For my dad,
And all dads of only daughters
This is no propaganda of ‘Save the girl child’, nor is it any Fathers Day or special day post. For I believe each day should be lived as it comes, and today came with a thought of writing this one. For this is about what happens once you are a dad to an only or more daughters.
Can you see the seesaw in this picture is too big for me? Still I am on it, thanks to the man who is holding me. That’s me – always raring to go and that man is my father. I am the only daughter of my parents. Everyone was very happy the day I was born. My dad never wanted a son instead of me that is for certain but, he might have wanted to raise one- he was a terrific sportsman; if no one asks me to move I can sit in a corner for 24 hours straight. Not that I don’t like sports, I am sportier than most people I grew up with, but yes sitting in the corner with a book or “just thinking” is the preferred activity. He was this rough and tough guy who would get into physical brawls. Now what happens in such a scenario is, daughters are indeed raised like sons -not entirely but yes there is the expectation bit, so is the being independent bit – actually its exactly like a son, until the daughter grows up. Its then that the parents treat her as a daughter. It is confusing sometimes, as by then it’s too late to change who you are.
My first beer was with my dad, so was my first whiskey. It was at our favorite restaurant in Mumbai called Sea View at Juhu. We would talk about everything under the sky. No topic was ever barred. I could talk what I felt; in fact I was prodded to discuss the things I learnt at school and from friends. We have watched a lot of movies together, and would always discuss those at length. I would steal his books and read them, even when I was too young to read those books. I would myself confess in time, like I always do after my mischief's. He would ask me if I even understood the story and I would tell him what I had understood, and then he would tell me, “Now that you have started reading fiction so early, don’t stop reading other stuff.”
I would keep hearing stories about the fights he had gotten into during his college days and hence always asked him to teach me to fight. I remember one such incident where he was teaching me to fist fight; I was about 7 or 8 that time. He pushed me from behind and I dashed into the dressing table. The edge of the mirror pierced through my neck and it started bleeding. It was a minor gash, but the blood made me feel proud. As now, it was a real fight. A real fight has real blood. I went to mom, smiling with pride and told her what happened. She got mad at my father and said, “She is a girl.” He replied, “Which is exactly why she must learn to protect herself.”
Now, I can safely say I can knock down atleast one opponent quite easily. Also, I was beaming ear to ear as I had just experienced what equality felt like. Equality – in its true sense. Yes I was a girl child. And I was being raised to defend a man, if I ever needed to. It made me feel that the world was a good place to live in. Also, this incident was the root of my strong belief today that men and women are equal. There is no need for feminism. All you need to do is learn to defend yourself.
I am both a son and a daughter. As I am all they have. My dad has kicked my ass like anything on so many occasions(figuratively speaking) He has pressurized me like any other father would pressurize his son to be completely independent, earn money, pay his own bills, be self reliant, be able to provide for his children and the rest of all these things that a son hears from his father. He has scolded me like any other father would scold his daughter to not hang out with so-and-so-kind-of-guys, to not act irresponsibly, to act with maturity, to not talk foolishly and so on.
He has always taught me to give my best, has always criticized me and hardly appreciated me. I have been taught to not just learn my math but also understand the history of math and the future it promises. I have been taught to not just sing a song, but also dance on it and to write my own songs. My dad has given me his best, all he could – to a daughter. I can never be enough thankful for that. It’s been hard and unpleasant too at times, but it’s because of him that I am who I am.
To all the fathers with only daughters, I would just say, give her your all. As being happy with a girl child is not enough, you also need to tell her the world is hers like you would tell your son and raise her up to be a fighter.