A 19 year old connection, and like wine- getting better with time. Almost two decades of looking up, learning and arguing-but never regretting, never forgetting. As a little girl- life with dad was all about too many chocolates and ice-cream, school projects and the daily ‘running after the school bus’, spiders in the bathroom and injections in the butt, not to mention dressings-down for ‘not finishing the milk’ and ‘leaving all the subzi’. He’d be the center of your universe, after Mom and her shahi paneer and Barbie dolls, the ‘I-wanna-be-like-him’ person. He made sure all my questions, from why the sky was blue to what made multiplication tables so important, were always answered- and a voracious appetite for books was happily encouraged.
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Uncomplicated and almost complacent, but for the occasional hiccups in the form of rare slaps and sprinklings of scoldings, but never a trying experience.
All the problems really, truly started when I entered high school. Dad- the erstwhile spider-crushing, piggyback rides-providing, three wishes genie transformed into this I-don’t-approve-of-your-ways-and-that’s-final person. Suddenly my skirts were too short, telephone conversations too long, my allowance too big and appetite too small. He wasn’t very vocal about his complaints in the beginning. But I just kept getting better and smarter, and that apparently left him with little choice. Boyfriends were always under suspicion, so were late nights and dance parties. Curfews came on, strong and hard, and so did my rebellion. I’d let my mother handle center-stage while would glower in the wings. It delighted me no end that he may have won battles, I always won the war. Or so I thought.
Later, guilt-trips became a frequent habit with me, maybe because I was growing out of those ‘never-never years’ and learning so much more than I’d ever thought I would. Importantly, I was beginning to understand that dad was mostly right, if not always.
He hadn’t seemed particularly excited when I took up a summer job, and practically threw a fit when I insisted on going for work on my second day, despite running a high temperature. It wasn’t that he didn’t want me to be independent (wasn’t it my old man who taught me how to travel alone in buses and which routes to take?!)-but just not willing to let me take too many chances, all at once. That actually felt nice. Even though I’m not a kid anymore, for him I’d always be ‘the little girl who’d help with the luggage and tumble over.’
I might grow up to become someone a lot like him-suave, professional and worldly wise, but I’d always remember peeping from the window each time Dad went on tour, and waving like crazy till he’d disappear out of sight, telling myself “I’ll get my Fixy-Foxy chewing gum when he comes back.”
It doesn’t matter how many arguments you did not have with your father. What actually counts-is the love you got, and gave in return. That’s probably why I am awfully proud of my old man, and guess what-it only keeps increasing. The pride, that is.