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All that girls usually expect from their parents is nothing but love and respect. Here is a touching story of a daughter and her father who rediscovered their respect for each other.
“Our little girl is all grown up. It’s her marriage already!” chimed my aunt. It was the day of the Haldi and our small home was decorated with marigold. These yellow flowers are magical, they can transform any place to look all festive and happy. Ours is a big family, no actually, a humongous family. The entire house seemed to have erupted with laughter and people. It made me all warm and happy, having everyone I loved near me.
I wondered if this is why marriages are so big in India. The one time, you have all the family under one roof and the energies are super high, bringing everyone closer. I hugged my aunt. I was to marry the love of my life in 3 days and was so glad my entire family was going to be a part of it.
My parents are somehow not seen around. I tried to find them in the crowd, as people smeared haldi as though I was a wall they had to paint on. I couldn’t find amma, but could hear her gushing to her sisters. It made me smile, how my getting married made her so happy. Maybe I should do it again and again to make her happy. I made a mental note to remember this and say it out loud to her. Oh! How much I loved irritating her.
There, there’s Baba. “Baba” I call out, so he could make me look even more scarier, than I was already, with a little more haldi. But his expression choked my words. Something was wrong I could tell. Anxiety, fear and worry caught hold of me and I wished this ceremony would get over soon, so I could go over and make Baba smile again. I felt a handful of haldi hit my face, it was my little brother expressing his love. Fighting, shouting and laughing with him, I forgot that I had to speak to Baba.
With the hand painted in mehendi, mother feeding me dinner and fiancé on a video call, I felt like I was the most loved person in the entire world. Love rushed and engulfed me, as my cousin sisters ran around packing my clothes and doing things for me. How lucky was I? To have these many love me unconditionally. It felt all warm and happy.
“Radha, Radha, come down soon!” shouted Baba in a panicky voice. We all froze for a minute hearing his tone. Amma stood up, turned around and said, “Don’t worry girls! You know uncle. He’s always in tension.” She pecked on my cheek and whispered, “Don’t worry darling, everything is alright. Now smile!” I smiled and got back to talking to the ‘to be husband’, Ajay. But the worry lingers in my mind. Everyone was just sitting around and chatting. I started to feel sleepy, so saying bye to my fiancé, I went looking for Amma and Baba to say good night.
With mehendi filled hands and an urgency to pee, I ran to my parents’ room. As I was trying to push the door open with my back, I heard, “But Radha, she is diabetic. We are lucky, the boy’s family accepted her. We have to agree to their demands.”
I stopped short. It felt like somebody had punched me hard in the gut and I could breathe no more. Tears threatened to burst out. I bit my hand and ran to the terrace. It was as though a dam had opened, I cried like a little girl who had lost everything in her life. My throat and chest hurt, it felt like I was a failure and didn’t want the wedding any more. I had everyone who was happy and loved me, but Baba thinking so made everything else invalid.
“What happened baccha?” asked my father, as he rushed to hold me. I ended up crying even more. His worry heightened, as he asked me all possible questions. “Did Ajay or his parents say something? Do they want anything? Do I need to buy them something? Is the marriage still on?” The more questions he asked, the more I sunk to the floor.
“Baba, don’t you love me?” I asked in between my sobs. It shocked him and he said, “Beta, I am doing all this for you only right?” It astonished me that he was putting me down and at the same time felt he was doing it all for me. I realised that I had to speak out. It was time. He needed to know, to see, to realize. Wiping my eyes, I stood up.
Walking around the terrace, I mulled over how best I could put this in words. “Beta, please tell me what is happening?” asked Baba anxiously.
“Baba, Are you proud of me?” I initiated. “Of Course, I am” said he without a second thought and with much confidence and love. “Why are you proud of me?” I continued. “You are the first person in our family to go abroad to study. The first one to be doing Ph D. You have lived most of your life in hostel and away from us, but managed to do well. You have travelled to Japan on conference and have opportunities waiting in various countries. Why won’t I be proud of you? You are going to be the first scientist in our family too. I am extremely proud to be your father.” He said without taking a breathe.
I looked at him, searching in his eyes. “Then why baba you equate me with just the diabetes that I have? Don’t you think I am accomplished and a smart woman who, Ajay should be lucky to be marrying? Why do you need to feel inferior and agree to everything, just because I have diabetes? When he, the person am marrying doesn’t feel he’s doing a favour to me, then why does my own father feel that he and his family are doing me a favour by accepting me?”
Baba looked stunned and I could see tears trickling down his face. It hurt me, but I pushed, “Baba, don’t you love me? Don’t you think I deserve love?” Baba sobbed like a small boy. I rushed to hug him. We held each other for a long time. He struggled to talk, but he held my hands and said “I just wanted you to be happy Beta without any trouble. I love you more than my life. I am sorry I made you feel this way.”
In between my tears, I said “Baba, you need to believe that I am good enough and deserve everything. If you, being my father feels insecure, how will anybody else ever respect me and love me for who I am?”
As my father held my hand to his chest, he said, “I cherish you my dear one. You are right! Waise bhi, only the sweetest ones have diabetes you know? Like you and me. Ajay is definitely very lucky.”
That day, we built a new relationship, Baba and I. That of friends who loved, respected and understood each other.
Image source Unsplash
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