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Seeing the world, sitting on those broad and strong shoulders, with my little chin perched on his always well groomed hair, is my fondest memory of childhood with him. My father- the man with a thousand qualities!
For as long as I can rewind my memory, I remember Papa to be this person whose life has always revolved around his family. All he has thought about is us, all he has cared for is us and all he has done has been for us. His love has known no measure but he has always balanced it well with his discipline. At times he has pampered us but at times he has also given us the worst scolding of life. The one thing that I adore him for is- my sister or I have never felt that as girls we were given any different upbringing. All around me I had friends who had parents discriminating between them and their brothers. Poor girls, they didn’t even understand they were being subjected to it.
While my father made me climb and fetch vegetables from the creepers that had reached the rooftop and buzzed with hundreds of bumble bees, their fathers forced them in the kitchen. While my father taught me how to change bulbs, tubelights and significance of the red, green and black wires, their fathers encouraged them to learn stitching and sewing. While my father wanted me to be an engineer, their fathers were already looking for a groom. While my father made me learn how to drive, their fathers claimed- “Girls can never be good drivers”. While my father set me off for an MBA, they were already married!
These examples are just a dot in the universe of good parenting he’s done through life. Being in Delhi, the city forever known for being unsafe for girls, it is only obvious for any parent to get anxious when the daughter steps out of the house on her own. On the contrary, my father said, “if anyone troubles you, beat but never get beaten”. It was such a strong thing to say. On another instance, when I was about to get married, he said “if you ever fight in your new house for trivial things that can be mended but still choose to run back to me, I will never accept that and never let you come. But if you’re ever troubled or tortured, never cease to speak to me. I will never accept that either and will never let you go.” This was again a strong statement because all my life I had heard relatives and family friends tell their daughters how it would be a shame if they returned home- whether the reason was verbal abuse or physical. I will always remember these two statements and will also tell my daughters the same.
While my father always encouraged me to be the strongest, in the last five years I discovered a weak point in him and I hate him for that. He has this habit of keeping himself behind when it comes to my in-laws. He never likes to have the last word when there’s a discussion. He never feels the co-ownership in my house like my in-laws do. With due respect to my in-laws for being the wonderful people they are, I fail to understand why my father always chooses to be the typical “father of the bride”. I fail to understand why he raised me to be confident and independent, when one fine day he himself would make me feel inferior.
Dear Papa- Just like you and mom, my husband and I are equals in this marriage. He contributes to the house as much as I do- and we do it in our own different ways. Few days back when he told me that he doesn’t appreciate the male centric Poojas that I do and that he wouldn’t ever want his daughters to do that- I realized how burdened you might be feeling too, to see me fast through days, to see me stretch myself even when I was I pain. But you never said a word. Probably because like always you thought that’s like poking nose. Papa, let me tell you- I am still your little daughter and you still have all the right on my life, my husband, my kids, my house and everything else. Yes, I am a girl, and a proud one and YOU are the reason behind that. So please don’t let the societal norms guide you and set an example, YET AGAIN!
Forever in love,