Today I realized a truth. A very bitter truth. That my darling daughter has grown up.
She likes to boss me around. Right now, she is cleaning up my desk. “Papa, you keep your desk so dirty,” she said. “Let me clean it up.” I refused, for fear that my official work papers would be disturbed. But does she ever take no for an answer? An argument ensued, like the countless arguements that take place between us every day and, of course, she won. Perhaps she inherited this trait from her mother, Rashmi.
Today morning, she was standing in front of me as soon as I opened my eyes. God knows for how long she had been standing there. She handed me a parcel, wrapped in silver wrapping paper. “Many many happy returns of the day, Papa,” she said. She was after me till I opened it. Soon it became a fun exercise, with her mom also joining in. This girl sure knows how to make someone’s day! She gifted me a photo frame with 5 photos in it. The photograph in the centre was that of me and Rashmi, from our wedding. The other 4 photos were of herself – our only dear daughter.
The first photo was taken when she was 6 months old. I still remember the day vividly. Rashmi had returned from her parents’ house after delivery just a couple of days ago and this beautiful angel had entered our lives. And life has never been the same since! She had just started sitting and making sounds and I had been tempted to take a snap of her with my SLR. She looks beautiful, like an angel straight out of heaven, in that photo. All chubby and cute.
The second photo was of her when she was in school. In Std. 4, yes. She was in her school uniform and was crying. She didn’t want to go to school, poor thing! Me and Rashmi cajoled her, begged and pleaded, and finally, her royal highness went to school that day. Not before I clicked a photo of her. She looks as if she about to burst into tears at any moment in that snap.
The third one was of her when she was in college. She had had traditional day or some such silly day in her college. Why do they have to have such things in college? Isn’t a college meant only for studies? Well, I made the mistake of asking her that and she gave me a long lecture on that, with high-sounding words like ‘break in monotony’ and ‘diversion’ and ‘increased productivity’. What else could I expect from a student of psychology? She had worn Rashmi’s saree and was looking beautiful. She is so much a younger version of Rashmi. “Papa, photo please?,” she asked me in a tone that only daughters can use when they want to twist their Papas around their little fingers. And I clicked one.
The fourth photograph was a recent one. Of herself in her clinic. I remember that day. I and Rashmi went to her clinic and took her completely by surprise. She was busy counseling patients. I felt so proud of her. I took that picture of her in the clinic.
Isn’t she resourceful? Who would have thought of such a memorable gift for her dad? I will treasure this beautiful gift forever.
As she stood before me today, I realized she has grown up. I don’t know if all fathers think like this, but I still feel she is that little baby who came into my life 25 years ago. The urge to protect her and pamper her is so strong that I sometimes forget she is 25 now. Very grown up, very mature for her age. My pride, my honour.
Till today, foolish me didn’t realize that it is time to let her go. Time for her to fly away in the wide, wide world. Time for her to create her own nest. How ever will I let her go? But I know, like all fathers of daughters, I have to.
I just hope she always remains happy and brings sunshine to some other home, just as she did in ours. God, I am going to miss her terribly.
Hey, am I crying? OH MY GOD. This macho man, whom every one turns to for courage and advice is crying? Thank God, she did not notice.
“Papa, I am done with your desk. Don’t sit on the bed and write like that. It spoils your eyes, you know? God knows what you keep scribbling in that diary of yours! And have you taken your BP meds? I bet you forgot.”- she calls out to me. There, she is bossing me around again. But I love it all the more now.
Is this confident lady standing before me the same baby that she was? Is this girl who fusses over me the same girl who used to hold my hand in fear when it was dark? Sad it is, but true. I won’t mind it now even if she has disturbed my papers while cleaning my desk.
PS: Dedicated to my darling papa who turned 63 today. Love you papa.