This Father’s Day, I decided to think about the first memory that I have of my father.
Whenever I think back to my childhood, I am reminded of so many little things that happened when I was as young as three. These are not the memories that people can usually recall, but it seems even more difficult for me to somehow remember my dad in these memories. He was in the Air Force, and spent a little time at home because of the “shifts” or “TDs”, and this I realize must have been the reason for it.
I remember tagging along with him whenever he went out to buy groceries, annoying him to get me chocolates, new shoes, a bicycle; watching him cook amazing chicken and dal fry for me. I never appreciated him. I had all the time in the world to do that, of course.
In the middle of all of this, I grew up to experience the truest indicator of his love when I made him pathetic tea (I tasted that disgusting thing) which he nonetheless appreciated. He loved me, the only one who treated me like an adult (when I was only 12), unlike everyone else.
In a country obsessed with a male child, he never made me and my sister feel like we were any less. As a matter of fact, he always embedded in us the same thinking that he had; there isn’t anything a woman cannot do.
We bonded over cricket and politics and I came to know that there isn’t possibly anything that he did not know of. From sports to the film industry, he had knowledge of every field. He taught me why it isn’t bad to be a “jack of all trades, master of none”; at least you have sufficient information about all worldly matters. Participating is necessary, winning is secondary.
Being the pampered younger child that I am, I used to crib when Papa refused to drop me off to school when I missed my bus, or when he asked me to do my homework on my own or asked me to go to the market alone. I was a little kid of what, 12? How he could do that to me, I wondered. But, that made me independent.
He used to cry while watching emotional movies. “Boys aren’t supposed to cry”, I thought, which obviously stemmed from what my teachers told the boys in my class. But, he did. I never understood it for a long time that contrary to popular belief, MEN DO CRY.
I used to make him pretty little cards on his birthday, and he used to take them to his workplace, saying that he would show his colleagues how talented his daughter was. He was proud of me. And that made me ecstatic.
Then one day, on 12th December, a cold winter morning, he offered me a ride to school on his motorbike. “It’s too cold, Papa. I don’t want to travel on your bike.” “Please”, he said, “I would be bored alone on my way to office”. I refused again. Sadly, he bid me goodbye.
Little did we know that it would be the last conversation we would ever have. He passed away in a road accident on the same night.
That is the last memory that I have of him.
I could never tell him that I loved those rides on his bike, and the discussions we had about how each movie fared at the box office, and the ras malai whenever we went out, or that I loved everything he cooked, and I loved all the pampering. I could never tell him that he was the most precious thing in my life and with him all I lost all joy in festivities.
I could never thank him for teaching me to be self-sufficient, to fight for my rights, to raise me up as someone who can differentiate between right and wrong, to teach me how to be liberated, and to believe in equality.
He made me an independent woman who can keep her head held high even in the most difficult situations, a staunch feminist, and a lover of books.
I could never say anything to him. Why couldn’t I? What was I waiting for? I do not know.
That is how the world works, right? I don’t even thank my mother for raising me on her own after that, for fulfilling all my wishes. We never thank our parents enough.
Fathers usually do not get enough credit for whatever they do for their kids. We see them as blunt and straightforward, forgetting that that’s what is preparing us for our future. They are the first critics of our work. Your mother might even be biased towards you, for once, but your father will always show you the true picture.
This Father’s Day and every day hereon, give your dad the appreciation he deserves, express your gratitude, talk to him about the things he loves, tell him about all your childhood memories with him and cherish them, make them a beautiful card that they can flaunt in front of their friends. You never know when it is too late to do all this.
Happy Father’s Day to your dad, and mine!
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