Abburi Chayadevi’s short tale ‘The Touch’ is the basis for the lesson. In Telugu, she wrote it as ‘Sparsha.’ K. Jayashree Mohan has translated it into English. Abburi Chayadevi was one of Telugu’s first female authors. Her family was quite religious, so she turned to literature as a way of expressing herself. In 2005, she received the Sahitya Akademi Award.
The Affectionate Touch
In a traditional Hindu family, the storyline follows the interaction between a father and his daughter. The father is in his eighties, while his daughter is in her thirties. She is a working lady who is married to a man from the same town but now lives in a different town nearby. The father, who was eighty years old, had deteriorated vision.
He was generally healthy, but due to his bad eyesight, he was frail. He’d lost his grown son and was now left with only his daughters. His wife was now immobile, and he shared his home with his widowed daughter-in-law. His grandchildren were engaged in other things.
Her father had invited his daughter to pay him a visit. When the father notices his daughter dragging a chair closer to him, he invites her to sit next him on his bed, holding her hand affectionately and telling her how much he had been awaiting her to visit him.
The daughter remembers how her father held her at a distance as a youngster for the sake of his traditional way of life, which he called “madi.” She is also a disciplinarian. She still believes she hasn’t gotten over the fact that she was also treated cruelly as a result of the resulting insecurity. She wondered whether he’d ever realize how much she craved his tender touch?
For the last two years, her father had been bedridden. When her husband came to see her mother-in-law, she had managed to visit her father. Sitting close to her father, she reminisces about her upbringing. Her eyes welled up with tears as he gently touched her hands.
She was still unable to be with him as freely as she desired. She had picked few bugs when she initially went to see him during his sickness. Her husband later found a bug on their bed at home and warned her not to sit too near to her father.
Her father longed to meet his sons, she knew. When her brother died, she was hesitant to confront her father due to an unexplainable sense of guilt. Her father pleaded to her that if they returned to his hometown, he would like to stay with them. She gazed at him helplessly, unable to comfort him with words. Her father didn’t say anything else and only rubbed her hands gently.
Her education, her career, and everything seemed to be in vain and shallow at the time. She was still affected by her father’s loving touch as she rode back in an autorickshaw, and tears welled up in her eyes.