(This letter is a part of The Quint’s Father's Day series where readers write their little secrets to their dads.)
This Father's Day, I thought I would jazz it up a bit and write you a letter. I know as a family we didn't really celebrate "days". The most we did on a birthday or anniversary was to eat ice cream. No presents. No special dinners. No flowers. After all, it was just another day. But every now and then, I wish someone would throw me a surprise birthday party. Or give me a present, or send me flowers or take me out to dinner. Just like that. For the fun of it!
So, Anna, out of character and tradition, this year I am going to tell you things I have never told you before.
All in honour of Father's Day.
I loved that you were goofy with us when we were kids. The only father we knew of, who would scare the the living daylights out of his daughters for fun, or read Asterix, or specially drive kilometres out of the way, so that we could experience a bumpy ride.
I was in awe of your ability to crack a joke on any subject, and be the centre of attraction at any party, solely because of your wit. I was and am in awe. And definitely, jealous.
I still remember that you called me aside and told me to stand up for myself, when my siblings stole my share of treats from the fridge. I did learn to stand up for myself. And now I often find myself in the corner of the underdog in a fight.
I still shake my head with disbelief that you think that "idiot" and "fool" are curse words! You would admonish us gently with a "Don't use dirty words!" when we did.
I am irritated that the photo of me that you like is a shot of me leaning against a lamp-post, sulking after being rudely awakened from jet-lagged sleep. I was a child. And I had to lean against a pillar, to sleep while pretending to be awake. Hollywood Boulevard be damned. Couldn't you have liked one where I looked cute?
I cringe with embarrassment when I recall how you would interrogate every boy I introduced you to. No question was too personal. No relationship left undiscovered.
I thank you for the wonder of travel. Every home-country trip, we saw different countries and experienced different cultures. History came alive. Geography showed her beauty. I think I have little wings, invisible wings, under my feet, like you had.
Oh! How many times this wonder of travel worried me! Even in your 80s, you and Amma would disappear on a trip and not tell me. I had to track you down like a detective.
I am amused that although you have flown around the world many, many times, you are still nervous to fly. As children, we liked making you cringe, when we loudly wished for the adventure of being hijacked! Sorry.
I appreciate that you made me believe that the colour of my skin was inconsequential. Especially in a family of fair people. To you, I was pretty. A “pretty” that meant practical, intelligent, confident, logical, respected.
I cry now to see you helpless and so dependent on people. And I lie when I tell you it doesn’t matter. It does. And it hurts. Physically hurts.
I feel guilty and I wonder if I am a bad child, a cruel child, when I wish that your life would end, peacefully and quickly. I think 10 years of suffering is enough. And these three years have taken the mickey out of both of us.
I love the way your face lights up with a toothless smile when I ask you if you want to eat ice cream, or jalebi, or mysore pak. I sometimes ask you this, just to see you smile. A smile that is infectious and makes me want to skip like a little child.
I don’t know how to end this letter other than to say that I both dread and look forward to every day with you.