Fathers and daughters – a royal bond. Almost like the queen in a game of chess, standing out from the rest as something intriguing, something powerful, something special.
Looking back, I have many reasons to celebrate my relationship with my baba (father). In so many little or big moments that take turns warming up my heart. Moments that I keep safe in my mind, like a possessive collector. Moments that are majestic only because they are about me and my baba.
Baba, I know you will be one of my first readers here. You have been my most enthusiastic and loyal fan. I am no way near the writer you think me to be. But your encouragement is all I need to take on the world. I have many memories of us together. I am surprised I remember, since memory isn’t my strongest suit. And like you, I am not good with the spoken word. Writing comes more naturally. So today I am going to write some of my most precious memories of us together. Just you and me.
You remember how you could never scold me? I loved taking advantage of that. On the face of it I’d freak out like any typical hormonal teenager but inside, I knew it was only a matter of time before you burst out laughing; an embarrassed, hearty laugh that made you turn red. Then I’d end up laughing. So your laugh invariably saved me from what could have been many ‘go-to-my-room-and-slam-the-door’ incidents.
You have always expressed love in a quirky way. You didn’t give me big hugs or cuddle me as a child. You’d pull my cheeks. Your favorite name for me was fluffy cheeks. The only reaction it got was my sulky pout. Now it only makes me smile. Over the years, cheek pulling transformed into something else. You’d put your finger on my dimpled cheek and give me a slight poke. To this day, this is my favorite ‘hug’.
You’d stop me from overeating or junk-food, not by telling me straight on, but by joking about it or teasing me to a point where I’d feel like banging my head on the wall. You knew me too well because that always did the trick. I guess this bonding isn’t complete until a daughter sulks at something her father says and then expects him to make her feel better.My 20-month old daughter already does that with her dad!
Your love for books and written prowess are two things I will always be proud of. You were the smartest kid in school and college. People wondered how you did it all because you were always playing sports and never studying. I often wondered too. I love calling you a human dictionary. There is not a word you don’t know the meaning of. And the best part is, the only help I got from you was, “Look it up in the dictionary yourself!”. A hereditary trait that I will love torturing my children with.
I remember a trip we took to Murree soon after my graduation. A time when I needed a breather from my life. It was a memorable drive, with blaring loud and annoying Bollywood music that you never told me to turn off. I had time to think about what I was doing, where I was going in my life. Even your silence comforted me, guided me. And by the time mama and my brother joined us, I was as good as new. A couple of months before I got married, I used to go with you for your morning walks. You loved them, still do. That is one of my happiest memories of us together. Another time, during my first pregnancy, I was housebound on doctor’s orders. My mood swings were at an all time high. You again came to the rescue baba. You took me out of home, drove me to a book store and what do you know! I was as good as new.
You taught me to be honest and upright. You taught me to never be impressed by false status or money. But to always be in awe of intelligence and ability. You taught me never to be stingy or unnecessarily worrisome. You taught me to go with the flow and to take it easy. You taught me the power of books. You taught me never to cheat – people, work or your country. You taught me all of this not by lecturing, but by doing.
Remember how you felt for an entire year after I got married? Every time I’d come to visit, you would just look at me with sad eyes. That was the first time I realized how much you missed me. Sitting in the car, waving goodbye, all I remember are your watery eyes and forced smile. One time I even cried on my way back because I saw how much you and mama missed me. And to think I was in the same city! That’s why I never wanted to go away. But you and mama made us apply for immigration. You made us go continents away for our betterment. Your foresight helped us make a great future here. But that doesn’t change that you and mama are sitting so far away from your children and grandchildren.
I miss my special hug. I miss sulking over something you teased me about. I miss your joyous laugh as you greeted your grandchildren with open arms. I miss how you spoiled me all my life and how you now spoil your grandchildren. I miss how you scolded me about junk food and now with your grandchildren you can’t tell the difference. I miss how, after every other week, you came home with a new stash of best sellers. I miss how you’d get upset when I’d make fun of your endless morning sneezes. I miss your laugh when I’d imitate how you read a book before going to bed.
I am glad I wrote all this down. But there is more. Maybe I will keep adding it all here. Nothing like the written word to breathe immortality into a precious memory.
See you soon bopsy!