This post is submitted as an entry for the BlogAdda’s Father’s Day Contest at http://blog.blogadda.com/2010/06/16/tribute-to-dad-contest. It is also written as part of a series of posts dedicated to my wonderful family. You can read the earlier posts in this series here at HTU – Part I and HTU – Part II.
There are a million things I could write about when it comes to my Dad. All the conventional goody-goody things that all daughters would write. How Daddy used to buy me chocolates, how he tucked me into bed, how he used to spoil me rotten. But this Father’s Day, I want to mention some of the things which don’t always come to the forefront when you think of good memories. But memories which all the same speak of a special bond between a father and his daughter. Things which were not spoken or expressed directly but which left an impression in my heart long after they happened.
Mummy says Daddy saw me for the first time when I was almost eleven months old. Not eleven hours. Eleven months. No typo there. Like many a Gulf-job bound father, Daddy only arrived in time to celebrate my first birthday. And Mummy goes on to describe the white frilly dress he brought me as a birthday present (read compensation for the eleven months).
This scene I can imagine amongst the din of an ancient Cochin Airport arrivals hall. The happy family reunion. Daddy bending down to pick up his newest addition to the family. Mummy looking relieved that Daddy’s back home. And somewhere in the recesses of my childish imagination, I felt a slight resentment that he never came before.
But now that I am all grown up (in the eyes of everybody except my Dad and Mom) and a mother to my own baby, I know what parental anxiety means. What I never realised before was how difficult it would have been for my father to stay away from his lovely daughters as long as he did. Of the loneliness and painstakingly slow letters that must have been his company in those months away from us. And Daddy now I hear what I didn’t hear then, “Daughter, for you I am willing to do all in my power so that you may live a better life.”
Of Clocks and Notebooks
Time. I struggled a lot with this as a child. My school teacher would stamp time-stamps of clocks showing different times in our notebooks. And the students had to do the then Herculean task of figuring out the time. I used to sit there hyperventilating, all my courage ebbing out of me as I stared at the minute and second hands. The numbers on the dial dancing about and teasing me to guess the time. While the minute and second hands seemed to rotate faster and faster till my head spun.
Daddy tried his best to teach me. He explained patiently. Then he questioned. My head spun. He again explained. Then questioned. My head still spun. The numbers still danced. The hands moved faster. Finally the lessons ended with a bout of scolding from my father and trembling lipped me still clutching my time-stamped notebook.
As a child, it felt cruel that my brain should be subjected to such torture as how to learn to read the time. And it felt even worse because my patient ever-loving father had not understood that.
But somewhere along the years I mastered the art of clock reading and along with it I realized what Daddy had expressed then, “Daughter, I won’t be there for you all the time. I want you to be independent and know how to deal with things yourself. I love you so I must let you go and be your own person.”
Of Hospitals and Smiles
Daddy suffered his first heart attack in 2001. I had just joined college then. I remember visiting him in the ICU room. The only sound inside had been of the gentle whirring of hospital machinery and what sounded like soft sobs from the adjoining cubicle. And Daddy had been lying on the bed looking so old and shrunken.” When did he age so fast?” I had thought. I had never noticed when the wrinkles crept in. Never noticed when the greys began showing. And I had stood beside his bed and cried.
Daddy had been discharged after a week. He looked like a hollow shell of his usual self. All of us had treated him like as if he were made of glass. But I remember how he would hold my hand and smile reassuringly. Sometimes cracking a joke to lighten the atmosphere. He never once showed how terrified he must have felt after such an experience. And gradually we all drew courage from him.
It struck me then that he was telling me “Daughter, I will always be your pillar of strength. You can count on me.”
Of Mothers and Newborns
Late last year, I gave birth to my first child. And soon after the initial hiccups were through, my newborn had a bout of colic. Which saw us spending many a sleepless night. And me getting more and more frustrated as the sleep deprivation piled on. One night, I had just had enough. The hours stretched along punctuated by feedings and unsuccessful attempts to shush my little colicky baby. By dawn, I was tired, confused and dejected. I remember handing the then peacefully sleeping infant to my father and trying to rush past him to have a good cry inside the comfort of the bathroom. Daddy took one look at me and smiled. He placed the baby in the cradle and took his little girl in his arms and said “That’s motherhood. It’s all part of the package. Things will get better. Don’t worry.” And like how an infant finds solace in his mother’s arms, I found solace in his arms and allowed the tears to flow.
Daddy, those words ring in my ears often and I understand their meaning now “Daughter, you don’t need to speak a single word. I understand you perfectly, my precious! “.
Chip off the old block
In more ways than one, I am my Daddy’s girl. I inherited his aristocratic nose and his straight (but fine) hair. I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, like him (much to the irritation of my eternally insomniac Mum). And above all, I have a penchant for reading like he does. And I also like to believe I can make magic with words, just like he does.
So this Father’s Day, I wish every Father the best wishes and every Daughter the wisdom to hear what their Fathers never told in words but expressed in deeds!
Author’s note: Ever since Daddy read my post on Mummy in HTU – Part 1, he has been hinting in his Daddyish adorable way that I write one about him. So thank you Blogadda for giving me this opportunity to finally write this dedication to my father and not forever procrastinate on it!
I have a Facebook fan page which is starting to show signs of dehydration in terms of fan count. So if any of my kind readers would do me the favour of going and liking my page, ‘ppreciate it a lot!