While rummaging through half written drafts, I chanced upon this empty document that finally discovered its window today. The heading was there. The memory that triggered the subject was there. But, the content was waiting to take shape. The seed of thought that triggered this post was a conversation between a mother and a daughter at a function I had attended some years back.
K: “Mum, I am at Mia’s place. We are having a blast! Please don’t tell Dad about this! You know how he reacts if he knew. He will just blow his top!”
K’s mum: “I know! But you better reach here quickly. The function is about to begin. He has started asking where you have sneaked off.”
K: “Ok Mum. Will be back when the function begins. You are an angel, mum! Love ya! Bye!”
Now, I have been raised in a family where transparency was a part and parcel of my growing up, ever since I began to talk and walk. So, when I overheard this conversation (not intentionally though because at the time, this lady was conversing with me), I was amused.
Amused because, I knew the father well, rather very very well. My parents know him well too. He is generous, kind and yes, a tad more protective of his children. His protective nature probably sprung from the fact that he is working abroad while the family has been stationed here. So, he rarely got the regular bonding time with family and hence, he ached to be a part of his children’s lives whenever he managed his leave. And, I know the mother. Raising two children with spouse slogging away in another country is not a cake walk. She has her struggles and issues. I empathized with her. So, while this conversation happened, I looked around trying to distance myself away from the incident. When the call ended, the mother looked at me and sighed, “Oh you know! Fathers are always protective of their daughters. But sometimes, it just goes overboard” I sighed too. But, not for the same reason. She is a good mother. There is no doubt about it. And, her decision in giving the teenage daughter a free hand was not an issue either. But, her role in hiding a truth which the father had every right to know, somehow disturbed me. I felt sorry for the father who was oblivious to his daughter’s proclivities in his absence. Why this incident remained in my head has a good reason. Because, I have a similar incident to share. Something from my life– This incident happened around a decade back. It was around the time I was working with an MNC.
I guess, it was 2008. And, I had made some lovely friends outside the firm I worked in. So, one of these friends had invited me for a sleep over. And so, I had called up my mother to let her know of my plans.
Me: “Mum, L has invited me over to her place. It is a sleep over. I will be back to my room tomorrow evening. So, I thought I will inform you.”
Mum: “Listen. Speak to your father too. Inform him too.”
Me: “Mum! You are kidding, right? I know he is sitting right next to you in the living room and, you both are watching Adalat on Sony. Sure, I will call him. But why can’t you convey the message yourself?”
Mum: “I will give you the reason tomorrow. For now, do as I say. And please, wind up the call fast as we are awaiting the final court scene in the show. You know how I adore Ronit Roy! Now, hang up!” (How Cute!)
But, at that time I was super annoyed. Nevertheless, I called up my father and informed him. Being the cautious father he always is, he added – “Stay in touch. Don’t venture out in the night. It is only a sleep over.” I perfectly knew what he meant in his true Godfather styled words – Please don’t spurt the spikes in my blood pressure by doing something stupid. Dad has always been the cool parent in my home. Yet, when he said something with finality in his tone, no matter how high my rebellious streaks may spike, deep down within I was guided by my conscience to concur with him. So me being me, the notorious kid, I promised that I was going to call him up once every two hours through the night (which was my way of troubling him). To which, he replied – “Please don’t bother! We are not owls like you!” So, you see how dad and I speak with each other. The three of us have absolutely nothing to hide from each other ever since I flew from the nest.
The next day, when I reached back home I asked my mum, “What was that?” Mum took her time to answer. But when she said, it reinforced my faith, respect and pride in the parenting ways of Mum and Dad.
“Narayani, listen carefully to what I say. When a child is born, people raise motherhood to a high pedestal. Although the mother is often taken for granted by the spouse, children, society and everything around her, she still holds a formidable position in a child’s place that none can ever take. But, there is a BUT. If a mother is considered angel, a father is no less! See, your father and I may have disagreed on a zillion things under the Sun. We may have fought endlessly over trivial matters. Sometimes, we have been angry with each other, very angry. But, there is one thing we have never done to each other and, will never ever do to each other. And that is, keeping secrets from each other! I simply cannot hide anything from your father. Not because, he expects me to but because, I trust him, his judgment and, his decisions. When you are life partners, you share. You don’t demarcate on anything. Even if sharing results in arguments and fights, you still hold each other with love and respect because, deep down you know – You have not hurt your partner by hiding a truth with a lie. And, when it is about a child i.e you, your father’s position in your life is as great as mine. Rather, I will place his position a bit higher too. Because, he has spent less time with you as compared to me. Besides, while you have had your share of errors to your credit, it is he who handled your confusion with élan. I was the one who went berserk, remember? Fathers only appear strict, darling. In the Inside, they are mushier than mothers. And, when they are strict, they are always for the right reasons. So, never ever keep any secret from either of us. Make sure, we never have to find out something about you from each other! No, I will never ever accept that. Tomorrow, when you become a mother, you must ensure that your child adores the father as much as he adores you. Believe me, that is the secret of a happy married life with fights included. Just Remember this!”
And by the roll of dice by destiny, I married the man in olive green who, by the virtue of his profession spends lesser time with us than the regular dads. And it is at this time, I remembered my mother’s words with more conviction. Ironically, hubby in personality is a subtler version of his father in law, who believes in absolute partnership. (On a lighter note, I am yet to convince hubby that he has an equal partnership in housekeeping. He somehow goes deaf when I take up the subject just the way I go deaf when he asks – “Aaj khaane me kya bana hai?“) Too much, no? 😛
Jokes apart, it is strange how fathers are perceived in general. And somewhere, I am convinced that the mothers have a significant role in how fathers are portrayed in front of children. In the case I have mentioned above, the girl may have been the quintessential Daddy’s girl in the sense, every materialistic desire of hers was satiated because the father is earning well enough to provide the family with an ultra luxurious life. But then, why the secrets?
It is sad that children need fathers and mothers to raise them with a lavish lifestyle but, refuse to share the snippets of their lives with them, assuming that it would lead to arguments and curfew. Why, the assumption? Speak out frankly. If a mother acts on the daughter’s whim by keeping the father in the dark, what is the position of the father in the life of his children? Even if the father is strict, why cannot the mother attempt to open the channel of communication between the father and the daughter? If first time is a failure, try again. After all, a child is not exclusively the mother’s product. The genetic sequence gets the second X or Y chromosome from the father, remember?
I have often wondered what that father must be feeling, being kept in dark about the activities of his children, who mean the world to him. And, you know what is the intolerable cruelty here – The father perhaps knows everything and, cannot do much because he is the ‘misunderstood’ guy. Geez! That must hurt like hell!
A note for children of today –
If there are two people who would move mountains for you, swim the deepest oceans for you and, break the skies for you, they got to be your parents. Even if you lose trust in yourself, trust them. Life may not seem fun instantly. But, trusting them with your life will ensure you a lifetime of fun, love and happiness that will stay with you forever!