Dad wanted another son. Mom wanted a daughter. That is what they told the doctor, when my mother was going into labor. But the
minute second he looked at me, we just clicked. My father adores me. In fact adore is too small a word to be commensurate of his affection for me. From one of my earliest memories, I remember him putting aside his work to play with me. We are not rich but I have had everything without having to ask for it. How do I know that? Because I have great difficulty in asking for things. I make a mental blue print to approach another individual for addressing a need. Since I do not recall myself doing the same for any of my doll houses, kitchen sets, board games, pink frocks, story books, crackers, school trips or birthday parties, I know that I am blessed. At the age of five, I decided upon a daily allowance of rupees ten and he obliged. Why? Because I wanted to have mini bank where I could deposit my money and then loan sums out of it on interest. He laughed at the idea but never forgot to do his bit for the bank.
He had one dream for my future, That I become a lawyer. Since a young age, I had exhibited proficiency at managing his paperwork and politeness at taking official calls. So it was only natural for him to assume that I shall succeed him in his office. However given my ineptitude at the subject, I had different plans for my career. We had an emotional episode three years ago because he wanted me to take the Common Law Admission Test. Eventually I agreed and appeared for the exam only for him to have his way. But I still went to a different college, to pursue a subject I chose myself. Did my decision hurt him immensely? Did he stop talking to me? Did it alter his love for me?
Why am I touching this tangent? Because there is a new show on television called Everest. A twenty one year old girl sets out on a journey to climb Mount Everest to win her father’s love. A father who wanted to have a son to see him serve in the Indian army like himself. A father who never looked at his daughter, said a kind word to her or celebrated her little victories in life. She reminded him of his failure to produce a son. Mounting the Indian flag on Everest’s peak was his second dream which remains unrequited on account of an injury suffered in the Kargil war. The daughter believes that a triumph on Everest will be a triumph on her father’s heart.
Will he come to love her? He may take pride in her resolve. He may be moved to see the lengths that she had gone to, in the pursuit of his love. But will it stir his conscience to admit the injustice that the poor girl had suffered at his hands? Will he be remorseful? What if he comes up with another dream or sets another goal for her? What if, he asks her to oblige to his whim of getting her married at twenty two?
I don’t think that he will truly love her. Here is a man who ignored a beautiful child in front of him. He could not love her for her innocence. He could not love her when she fought her way into a male dominated local basketball team. He could not love her for being the State topper in English honors. He could not love her for being a gold medalist in Literature. He did not even approve of a blue cup that she picked to serve him tea.
Assuming that her endeavor manages to endear the father towards her, will he love her for her own individuality? Or will it be love for the picture of a perfect child that he had imagined?
I am not going to law school. But my father still adores me. We still fight over the music that will play in the car. We make silly bets on what will happen next in a television show. He comes to me with his courtroom stories. We make jokes over the mayhem around us when we are stuck in a traffic jam. We go on drives to eat gol gappe or have a glass of Pepsi mixed with soda.
How does this happen? Because our endearment is not contingent on his expectations of me. It is unconditional.
It is incorrect to show on TV that a father will admire his daughter only if she fulfill his dreams. Its akin to putting a price tag on affection. Its crude to depict that a daughter has to be a dream execution machine. That she will have to endure adversities to justify her existence.
Dear Dads, life is too short to not love your daughter, to subdue her unique spirit in want of a son.