In this article is an imaginary character going through a difficult father-daughter relationship that the author has fabricated by means of observation and imagination.
I am fine. All’s well. I keep telling myself, developing the confidence in me. I am not the first or the only one to not have her dad at the graduation. “I wish he was dead, so I wouldn’t need to come up with an excuse for his absence”, I messaged my boyfriend on the previous evening.
You must wonder, what sort of a girl would wish demise upon her dad? Maybe, the kind who never had a dad.
My father is a retired marine navy corp. and was the most successful officer of his time. He spent most of his life fighting away the bad guys. Who would have thought he would become a bad guy in his daughter’s books. He never wanted a child to love and nurture, just someone to carry on his legacy. Well, long story short, he wanted a dude but got a chick. The gamble seemed too heavy for him, so he didn’t even try for another chance at the legacy. He brought a whole human into the world and started resenting it from day one.
Childhood days were easy. He was gone for months and when he came, he brought gifts that he complimentary received. It’s hard to sense resentment when a person’s only contact with you is chocolates or the long holiday trips on the cruise. Looking back on those days, I felt lucky, free and for the most part, loved!
I was seven, I think. We had gone for Diwali shopping. Mummy wanted for me to go for the usual top and pants. But I, under the influence of Kareena Kapoor’s ‘bole chudiyan’ dress, went straight to the lengha chunri section and started picking out vibrant and colourful fabrics. My mother’s face started turning blue with nervousness, something I didn’t know I was going to see a lot in the coming years. The moment I stepped out of the changing room and caught my father’s eye, everything changed.
He stormed out of the place with an anger I had never seen and a disappointment no child should bear. What’s wrong? I signaled at my mother and was responded with her taking me back to the changing room and undressing me immediately. None of my parents ate that night, as I was already full by the MacDonald’s.
So, years did the one thing they knew how to do: they passed. And things started becoming clearer than a mirror. At first, I thought, my father, a liberal progressive army general, didn’t like girls. He must be a sexist. Okay, I used to think. He doesn’t like girls because they are a burden. I used to watch T.V. show Balika Vadhu every day and was pretty much convinced my father’s mentality was similar to that of those characters. It’s easier to accept the course of fate than to make an effort in changing your circumstances. But, I wasn’t that lucky. And it didn’t take to genius to figure out the issue of the core. He has no problem with girls and was stable enough to handle the ‘burden’. His problem was bigger than what a 14-year-old can handle.
So, I overheard a conversation between him and his friends. The latter were congratulating him on his retirement and added how they hope his daughter carries on the torch. To my misfortune, he replied: “I don’t think she can. It’s a man’s job. There is no one to bear my flag when I die.” My heart broke into a thousand pieces and I collected each of it with a strength I didn’t know I had and started googling ‘women in the army’. Tons of pictures came up. What was his problem? Did he not know that women can join the army and be successful?
I buckled up and went straight to him to tell him that I wish to become an army officer and serve our country. The way his face shined at the moment, I’ll never forget. It didn’t take him a week to find a decent army school and shoved me straight in the moment my academic year concluded.
He was hopeful, energized and affectionate. I got addicted to the attention and tried to make it stay. I stopped wearing skirts; I threw away all the pink and started hating on anything feminine. The coming months, I transformed completely. I ignored my mental health and spent the entire day hustling just so I could hear his voice at night. But I hated it. I didn’t want to become an officer in the army. I wanted to do something in fashion. I still loved the Kareena Kapoor lengha chunni and missed all my pinks. Then one day, walls of the dam broke. I had hurt my knee and started crying on the phone. Instead of consoling me, he scolded me. I knew then, all my efforts will never be enough. I cried myself to sleep and woke up a totally different person.
Image Source: Unsplash
Those few weeks were the only time I ever had happy conversations with the man who gave birth to me. Maybe that’s why it still hurts. I saw the full potential of my father’s love, only to come back to an empty & broken relationship. I have no contact with both my parents now. My mother never took my side. She chose to be a passive watcher throughout my life, so that’s the place I give her now.
I’ve moved on, but I haven’t forgiven anyone. I am a thriving fashion graduate now. His rejection of me as a person broke me. And no, I am not thankful for that. I’d rather have a father or none at all.