It’s very difficult to build a real relationship with someone you have known all your life. Someone who has actually created you...
Of course I adore my dad and known that I have been, am and will always be the apple of his eye. When people say that the father daughter bond is special I whole heartedly agree.
It’s just that there always is something distant in the relationship...till you bridge the gap. That’s because we are all conditioned to behave a certain way. You know the love is unconditional yet the way we share with our moms is just so different. Maybe because we saw more of her and dad was always at work. My father also has a loud booming voice and through my childhood I feared him the days he lost his cool. Or saw my brother getting an occasional slap. With me, it was different; I could ask him for anything and get it...well almost. If he didn’t want me to do something, it was my mom who relied the message. With a warning that I must not bring it up again. So whether it was the school trip to manali or the short skirts in college that were a no no, it was always mom who said it. as I grew up and disliked mom’s autocratic ways I rebelled, told her it wasn’t dad, she was using him as an excuse to have her way. Am sure that hurt so one day she told me to go ask dad myself.
I was twenty one and wanted to apply for a job in another city. I went to dad and for the first time i saw him at a loss for words. “talk to your mother” was his terse reply. Thankfully, my mom didn’t have a I-told-you-so look on her face. I don’t know if I lost respect for him that day but didn’t ask for anything after that. Made peace with my mom playing the go between. Soon I flew the next. Career, cars, crying, cursing, caressing, cajoling and coping was one hell off a roller coaster. Suddenly I was 35 and my mother had died. My brother was happily settled overseas and dad was alone. I moved back home and we were virtual strangers.
For the first couple of months both of us tried to come to terms with the fulcrum of our life gone. At some point I realised that besides the perfunctionary duties that I was performing, there was little companionship that I was offering dad. I made the effort of getting to know him as a person.
I always knew he had strong views on politics but for the first time I got to know why. Got to know what he felt about growing up in a family that had lost everything to partition. I could almost feel what he must have gone through. That era took on another meaning for me. Soon the ice melted and I realised that he really had no issues if I had a drink with him. Many evenings were spent on the terrace, talking and laughing. So much better than two people watching television in their respective rooms.
Our chats also helped me learn so much about myself, how I had assumed so many things about my dad coloured by my mom’s perceptions. His immense knowledge of urdu poetry, the couplets he taught me and how popular they made me at work. He learnt to appreciate my cooking and realised that he loved salads the way I made them.
Today am so glad to rush home and spend quality time with the one man in my life who can truly offer unconditional love.