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A father recounts how his little girl, who would once cling to him, is now a young independent woman.
My elder daughter called me the other day to announce that she had decided not to get married. At thirty, she has a life of her own. She works hard, parties hard, earns well and travels the world. Her education and career have been a dream run, and she is settled in the city of her dreams, London.
My wife is tired of finding matches for her – she has tried cajoling, demanding grandchildren, visiting matrimonial websites, and whatever else she could think of, but finally came around to my view that our daughter needs to decide for herself whether she marries or not.
A friend of mine was aghast. Doesn’t your daughter want to settle down? Don’t you want her to settle down? It took a lot of my time to make him understand that she is settled – and happy – and that she decides for herself what direction her life should take. We as parents are there to support her in whatever her life choices are; we are guides, not arbitrators of her decisions.
I remembered the day I had taken her little hand in mine and took her to school for the first time.
Every time she comes to India, (twice a year usually) – we are at the airport to receive her and to send her off. One day, she categorically told me that I should not be at the airport at unearthly hours and that she is quite capable of traveling on her own, but to me it was unthinkable; I remembered the day I had taken her little hand in mine and taken her to school for the first time. She had wrapped herself around my legs refusing to enter the school and I had gently wiped away her tears and sent her into the hitherto unknown world of schools and education and learning.
“Dad, I travel in and out of Heathrow and Gatwick ever so often, I have grown up!”
Another time, “Dad, I am going to Bucharest next week.”
I, the concerned father, “But you have just returned from New York!”
“But dad, that was a month ago and don’t you ask me how much I spend on travel!”
I had gotten into the habit of asking her what she spends on flight tickets and my mind would instantly convert Great Britain Pounds into Indian Rupees and it would take me time to get over the horror!
“Dad, I am sending you some money.”
“But sweetheart, I don’t need any.”
“Never mind, I am still sending some.”
“What will I do with it?”
I remembered the times I would thrust a ten rupee note into her little hands every now and then so she could buy a chocolate at school.
“Dad, have you had your health checkup done?”
“I will next week.”
“Dad, don’t say next week every time I call you. Get it done right away.”
I remembered the time she was ten years old and had meningitis. I had sat on the chair outside the ICU and wept through the night.
“Dad, next time mom is in London I am taking her to Paris as well.”
“OK, but don’t overspend.”
“You leave that to me, dad.”
I remembered the time we had gone to Nainital on a holiday and she had looked at the lake and the hills with wide-eyed awe.
My little girl is now a woman with a mind of her own. She is the adult and I am the child. She is the Independent Woman.
What more can I ask for as a father?
Father and daughter’s image via Shutterstock
I am a former bureaucrat, and have worked a lot on gender issues, disaster management
Lovely post and very touching! Any grown up girl with a supportive dad will connect to this story… thank you for putting words to the relationship of so many fathers and daughter’s out there!!
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