Often perceived as the stricter parent, the one mom rushes to, to complain if the child goofs up, in a patriarchal society fathers are denied the emotional tie a mother benefits from. Long stretches of time spent outside, lesser interaction and bonding time add to worsen the situation encouraging a myriad of misunderstandings and flawed perceptions. Sunidhi and Akhil tell us how fallacies burdened their thoughts, stalling them from reaching out to their fathers till that one moment of truth arrived and all misconstructions crumbled down and disappeared into thin air.
“My father and I, for as long as I remember, had remained divided by this glass wall; he could see me, but my words failed to reach his ears or mind. Maa and I, however, were like friends – best friends – and so I was confident that she’d fathom my misery, when just after 5 months after marriage, in the dead of the night, I showed up at her door. But she couldn’t hear the story of my bruises over the societal noise. “Go back – girls have to adjust – you will learn little by little – put in some effort…” After breakfast next day, as my quivering feet make a move for the threshold, he hollered, “Where to?” “Don’t worry, ji. She’s going back to her in-law’s.” maa spoke for me. “Why? Hasn’t she taken enough beating already? Let me know if she wants a few more lashes, I too have few belts and slippers, why travel all the way to that house for this.” Sarcasm came naturally to him, at time leaving us at the end of our wits with his cynicism. “Samajh na aa raha tujhe kya bol raha hu main? Jutey chaapal khane na bheja tha tujhe byah ke.” Papa was a strict man, he never played my horse, never tied my shoelaces, never spoke to me in gu gu language. But he spoke when needed the most. He doesn’t believe in “Father’s Days” but since that morning, for me the sun has risen to a happy father’s day.
“Dad wasn’t around when I was growing up, he was deputed in Andaman and could never move enough strings to get transferred back to Bareily; mom alone raised me and its needless to say my young mind was embossed with an unflattering image of my father. I turned 19 when he finally worked his way back to Bareily; the rift between us soon came to light, so appallingly deep and vast that no one attempted to bridge. Things changed the day my application to Melbourne Business School got accepted. “Half of my life was spent away from my husband, now that your father is back, you want to go. There are enough and more universities in India, you don’t have to cross the ocean for any degree.” mom bickered. “I had to spend my youth away so Akhil could build the kind of life he dreams of. I didn’t burn the midnight oil all my life to see my son live a constrained life in this town. Let him cross the ocean, Saroj, I did too.” The oceans were finally crossed, the rifts levelled. Why was it so difficult for me to see his agony of living a life in exile in a tiny island – all this so I could have a better future?
Most fathers struggle in expressing to their little ones the affection they hold in their hearts. If your father is the quiet kind failing at articulating endearment, falling prey to a million warped presumptions, don’t wait for the extreme to happen. Take the first step to cover those distances today. Happy Father’s Day.