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Saturday, 10 September 2016

My Father

When I was a little girl, my father scared me. Everything about him seemed big. His voice, his muscles, his ability to take charge, navigate us around the globe, scale ropes, arm over arm, leg over leg at an incredible speed, do push ups with me perched on his back. Around him, I shrank. It was my mother's dupatta that I knotted around my finger. But with time, my relationship with both parents has evolved.
I no longer fear my father or cling to my mother. I hope. :)
Last week was a big week for me. On Tuesday, I met my publisher for the first time and being the neurotic idiot that I am, spent an hour making an ass of myself, but for the first time in forever, I felt someone understood me. I told her of the book I am working on and instead of just nodding her head the way everyone does, she actually got it and verbalized my thoughts on what I am trying to achieve with my present writing. My heart sang all day and all night, and then the next morning, my mother called to say that my father was in hospital.
I don't how the next couple days passed. It is all a whirl. All I know is that seeing him laying in that hospital bed, my big father seemed not so scary. I loved tucking him in with warm blankets after his angiography. I loved that he held my hand when walking the hospital corridors. I loved that he asked me for water when thirsty. I know that it is selfish but I loved that he allowed me to do these small things for him. It made me happy to be useful to him in however small a fashion.
The time at the hospital felt like incarceration. I knew he was not happy being there and therefore, I was not happy being there. Hospitals are not designed with happiness in mind. It was harrowing, exhausting, but despite it all, it also gave me something. It gave me the opportunity to interact with my father in a manner that normal life does not allow for. I got to spend time with him. Time alone and without distractions. The worry, his health caused, stripped away the guards he and I both wear. And now, I have beautiful memories of holding his hand and tying bows on his hospital gown.
When I was a little girl, he would carry me up seven flights of stairs to our seventh floor apartment in Beijing, China (the building management turned off the elevators after ten at night), knowing fully well that I was faking sleep. I loved him then and I love him now, just in different and better ways.
People say that love is an impermanent thing. This is true. It does change. It grows and evolves, changing constantly to become a different version of itself. As a child I admired my father's strength. It was a childish love. As an adult, I admire his tenderness, his strength in sharing his weakness, and it makes me love him even more.