"What's the use of me staying in a flat, when you always stay with relatives when visiting Delhi???"
''Staying with you means loss of time.... everything is so far from our place... and am coming for business... not pleasure!''
"Fine... go wherever you want... why will you listen to me? Anyways, let me know when you reach Delhi.... take care... bye."
And so ends the conversation. And this is so usual whenever Dad is visiting Delhi. He prefers to put up with relatives in Old Delhi... something that I naturally don't like! And that's something I hate about having a business family background.... Dad never has time for me! But I guess, even those with their parents in service would have similar views :(.
And then, as usual, he would ask my brother, Ankit, to inform me when they'll reach home. And as usual, he does decide to stay with me and of course, his ego never allows him to call me and tell me that! My dad, I tell you!
But it's always been like that between me and him. It's a special bond that only we two understand. Like any father, he always expected the most from his first child and in this case, it was me :(. I remember hiding my test copies from him as even 19/20 was never good enough; so when he asked me if I wanted to study in a boarding, I readily agreed! Why not... Dad wouldn't be there to see my marks! And then, he ensured that I never got anything that easy! In fact, I was made to earn it. So if I wanted that doll with the pink bag, I had to achieve a certain position in class! My first skates were the prize for getting through my boarding school's entrance exam and my first basketball was the reward for winning a competition! He always wanted me to be there... on the very top... ahead of everyone.... while I always feared that I might fail him!
After Mumma, Dad changed but little did his zeal diminish..... his zeal to see me excel in everything. He was never so strict with Shivani and Ankit and I felt trapped... amidst his expectations, hopes and dreams. But yes, never did he push his decisions on me. I was free to decide which subjects I wanted to study, how I wanted to shape my career, where I wanted to pursue my studies and I know he'll not question me even once when I tell him about the guy I'd want to marry! Though he was taken aback with my decision to work in Delhi.... who-so-ever has heard of a girl working in our entire family! But Dad has always been the one to define the norms and not simply follow them. After all, he sent his daughters to a boarding school and not his son, and now when his daughter wanted to work away from home, he was all there for her. He told my uncles, 'I've brought her up that way... After all, I want to see her independent and take her decisions for herself. ' I still admire the kind of confidence these words of his ... not in me, but his upbringing.
Staying in a city not your own, working, and then making decisions that seemed so trivial with Dad around, was not an easy task. There were occasions when I broke down on a call with him and told him that I wanted to return home. All he says then is - 'No worries... ghar aa jaao... business dekho... par khush raho; aur yeh sab toh chalta hi rahega... bhaago nahi, saamna karo.'
True that he's not my idol, but he is a source of my strength. In those times when I want to give up, it's his words that make me go on. I don't share everything with him, but even then, I know that he trusts me completely. A typical businessman, he will only talk business, as for him, a general conversation is loss of time (n I hate that!). At times I wonder, who does he love more - his business or us! Shivani says it's his business, Ankit says it's his work... but Dad had once said - he loves me the most :))), and I boast of this even after 11 years of him having said that
Completely at a loss of words when it comes to expressing himself, Dad is a vulnerable sweetheart! We dread his anger, but as all children, know how to work around it! And he would never let me hug him! And he'd never look into the camera when clicking a picture! (You'll know what I mean when you see this picture :) )
And once when, he said, "It's not a small thing to stay alone, work away from home and establish yourself, especially for a girl and I feel proud of all that you've done," I knew I've not let him down. The spark in my father's eyes told me that he does loves me the most and even though he'd never say it, I know that we mean the world to him!
I love you Dad, for all that you are and for making me what I am today and most importantly, for being my father!