He took me in his arms the day I was born.
He carried me on his shoulders when I was 2.
He went on to stay abroad alone for the next 25 years when I was 3, so my brother and I could have a better life.
He came home every 2 years just so that he could bring us lots and lots of gifts and see the smiles on our faces.
He worried himself sick and cried even for a little cold we caught.
He told me stories of how he would fight animals in a jungle to save us when I was still a little girl who loved listening to stories.
He listened patiently to my tantrums whenever I fought with Mom in my teens.
He loved me like no one has ever loved his daughter. I was always Daddy’s little girl. There was no one I was more attached to than my father.
I used to be immensely proud of the fact that my father had never really said an angry word to me, had never beaten me even for the biggest of mistakes. This was until one day when I was 13. He was home for his vacation and was leaving in another week’s time. We had just finished watching a movie at home. We were still laughing at the silly jokes in the movie. Since it was our bed time my brother and I went to bed. For some reason my brother started taunting me and I got irritated. He kept teasing me and I started yelling at him out of my anger at him not letting me sleep. This must have gone on for around 5 minutes when my father suddenly rushed into my room, pulled me out of my bed and beat me angrily – twice. I was taken aback, shocked to be precise, as he had never ever hit me before. My mother and brother were equally shocked I guess. After asking me to quietly go back to sleep, he went out of the room.
I wept all through the night. The next day I got up with a feeling of insolence. I decided not to talk to my father ever again. He tried his level best to comfort me, make me feel better and get me back to normal before he left. But I could always be adamant if I wanted to. I didn’t speak to him for the next week. With a heavy heart, I’m sure, he had to leave. Even after he reached there I refused to speak to him over the phone, for the next one year. What I failed to see was how much he cried after losing his control for a moment and beating me. I came to know later from my mother that he didn’t sleep the entire night. I came to know that even today he feels bad at what happened, just the way I do.
That was the first time I hurt my father.
By the next time he came, I was back to my normal self and became his little girl yet again. He pampered me like a kid even when I was in my twenties. There was a part of me which wanted to be pampered like this for the rest of my life. There was another part of me which wanted him to take me more seriously, understand I was a mature woman, although when I think of it now, I was far from mature. We fought several times since then – sometimes for petty reasons, sometimes for serious ones like how I was running away from marriage. I got hurt big time and sometimes thought of leaving home. I did so too, a couple of times in the name of deputations and requirements at work. I started believing that he didn’t love me as much as he used to, that he wasn’t attached to me anymore the way he used to be. But what I failed to understand yet again was that every time I got hurt, he was getting hurt too, every single time.
I went on being blind until one day we got into the biggest fight we had ever been in for something where we were both right, something we were both hurt. I lashed out at him in a way I had never done before. My acid tongue struck his heart. In a moment of fury what I said left him devastated. For him, it was a moment of realization that I was no longer his little girl, that I had grown up, that I had grown apart.
That was the last time I hurt my father.
It took me months to see the complete impact of what I had unleashed. I was far away, away from everything, distancing myself from everyone. It was only when I met him later that I could see how hurt he was, how he could not look at me the same way anymore. That moment made me realize I could never be a good daughter to the man who loved me more than his life. If there was anything I could do to turn back time and take back what I said, I would do it. If there was any penance I could pay to make him feel better, I would pay it. If there was anything I could say to make him happy again, I would say it.
Because now more than ever I wish I could be Daddy’s little girl again.