Tomorrow is Father’s Day and I write this to explore what am I able to feel for this day. I wonder what’s more painful, not having a father or having one and not having any relation with him.
June 21, 1986, my mother died in childbirth, leaving behind the tiny me in the wrinkled hands of her mother, my nani. She waited days, and then weeks, for my father to come pick me up, but he didn’t. Four months later, dad remarried.
Nani brought me up. Our home had two women, fifty years apart in age. There was occasional communication from dad’s end but as years passed by, it became more and more insignificant. What I understand as hardships now was way of life back then. Nani worked as a caretaker for babies to be able to care for us. The hand-me-down clothes that my stepmother would send on festivals were the only ‘gifts’ we knew. I never knew what it feels like to be pampered, spoiled or surprised with presents from parents – those little material things that hold loads of love.
My schooling was funded by charitable trusts and later with scholarships. I craved love and attention… I saw my friends being accompanied by their fathers on their first day of college, guiding them at the start of their careers, sweetly attempting to bridge the generation gap through their friendly chats. I can only imagine the warmth of this fatherly shelter, never feel it. It is still difficult to explain that I know a large part of my life was missing but I can’t feel the loss, never having had it.
As a teenager, I grew up with insecurities and fear. There were so many new things I was experiencing but not communicating. It was an internal struggle which left deep gaps in the personality that was taking shape. My first reaction to things were of fear, doubt and negativity. I suffered from low self esteem, depression, anger, anxiety… and when I look back, I feel at some crossroads of life, I could’ve taken an irreparable, dangerous turn.
But I am grateful for my nani and my education – the two formed the foundation of my life. Even in the most vulnerable situations, they gave me the wisdom and strength to make the right decisions. Our life took a happy turn. I was working, earning and able to afford a good, comfortable life. We rented a nice home, bought a car, hired a caretaker for nani.
I married a wonderful man who spoils me and loves nani like she is his own. As I look back, I want to hug my 4-year-old self and tell her life is going to be good. And I look forward to experience a happy childhood with children of my own.