have finished. I look out into the yard as the water on the glass plays tricks with my mind and my memory. I could see my Dad standing out there, waving.


It all started on a rainy day like this one. Or should I say ended? Sometimes I get my beginnings and endings confused. May be all endings are beginnings anyway.

When I was eight, my father left us never to come back. He just grabbed his coat and the metal case of photo equipment, kissed my mother’s flour stained chin, nuzzled my forehead till his moustache tickled me and left on what was supposed to be one of his work trips. That was the last we saw of him.

I pressed my face against the window and watched him walk down the rain-soaked street sidestepping a puddle. Rivulets of rain ran down the window and glistened like molten silver. I will always remember the way he walked. Leaning slightly to one side to balance the weight of the case but still seemingly erect and swaggering, like a man who knew what he was doing and where he was going. As he rounded the corner he turned and hesitated as if he had forgotten something. He then did something he does not usually do. He waved to me and blew me a kiss. Then he was gone leaving an empty street with raindrops dancing a parade on the puddles.

He was a photographer for the local newspaper and often had to go away for many days. But he always returned tired and rumpled, smelling of diesel fumes and motorway food. Only this time he didn’t. There were few days of agonising, then the police enquiry, then the eventual realisation that he was truly gone. We never knew what happened.

My mum never recovered from my father’s disappearance. She became fretful and depressed. She never found another man but found solace in her various illnesses. Some imaginary, some real. Some that became real when she imagined them long enough. But all equally important to her sorrow soaked mind. The Doctor became her best friend, the clinic her social club. She always took me with her. I used to cringe as my mum reeled off her latest list of ailments. The Doctor, bless him, was a patient man. He always listened. Head tilted to one side, tap tapping his pen on the table, occasionally looking at me and giving me a half smile before he returned to nodding like a metronome. “You have a pretty little girl, Mrs Miller. And very quiet too. Now about that backache…”


Maybe spending all that time with my mother in the clinic did inspire me after all. When I did medicine so much of it seemed so familiar as my mother had at one time or another thought she had had that ailment. Maybe she hoped atleast her daughter would be the one who solves the eternal enigma of her multiple symptoms as no other Doctor seemed to kind its root cause. I didn’t have a heart to tell her that all her ailments started on the day she realised my Dad was not coming back and slowly but surely took over her life.

I forced myself not to think about my Dad. David says therapists will have a field day with my denial and its repercussions. That’s why I never went to see one.

I should have, because it would’ve stopped me from spending long sleepless nights imagining what could've happened to my father; because it would've stopped me from becoming deeply mistrusting of any man as I view them as someone who'll let you down; because it would've helped me not to get hurt just looking at rain.

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And because it would've prepared me for the day my father walked back into my life thirty years later.

The day this story should really start, according to David.

To be continued ....

© 2012 Mohan Kumar


Jo_Goldsmith11 on January 23, 2014:

I am so glad I happened to find this. I am collecting great stories to read, with intriguing characters, to escape for awhile. I find this so far to be well worth the read. Shared, up and tweeted. Going now to part 2. :-)

raciniwa from Talisay City, Cebu on January 26, 2013:

great story...what will life be like after 30 years?

AudraLeigh on December 09, 2012:

Yes, I am intrigued to read more. Maybe intrigued is not the right word...maybe curious or needing? Beautiful pic at the opening...

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on October 19, 2012:

Docmo, I voted all Up except funny and also to read more of this very interesting story. It is very well-written and holds my interest from start to finish. Well done!

wanabewriter on October 15, 2012:

Very nicely written. Looking forward to continue reading the next chapters.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 03, 2012:

This is an exciting story and it certainly leaves you wanting to know more.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on October 01, 2012:

Docmo: This is excellent writing - so engaging and I want to read more. You know how to tell a story! On to part II

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on September 22, 2012:

Sunnie.. it is a thrill to have this story read my so many of my favorite hubbers whom I admire for their writing. thank you for reading and sharing.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on September 22, 2012:

thank you Michelle for your kind words.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on September 22, 2012:

Thank you so much dotti for reading this and commenting. I have the whole story in my head and have written chapters II and III. Four is on the way... it is the first time I am writing as a 'woman' protagonist and it has been an interesting exercise in POV.

D.Juris Stetser from South Dakota on September 21, 2012:

Deep work here. You wear another character so realistically. Hope this continues. I just discovered it. Voted up, beautiful, awesome, and interesting. You just never fail to deliver the goods, Mohan. Love this. Thank you for sharing it. and I also plan to share it. take care, my friend. I miss spending more time on HP, with you and the other friends I've made there. hugs doti

Michelle Liew from Singapore on September 18, 2012:

A sad, touching short story that kept me glued here. Am zooming in on Part 2 in a while! You really have a great imagination! Shared on HP, tweeted and Google Plused.

Sunnie Day on September 16, 2012:

Docmo this is such a great start to a story that I think will touch our hearts as it has already mine..wonderful writing here. On to chapter two..I shared on face book too. Thank you.


Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on September 09, 2012:

Deborah, really kind... thank you very much!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on September 09, 2012:

Rahul- thank you so much for reading and sharing. Really appreciate your support.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on September 09, 2012:

Thank you so much Aubrey, really appreciate your feedback. I am glad you like this story and my prose. The story has been running around my head for a while and I thought I better commit it down on 'paper'.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on September 03, 2012:

This was beautiful but sad.. docmo you are a master at this


Oh yes I do want to read more


Jessee R from Gurgaon, India on September 03, 2012:

Gripping... you made me get lost in your words.. m running on to the next part

AE Williams from Atlanta, GA on August 27, 2012:

Docmo... what took me so long to read this? It's a great piece of writing and you have an easygoing prose. You're not overzealous and you don't leave the reader wondering "is that it?" You actually do a great job of drawing the reader and bringing in the central conflict. I was entranced, buddy. Great work and I can't wait to read part II!!


Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on August 16, 2012:

Mary, you're a star- thank you so much for your wonderful comments and readership. And thanks for sharing this.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on August 16, 2012:

Maria- you've really got me beaming. I want to be liked for my writing, and not for my genre. I hope people will read whatever I write, for the way I write it and present it. this way I can escape the confines of genre and be like those writers of the past who didn't have 'tag's and 'genre' classifications to confine them. Isn't that one way of not being predictable, apart from hoping to be predictably 'good'. Love and hugs x

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on August 16, 2012:

Thanks Nell, much appreciated!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on August 16, 2012:

drbj- from one 'hooker' to another I really appreciate your comments. You, too hoke the reader in and am glad to be thought of in the same way. Thank you!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on August 16, 2012:

xstatic-- this is the first time I've attempted the female POV in this style of fiction, with some trepidation of course. Thank you!

Mary Craig from New York on August 15, 2012:

You weave a web that pulls the reader in happily. I read Part II and had to come back here to read Part I. What a wonderful story...thank goodness for your David character or we might not have it to read ;)

Voted up, awesome, and interesting. Sharing with my followers so they can be drawn in too!!

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on August 14, 2012:

Dear Mohan,

I am immediately captivated by the title and your illustrations. Your style is confident and draws the reader immediately into the story, an online "page turner".

I am struggling to pick a favorite genre in your writing, for you are masterful in all. I do love a "good book" and this sure has the makings of one. Moving on and voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

Nell Rose from England on August 14, 2012:

Hi Mohan, interesting start to your story, especially writing from a girls point of view, just of to read the rest!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 14, 2012:

For me, Mohan, the mark of a very good writer is to entertain and to hook the reader although not always in that order. You have done just that with this first chapter in 'Suzie's' story, so count me in for the series.