There are some events which cuts through one’s life, distinctly breaking it off into two parts like a ripe fruit which has just fallen from the tree. Fatherhood is one such before-after event.
The day is bright one, still bearable for this time of the summer, blessed by unseasonal rains yesterday. Nonu, my daughter, otherwise known as Sanskriti, turns seven today. I still go back seven years back this day. The cool, benign hospital room, her mother slept tired, having brought in a new life into this world. The weather was kind that year as well. Sun was bright, splendid, but kinder than the usual harsh summer day of Delhi. Still remember, walking into the nursery, in a small world of tiny kids, yet unknown to this world, walking into it a stranger. They would open their eyes, tired, somewhat unhappy, out of the safe, comforting womb of their mothers and look a while, disenchanted and go back to sleep.
I went around and saw the third bed and the little one there, held a band on her hand which proclaimed her as Baby of Seema Suryesh. Father is still alien, an outsider to the child, an intruder in the cozy world of togetherness, a magical island of charm between the mother and the child. But I walk to you and hold my finger to you and you wrapped your pink, wrinkled palm around that finger. It is as if we had known each other when you were not yet there beyond a dream. I correct myself. We knew each other even when we both did not exist beyond a dream. As if all my life was a wait for this moment when your palm will curl around my finger.
Daughters are marvelous beings. They are the soft music emancipated from the divine worlds to bless the otherwise bleak, unbelieving world we inhabit. I believe, the saddest, most tired and bruised souls get blessed by daughters as if an embarrassed God wanted to compensate us for having a soul which felt more than what mind could understand. I held you that night, and we slept together. I supported your soft head on my palms, and it was as if your little mind spoke to me through my palms. Little did I know that my entire being since will become centered around you.
I have almost surrendered being anything else other than being a father since you walked into my life with uncertain steps. Then came the school, and still remember being first time addressing myself as Father of Sanskriti. My whole identity, crafted and cultivated all my life will melt into this singular identity- Father of Sanskriti.
We will win and lose together and your pain and sorrows will find a resting place in my heart. You are growing and your world expands beyond me. Sometime, a father may lose out to the mother, especially when you go out to buy all pink from the market. You might be amused when I ask you to run, to play, when I frown at you when you wear your mother’s high heels. But that is all about being a father. I know, I can see your world expanding beyond me. I can see my arms grow weaker, my voice grow fainter. You will have to be strong to be able to live without me, as I will live through you, in you.
That’s is the father for you, a little eccentric, a little paranoid. I try not to scare you when I am scared- for you. Your strength as a person will depend upon my ability to pretend strength when I am scared as hell for your well-being. That and a faith of unquestioned love, which stands beyond my need to look well in family, in the society. I have suffered being measured against the social yardsticks, being asked to prove being worthy of love. I will never hold it against you, not ever. I hope when the world wants me to measure you, against someone else, I will remember myself. I will be the one standing beside you, against the whole world, even when I do not understand you, old and ancient that I am. I will not tell you the right from wrong, I will educate you to know that. We all make our own mistakes, I know you too would make your own.
I will not judge you from the mistakes you make, but by how you bounce back from them. You know, child, father is not a person, a body. It is a cloud which walks with you on harsh summer day and it is a warm thought which wraps around you on cruel winters. I will always be that cloud, that thought. You have blessed my being by the first time you called me Baba, and the first time you smiled your first toothless smile when I came back from the office, in a bright yellow shirt and a brighter tie and you looked at me from your rocker. You have already given me much more than I could ask for by being what you are. I must not want anything more. You are not here to fulfil my dreams, I am there to cherish you flights to the sun, big and small. Go my little Angel, go, be brave and gulp the Sun, for you are loved and watched over.