He's gone for the week. After the 11 days I spent with only him around, it seems strange without having him about the house, sleeping, or checking the stock market. Or playing carom.
Dad's not the normal 9-to-5 dad. He's the kinda dad who has to run off to do his job when they call him. Dad's not a normal person either. He's way too straight to be entirely human. Of course, he’s got his short comings. Like his temper, or his obstinacy. And then, also his detachment from all of us. He has this lousy temper, the one you get when you don’t have things going the way you want them to. It comes from his habit of having to live alone. He wants everything to fall in place; like how it does in the hotels he stays in abroad. He lives his own life, sometimes like we don’t exist. You could say that if he were to be marooned on some island, he would have live pretty happily there too, provided you give him the stock market updates. He likes his work done on time. No, he’s not the world’s most punctual person. He’s rather laidback for that. Expects everyone else to help him keep up with his self-inflicted busy timetable. Dad loves having everything go his way. Sometimes I ask, why start a family if you can’t live with it, if you can’t tolerate it?
Sometimes I have the answer.
Dad’s got his own life. And even if we don’t like the way it is, we’re the most important part of it. Or maybe I should relate my side of my dad’s story.
I’ve been his favourite possession since the earliest time I can remember. The house is filled with my photos. He remembers the smell of my baby cheeks. He also remembers how pudgy I was, and how probably I wont ever have a shape, because of all the chubby fat I’ve accumulated with him. He can remember the smallest things I said as a 2 year old. He was the one to make me speak my first English. He remembers the toys I had, my attachment to them. The silly mistakes I used to make when I first started speaking English. The words I used to jumble, or pronounce horribly. The times I would cry, and the reasons. The way I could never let my chocolates go to a cousin, even in a maths sum. How mum would have to clean up after I used the ‘dal’ in my food as a body lotion. The songs I used to sing. The wrong lyrics. My favourite actors. The time I could eat a dozen bananas as a 2 year old. How I could point out 57 countries on the globe by my second birthday. How I used to cry when dad left for a flight, and how I used to shy away from meeting him when he was back. How all I used to ask him when he used to be back from a flight was whether he’d bought food for me. How I puked all over my front sometime in the nursery. How I stood first for the first time in the terminal exam in the first standard. How I used to read books, and started on novels. How I used to sit on the tank behind the building, planning that farm we dreamt of, and finally bought a year later.
Dad isn’t the normal dad who brings home lots of chocolates, and treats his kids with big holidays in compensation for the rest of the year. Whatever my dad does for me, he did it only if he felt I deserved it. I don’t get rewards for doing stuff I’m supposed to. Dad knows when to separate duty from right. Dad knows when he’s needed. Like the times I’ve had to be dropped to school, even after the school bus facility started. He dropped me to school for the first 8 years. For the times he’s been around when I fell sick in school and needed him to pick me up. He never let me get late, always there. He always reasoned with me.
My demands grew as did I. he’d never shake from his idea of whether I deserved something or not. It’s probably thanks to him that I can negotiate so well on anything. Reasoning and convincing comes from his blood. He’s had to relent, stay firm, say no, and yell. But never has he ever raised a hand on me. Despite of the fact that I grew to be a stubborn brat, in certain matters only, dad’s made sure I never got everything I wanted. He’s taught me how to value something I don’t have, because there’re a lot of things I could do without that I can’t live without now. Dad let me be me, let me have the independence a majority of kids don’t get. He’d never yell about rotten marks, when I got them that is, he’d yell about the lack of effort. He’d never yell about not excelling, he’d yell about not continuing to learn.
People often idolise their parents, so do I. I’ve learnt a lot from mum, she’s the one who influences my life the most. Dad comes second, but I always see a significant portion of him in me, when we’d rather be left alone, when we want work to be done, when our chin gets set upon doing something with a deadline, when I get a Mallu accent when I’m excited. I see my dad in me when I lose my temper, when I can’t seem to calm myself down. I see him in me when I crack the most horrible jokes, and land up being the only one laughing. My mum has a sense of humour, dad’s the one who can make things funny, make the situation lighter. Dad’s the pillar, mum’s the balance.
We hardly talk when we’re angry, because we’re the most combustible substance after butane. We need our space, not just when we’re upset, also when we ask for it. We can’t take a ‘no’ too easily. We live in our own world. Dad’s the one who can talk to me about any thing, even stuff mum shies away from. He’s the one who tells me he’d hate having grandkids with Sreesanth’s nose, or Rannvijay’s hair. He’s the one who can share the weirdest jokes with me.
I know he can’t live without me, even if he doesn’t say so. He’ll always carry a set of the family photos with him wherever he goes. He’d rather spend time photographing birds with me than watching movies with my brother.
Sometimes, I miss having him around. He takes the security that nothing will go wrong with him. He takes that feeling that I’m-your-dad-I’ll-be-there away with him.
I’ll never be able to tell him this, but I have to. I love my dad. Not for his shortcomings, not for his strength, not for the pocket money he gives me, not for the memories he holds of my childhood. For the reason that he’s my dad, and that I’m daddy’s girl.