A Father’s Love……..
They say that from the instant he lays eyes on her a father adores his daughter. Whoever she grows up to be, she is always to him that little girl in pigtails. She makes him feel like Christmas. In exchange, he makes a secret promise not to see the awkwardness of her teenage years, the mistakes she makes or the secrets she keeps
The thing to remember about fathers is, they’re men. A girl has to keep it in mind: They are dragon-seekers, bent on improbable rescues. Scratch any father, you find someone chock-full of qualms and romantic terrors, believing change is a threat – like your first shoes with heels on, like your first bicycle I it took such months to get. -Phyllis McGinley
This is for you papa…
You,who cries more than he laughs while watching ‘father of the bride’
You, who cries when you hear any ‘bidaai geet’,
You, whom I pretend not to look at when tears are rolling down your cheeks,
You, who thinks all men are fools and ‘ladkewaale‘are greedy pigs out to con everyone,
You,who scoffs at the idea of ‘kundalis’,
You, who does not find a single guy worthy of your princess,
You, who doesn’t like a prospective son-in-law because he doesn’t roll his ‘R’s right,:)
You, who eats everything I cook like its a gourmet meal,
You, who eats my half burnt ‘rotis‘ with barely a grimace,
You, who rushes me to the hospital because a fever of 101 meant and still means an ’emergency’ in your book,
You, who understands me more than mom at times,
and you who is the peacemaker between us,
You ,who has the softest spot for your ‘first born’
You,who thought he had a child genius on his hands when a 2 year old girl pointed out all the ‘A’s in the newspaper,
You, who knew all about child psychology much before it became commonplace,
You, who taught your kids all about ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’,so nobody could take advantage,
You,who was delighted at the prospect of a little girl,your first born,
even though some thought she wasn’t ‘lakshmi‘but a calamity,
You who wanted nothing but the best for your little girl,
You,who looked heartbroken ,when a 6year old daughter refused to recognize you and come to you ,
because she was seeing you after almost a year and a half of ‘field’ posting,
You,who was proud to be the father of a little english writer who made up stories and told all of them to you in her lilting tongue,
You,whom I hurt beyond measure with that vast silence of a year,
I am sorry papa……
You,who was always exasperated with your children at their inability to learn ‘our language’,
You,who tried to cram complete U.P history lessons in a one month holiday,
You ,who seemed to be petrified of forgetting your ‘roots’,
You, who took a little girl on your shoulders to show her your ‘gaon‘,
You ,who had the shortest temper in the world,
You,who had the patience of a saint with your children,
You, who is in exactly 11 photographs out of the countless family
Because you were always behind the camera ,never infront of it,
You,who always made sure to remind your children that their father was an army officer,not them….
You,who made sure that ‘attitude’ never became a part of our vocabulary,
You,who always told exaggerated stories of how you went to school,
walking miles,wading through rivers and ponds,braving the scorching sun and the frozen winters,
Stories that your children heard wide eyed and spellbound,until they grew up and figured it out:)
You, the middle born, rarely held with affection,
You,whose quietness was mistaken for stubbornness,
You,whose need for love was never seen,
You,who was always thought of as the ‘black sheep’ of the family,
You,whose contributions were never recognized,
And to whom needs were furtively whispered,
The burdens of family never ceased..
And yet,I never saw you complain,not once
You never uttered a word
It was your ‘duty’…
And yet I wonder…Didn’t you ever resent them?
Dislike them for what they did?
rant against your fate?
But you are not made that way…
You are not any of those people
You are you,just you,
The man who adjusted between two extremes,
The ‘high life’ and the ‘roots’,
The ‘wine connoisseur’ and the teetotaler,
You,who sometimes, when you are in a reminiscing mood will tell stories of when you were at B.H.U ,U.P college,Allahabad University,
Of how you were President of the Student Union,
Of how you would have been in politics had fate not intervened,
You,who is an atheist and yet stands infront of the temple each Diwali,
chanting the’aarti‘ with mom because it makes her happy,
You, whose first love is mom but will never say it to her because you don’t know how
You, who craves each hug because you rarely had them as a kid,
You, who is proud of the flawless English and Hindi your children speak,
Because you were self taught,your english is all your very own work…
You, whose second love is collecting exquisite stationery and books of all kinds,
Because you could not do that as a kid,
You, who keeps correcting our grammar and you who will ask us to spell the toughest words just to ‘check’ our ‘English’:),
You, who always had a ‘Vijai Super’and a Black and white t.v ,
and who had his first four wheeler , a second hand ‘Maruti’ at the age of 41 and a colour t.v at 39,
You, whose sole reason for taking the black and white t.v and the car was the fact that your kids went and saw cartoons at a neighbour’s place,
And craved sitting in ‘that’ amby,
You and mom who gave no importance to wealth,having lost it at countless points in life,
A king one day and almost a pauper the next,
You,who never let your kids feel the pinch,
And we ,who never knew about all this until a few months back,
You ,who were the the original ‘hippie kid’,the ‘rebel without a cause’
The runaway at age 17,who wanted to take on the world,leave a mark,
The one,who swapped jobs so often, a sugar mill manager one day, a teacher the next,an electrical engineer at one time, and the J.P follower who left it all,
Finally settling on being an Army Officer,
It was a fluke you always made sure we knew,not patriotism
The patriotism?…that came later, after the uniform….
You , the kid who felt suffocated at home,
You, who spent your whole life in a tug of war,
Trying not to forget your roots and trying to escape them,
You,who can watch a ‘regional ’channel for hours on end,
And you,who doesn’t speak it in formal company,
You, who is a curious and heartbreaking mix of an old, cynical man and a frightened child…
You ,whom I love a lot,
But admire even more..…much more..
Because of what I see,and what I have seen,
Of where you came from,and where you have been
Of where you stand now
And where you have made us stand,
For all this and more papa,I love you.
You ,whom I used to pester so much,
with my ideas of feminism,
of how I used to tell mom to stop ‘doing’ things for you,
to stop making tea for you..:)
wasn’t she her own woman?
where was her self respect?
and you and mom who were so indulgent,
of how you understood what I was going through…
of how proud you were of these ‘feminist’ ideas of mine..
It was only later that I saw… that you were an eclectic mix of so many things,
that ideas like feminism never occurred to you..
because you always treated mom as an equal
and gave your daughter all the freedom,and wasn’t that how things were supposed to be?:))
You who can quote Sanskrit shlokaas like a pandit.
You who interrogates pandits at wedding ceremonies only to tell them that they are saying it all wrong,
Till mom nudges you and you subside:)
You ,who raised us to be secular and multi cultural
And you who is proud to be a kshatriya,You ,who tells us tales of the bravery of rajputs,tales of valour of our ancestors,
You ,who says being proud of your identity is different from being caste conscious,
One is pride and identity ,the other is dogma and strife,
You who tells us ,”Don’t let the pride become superiority.”
You, who is uncomfortable when ‘they’ come to you in the village and sit by your feet,
You ,who taught us to give elders respect and never call them by name,
And you who could just watch helplessly when ‘dadi’ gave ‘them’ food in a separate ‘thaali’,
You, who is so systematic and organized,
And you who cannot remember mom’s birthday,
You, who pretends that birthdays are a nuisance ,that gifts are overrated,
You ,who doesn’t know how to accept gifts because you never got them as a kid,
And you who keeps a covert lookout to see if anyone remembers your birthday,
Who is delighted like a kid with each gift you get…
You, who is baffled by your older son’s silences,
The one who followed in your footsteps and donned the uniform,
And yet has no common meeting point with you,
He, too, is the middle born..
Is that significant?
You ,who had such high hopes for your daughter
And are disappointed with her choices,
It is only with your youngest that you have learnt to compromise,
On him you shower all the love,lavish all the affection,
Because,he has no dream of yours to live upto,
No pressurizing need to follow you,
On him you have placed no burden of family history,
You,the guy who naps during movies,
And you the ‘Sholay ‘ buff,the one who remembers each dialogue,
Who made his baffled wife and kids watch it thrice,
You ,about whom mom says,’’He has a beautiful voice’’,
You and mom ,the golden couple ,the singing couple,all old family friends tell us,the uncles and aunties..
The toast of parties, you both…
And yet in all these years I have rarely heard you sing…..(ecpet when you are humming to yourself:))
You, who always believed that your little girl would one day be Miss Universe,an Army officer,a P.Hd all rolled into one,
You who used to never even think about a daughter’s marriage marriage because it just never occurred to you.
For, aren’t children meant to stay with you forever?
You,the ‘Hippie kid’ who rebelled against society once upon a time..
Who used to scoff at all the stupid ‘rules’
You who wanted to keep your daughter safe and protected with you forever..
You who forgot that ‘our’ society would not allow you to do so…
Because aren’t daughters ‘paraya dhan’? meant to be married off?
Isn’t that what dadi had always said?
You, who hates the concept of dowry.
and yet it happened without a qualm because you were the dutiful son,who never demurred..
You, who never met mom before the day of marriage,
And you who gives me subtle hints to have a courtship period,so that I ‘know ‘ the other person…
‘Courtship’,such a quaint word papa!
Do you miss that romance with mom?
Of what could have been?
I see a love strong and solid between both of you,
And I wonder where is the romance?
Mom tries to convince me that love at first sight is overrated anyway…..and that true love comes gradually…over time..
And you who takes a look at my face,and nudges mom to make her hastily say,”Of course ,one’s own wishes and romance is important too”
Are you trying to convince me papa or yourself?
Were you a romantic soul ,one who believed in happily ever afters?
Did you ever want to be the swashbuckling hero for mom?
Or did you yearn to marry some girl from college,the one whom you would have chosen on your own?
But this love is beautiful too papa
This love that I see between you and mom..
The serene and quiet love,
One that comes after a lifetime of knowing
But I cannot imagine a love without arguments and heat ,papa
A love where ‘marriage’ comes first and ‘love ‘ comes gradually..
And yet I see both of you content with life,with each other,
Finishing each other’s sentences,knowing the likes and dislikes,
that faint brush of fingers when mom gives you the morning tea,
And the way you both smile at each other in the middle of a conversation,
as if,at a private joke…..
Am I getting all maudlin?Your favourite word:)the one you always made me spell..:)
Can I ever say these words to you papa?I don’t know.But this is my catharsis.I have lived my life in cliches,and I am expressing myself in them too.If that is so,then so be it.My effort at trying to understand you….I do now….you are not just my father,but a little kid, a rebel, a sullen teen, a loving husband, a doting father,a beautiful human being….
”Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later…that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life.”
~ Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities
”How could that beautiful woman with you
Be the same freckle face kid that I knew
The one that I read all those fairy tales to
And tucked into bed all those nights..
And I knew the first time I saw you with her
It was only a matter of time..
But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed,
When she first smiled at me,
I knew the love of a father runs deep,
And I prayed that she’d find you someday
But it still hard to give her away
I loved her first…,
Someday you might know what
I’m going through
When a miracle smiles up at you
But,I loved her first…
she is my baby girl…
” ~ A father(Heartland Lyrics)