Sometimes stereotypes work like wonders!
Alright so normally we don’t write about men… except in an unflattering kind of way…hey you know there are good reasons…(smile please) but TODAY is not the reason…today we are celebrating fatherhood, just like the day! It’s not like you need a day to celebrate the special bond between daughters and fathers. After all, If we were to reason like Freud then apparently, we all wanted to marry our dads…at some point when we ran around in our diapers or nappies, we probably did.
After all, he was the fascinating guy who came home in the evening, seemed to bring in good cheer and grocery and smiles to the faces of all including the biggest one on your mom’s right? Phew…worry not, sometimes, he was also the guy who brought in jitters to the body of people who worked in your home, and a grimace to your mom’s face because she was running behind in her chores, and snack and tea was not yet ready, and sahib was on his way…so you would see your mom running around in a tizzy for that garam chai ka pyala! And what about the times, he was coming and they were leaving right away for an evening to the Boss’s house, and mummy was all ready and waiting and he cancelled because a friend needed him to go along to the doctors. Mummies were always annoyed with daddies priorities…but he set the tone of what became your values and principles…and you fell a little bit more in love which would last even without the cheap toys that he remembered to bring home with the grocery. And when your mom saw the toys and the candy and the what not, it was another reason for her delivery of a long drawn lecture on “ spoil karo” “waste karo” and “I don’t care, do whatever” …and then somewhere deep inside her mommy-biology breathes a sigh of relief because she picked the right guy who loves their child as much as she does…and she makes an even more fabulous dinner than usual.
And then when you turned 6 or 7 or that indiscriminate age, when school is becoming important and home work is boggling those tiny brain cells of ours. He was the guy sitting across with his hot tea, and telling you about the importance of education and learning, interspersed with “ beti, you are my son”. “ I am proud of you”, and that occasional, “ bhai you are not trying hard, you put in so much time riding that bike, readings comics, and playing on the street” …and then finally would come the memory-jog “when I was your age, you know, my school did not….” And apparently, that one worst school in the world was your dad’s -with teachers who beat the crap out of the boys and that one headmaster, who had made roting an art form, … and no tables or chairs or “ OMG…and then little missy smart that you were, from the first guilt on listening to this tirade you transition to that expression of patience and automatically tuned it out while vigorously shaking your head. And he continued to teach you algebra and geometry and then some physics.
There were also the evenings with you sick with the many illnesses of childhood and in the middle of feverish chills and your mother’s constant presence is the idea that the man standing hovering is the one running to call the doctor, getting the medicine, and carrying you in his arms to the doctor…and you know he can run all the way if he needs to…the comfort of having a man around that we women crave seems to be building right there….
When you are the teenager, the first person to say, “ so beta who is Raju, Shekhar, etc etc,” is your dad… while your mom is monitoring what you wear, “skirt is short, top is tight, where is your dupatta” conversations become the norm when you step out f the house. When slighted or feeling misunderstood, she calls your father…he says “arre let her be bhai”…and then later he is standing right at the door, saying… “beta, I have raised you like a son…ahem…but the world is not ready for girls like you so…be careful” …or he will say, just call if you need to be picked up”…and then “where are you going…who all are going”…the casual unending-conversation is being filed away in that head …and…when you are back maybe a little late as you turn 16, you see mom sitting on the dining table waiting…and when you are glad, that papa is sleeping, and as you tip toe, you hear his voice talking softly to mom “did she eat any food? You should not worry, now go to sleep”….and you smile even though you are annoyed at being treated like the kid, you are.
And after numerous trips to give exams riding pillion on papa’s scooter or in his car, or sitting with him the rickshaw, where he goes over your paper and calculates how many points you will get. He is looking at the options for what if you do not make it. And when you first make it through the professional school or the first job as you turn 20, he is the one making phone calls to relatives you did not know you had, your accomplishment easily translating to his lineage. While mom is busy praying to all the gods possible for good wishes for you, he is creating a network in the new city you have to move to, opening your bank account, transferring money, and increasing a little of your allowance for the shopping you need as you step towards the adult life.
The calls from them every evening never stop, in the one to five years you are away, when you forget to return a call in a week, they plan a surprise trip to see you in the middle of a week, but only stay for a day…they were not visiting you see, they just came to make sure, you are fine. And relieved they go back in the second class compartment with 36 hrs ahead of them in the same week. While you go back to your busily fun life and friends and share all the hard work of your mom poured in to those laddoos, and namkeens and pooris…very indiscriminately.
And then you are ready for marriage they are thinking, while you are thinking if you want to dump your boyfriend or take him to your parents. And then, the decision is made you feel. You are not sure what the response will be, when you get the phone call to come a little early for December vacations, and somehow, whether it is the boyfriend or the boy from the matrimonial that you marry. When you leave the house, on that day you are overwhelmed at what the marriage will mean for you and what leaving the home and comfort of home will mean…because this time it feels real. And when you see them being extra nice and polite to your husband and his huge family, it annoys you…especially that father who orders everyone around, and you tell him” papa, stop it, be yourself” and he looks at you and he smiles and says” beta, you take care ok…and I don’t care about all this norm-vorm…you should just come back if you don’t like …ok…but beta do try to like and adjust a little”…
And then over the years, even as your partner works hard at being the support you want and being the man in the house, a part of you is always with the man you left behind, the real man of the house, your first support and your continued support and inspiration.
Happy Father’s day! P.S. Also to mom’s who do this as a dual role…alone!