I don’t remember much about my father from my childhood days, owing to his having gone abroad for work shortly after marriage. As a result, I found it difficult to connect with him on an emotional level right from my early days. Recent studies from the University of Canterbury and Vanderbilt University show that fathers provide unique benefits to their daughters through their active and positive presence from the time of birth through adulthood. This, however, had always been news to me.
The Peculiar Nature
My father is what people call a ‘peculiar gentleman’. “You are under military rule now, aren’t you?” my cousins used to tease me whenever Father came back to India for vacation. He didn’t approve people laughing too loud or children being too noisy. When he was around, everything had to be in perfect order. Dinner had to be served at 8 PM sharp. I was told off countless times for having dirty fingernails. In the twenty years of my life, I don’t think we ever exchanged any words of love. I got used to the fact that I wasn’t to expect a wish from Father on birthdays. All was attributed to his ‘peculiar nature’.
When it Started to Prick
I whiled much of my fee time away at my best friend’s house, where I perceived the warm rapport she shared with her father. It felt strange at first which quickly grew to innocent jealousy. When I brought the subject up in a light conversation, she said, “What’s so strange about it? Daughters are close to their dads and sons to their mums. It’s kind of a universal fact.” I was at a loss for words. I believe that was what made me put my foot down and resolve to do something about our relationship.
I distinctly recall that it had been Father’s Day when I walked quietly up to him with a hand-made card. I’d enclosed a letter inside as I was sure I won’t be able to spell out my views verbally. Always terrified of speaking openly with my father, I watched him nervously as he perused the letter. Finally he put it down and held out his arms. We embraced and I cried. There were no words exchanged. That night he crept into my room and kissed me on the forehead.
It is now three years since that day. My father still shouts at me for unchecked laughter and dirty fingernails but there is a certain warmth that was absent earlier. I realized that people are born with typical natures and there isn’t much you can do to alter them. They have their own way of expressing emotions. Father loves me as much as anyone. He just doesn’t make it so evident.
Relationships, especially amongst family members, are extremely precious. In order to avoid stresses, what you need to do simply is talk. Do not let inhibitions take a toll on personal relationships.