Here is an unusual Women’s Day message of love and gratitude: not to a woman, but to a father who has raised a confident woman!
Women’s Day is celebrated world-wide on March 8th, but it is also my dad’s birthday. This year is super special as Dad celebrates his 80th birthday. It is an extremely proud and happy moment for the entire family, especially for me as I personally get to celebrate this milestone with him. (My two siblings reside in a different country.)
For my siblings and me, our dad is our super-hero. Since my childhood, especially around the time I was 10 years old and could relate to the ad where the young girl proclaims ‘My Daddy strongest’ all the way until now, when he is 80 years young, he shall always be the strongest man for me and I am blessed that God chose me to be his daughter.
My Dad is a completely self-made man. He hails from a small village in Karnataka, did his schooling in his hometown and came to Mumbai to pursue his dreams. At a very young age, he started working and with his intelligence, street-smarts and relentless efforts, worked his way into one of the most reputed organizations in India. He is extremely well read, highly opinionated and very articulate. He epitomizes ‘No gain without pain’ and this policy has helped shape the person he is today. He has a very high sense of duty and responsibility towards his family and is willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of his family’s happiness.
All through our childhood and even until much later, he has been a very strict disciplinarian, always trying to cultivate good habits and values in his children and had high aspirations for his children to be the best. He always wanted his children to excel in everything they did and pushed them hard to achieve it. While we secretly detested him at times for that, today we understand how important that grit and rigour is to succeed and can’t thank him enough for keeping that fire burning within each of us.
Strong fathers raise strong women. This is the best way to describe my Dad’s parenting style, especially in the case of my elder sister and me. We were always given equal opportunity and resources as our brother, and there was never any gender discrimination on any rules or expectations for his daughters versus his son. He is very progressive in his thinking and approach towards raising independent and confident daughters, and that always made us feel empowered and important.
Being the sole earning member of a family of five can be quite a daunting and uphill task, but for my dad, that never came in the way of him being engaged and actively involved in our lives. He was always hands-on with our studies, overall development, extra-curricular activities and he ensured that we had a very healthy diet, were gifted the best clothes on every special occasion and had the best holidays ever.
For a long part of my childhood, my parents must have refrained from buying anything new for themselves, but they always made sure that their children had the best amenities and nourishment essential to raise happy and healthy children. While Dad has always been strict with respect to frivolous splurging and had a tight control on the pocket money allocated to us, there was never a dearth of funds to buy books, pursue sports or any other creative interests and enjoy the best possible holidays. All this has helped my siblings and me to have a very open-minded approach, developed our great taste in food, helped us become independent and do what we believe in, and enabled us to pursue our keen interest for travel and exploring new places.
My dad is an extremely loving and considerate grand-father and has high aspirations for his grand-children to excel in life, with similar zeal and energy that he applied towards his children. Old habits die hard. Unlike most parents of his age, he refuses to let age slow him down and while that does irk me at times, I am highly impressed and inspired to see the way he leads his life, a life of self-respect and dignity, completely living it on his terms. He has always lived life in a very respectful and self-reliant manner and I pray to God to give him the strength and capacity to live this way always.
He firmly believes in ‘Health is Wealth’ and that has been his biggest strength all along. It’s amazing how even at the age of 80, he still thinks he’s barely a day older than 60 and feels highly energized and responsible for his health. He sure does look like a million bucks and shall always be my Harrison Ford. He will do anything to ensure he is always in top form, because it would give him great pain to cause any inconvenience to his children due to his ill-health. It is exceptionally rare for parents to think this way and I respect my Dad for his forthcoming attitude and concern for his family. I urge him to share his learnings and knowledge with other senior citizens, just to enable them to lead a healthy life and age gracefully.
For me, every Women’s Day is a great reminder of how thankful and blessed I am to be my Daddy’s little girl and we certainly need more Haanikarak Bapu’s (Aamir Khan’s character in the movie, Dangal) like him to empower and raise strong women.
Happy Birthday, my dearest Baba and may you always stay healthy, happy and as handsome as you are. I earnestly wish for you to be relaxed and chilled out and enjoy life to the fullest. Please put your Vedanta wisdom into practice and worry less about your children and their children. They are all doing great and they just want you and Mom to lead a happy and peaceful life together. We love you.
Happy Women’s Day and let’s raise a toast to our fathers who made us the women we are today.
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