Everyone is fascinated by superheroes be it Ironman for his strength, Superman for his flying skills and good heartedness, Batman for being the savior or Spiderman for his unique style of jumping across buildings and saving the world. In real life too, we have some superheroes in our lives who do not have their costumes on with the flying robe nor do they fly but they are extraordinarily our superheroes for their supreme sacrifices they have been doing when they take up their roles of being a father (daddy dearest, like I would call). Their sacrifices both big or small go unnoticed by many of us in childhood but when we look back they are definitely worth acknowledging and sharing and are the ones that helped us grow for the better and was all for our happiness as we were their little children.
Sacrifices (both big or small) always go unnoticed. Our superhero Daddys have been very self sacrificing. I have had two fathers in my life – my biological father and my brother who played a fatherly role in my life owing to our gap of 13 years. Let me share their sacrificing stories of their fatherhood which has always been close to my heart.
My Daddy Dearest – I call him ‘Abu’ and to him, I am his sweety Chanu (my pet name which no one else knows or calls me) and when my father calls me ‘Zeba’, I feel very odd, like being called by a stranger (hahaha). We did not bond initially during my birth, as for those who have read my earlier blogs would know that I had been a victim of female infanticide but I was chosen to be born for a good cause (I’m sure). I have witnessed happy fathers at the hospital holding their little newborns but my story was different. We did not bond till the first 3 months of my life and later when we did, just no one could come between our love, not even my mother. My father has been my wonderful companion showering me with so much love that sometimes in his pampering, in our anger and stubbornness, I’ve often forgotten his sacrifices that should have been appreciated and adorned.
When I was 6 years old, my father left home for a job in the Middle East that allowed him to come home only once in 3.5 years. I had bonded with him so much that this distance I feared could kill our love… but I was a part of him, how could our love be killed?. We chose to keep our bonding strong with handwritten letters and phone calls on Sundays. He worked on this job for 10 years altogether until one day when his health deteriorated and he got back home permanently with just the Exit Visa from Saudi Arabia. When I look back, I realized I missed a lot of things with my father, like being dropped or picked up from school, doing homework together , going for a movie or just a walk in the park etc but whenever he was here on his 2.5 months of vacation every 3.5 years, I made sure I caught up with everything I missed from getting picked up from school, going for lunch, eating icecreams and being pampered completely. Sometimes as a kid, I had anger and regret in me that when every friend of mine had their fathers around, I was the one who was never with mine.
When I grew up I realized that he had sacrificed a decade of his life, living all by himself in an unknown country just to earn good amount of money and send over to us timely to keep his wife and us kids safe and financially secure. His biggest sacrifices have been being away from home-being away from us. He never chose this opportunity for the fear of being away from his family but he looked at family circumstances, thought about our future and that is how he took this big step against his wishes. If it hadn’t been for his sacrifices, we would not have been in a good position as we are now, touchwood. My father has had his share of big and small sacrifices too – saving up money and walking long distances (even if it meant to be Rs 2 or Rs 5 of the bus ticket) or not buying new clothes during festivals because he wanted us, his kids to wear new ones and be happy. Getting us every new snack, ice cream or new toys just to make us happy and joyful. He took us for amusement rides to make us happy and when we got back home, he ensured he spent on auto so that his kids would not have to walk like he did.
For me, in my father’s absence, his letters have been the biggest strength ever. Once in 2 months when my dad used to send those letters, they were the most precious gift then which helped me feel all his love, care, pampering and so much more. His letters of 2.5-3 pages odd had two sections – one for my brother and one for me. As a kid, I had complained to him on why he never wrote for mom and his immediate next letters had her section added too. The best part of his letters were his address to us as – To my Dearest honey, sweety, my precious Chanu…. these adjectives gave me all the love that I missed those times in his absence. He would begin asking about school, if i was studying well and if I liked school, if mom was scolding me quite often and also if he wanted to send over toys or anything he would ask what I wanted. I used to read them over and over again everytime I felt low. When I started to read and write, I’m sure my letters were the best gift to my father to show him that I am getting educated. My letters were all that I wanted to tell him – about my studies, my first ranks, appreciations from teachers, becoming class leader to complaining about mom being strict with me and how my brother was taking good care of us in his absence.
In the process of earning money to support my family, my father kept himself secondary, even his health. This showed up on his body because of his increased sugar levels. His legs were swollen, he couldn’t move, he was in such a bad condition back in Saudi that he was sent back home alone on the flight in a wheelchair. No one accompanied him. My brother picked him up from the Mumbai airport and got him back to Bangalore and got him admitted to the hospital for quick medical assistance. By then I was studying 12th Std. When I reached the hospital, on seeing me he broke down. I was always dearest and closest to his heart. He turned emotional on seeing me and kept telling me that he feared he wouldn’t survive to see me again. My prayers for him wouldn’t have let that happen for sure. With Almighty’s blessings, he got back to good health and began to have a normal home life with us. His extreme selfless love and care for us is always there, he always kept himself secondary. As a good human being, he has been my best idol to follow. He feeds the hungry, helps the poor when he sees them begging on the streets, even when he had little in hand for himself. The joy of giving and appreciating little things in life is what I learnt from him.
My elder brother, my second dad – My brother, elder to me by 13 years took up responsibilities of our home from a real young age. At a time when young boys played gully cricket, kabaddi etc, my brother spent his time assisting my mother stitching ribbons and other small clothes to earn some money. When I was born, he took care of me like I was his little doll. Down the years, he started his college studies along with part time job in the evenings to support our family. At the same time, I began my schooling and my father had left to Saudi Arabia at the same time. My brother was my guardian per my school records, but for me, he was my father. He attended my parent teacher meetings, got me snacks for school, new clothes, pampered me in all the loving ways. He cheered me up when I cried, he took me to amusement parks to enjoy, spent his weekends with me at a time when college friends always went out for trips or parties. His sacrifices have been many,right from the age of 7.
Currently at the age of 40, blessed with 2 loving kids – Ayaan and Muskaan, he has only been able to polish his fatherly skills more effectively. My brother used to be a little moody when I was small, sometimes angry sometimes very quiet. I had to resort to funny ways to get him smiling or laughing. Those days to cheer him up, I used to ensure he watched any comedy show that came on television or any of his favourite songs played on radio, just so that I could lighten up his mood. I was always scared of his anger – though very few times he would burst out but he always made it up with all the sweet pampering he could. Now, as a father I have seen him evolve. The care,love and guidance he gives his children, the weekends he spends with them (without catching up with friends or anybody), playing sports, taking them for movies etc shows how much he loves them with all his heart. My brother loves cricket, cars and food. I have seen how he moved away from these to newer interests of video games,movies and books all for his kids. He also is a multi tasker now handling his corporate job, spending time with kids and assisting his wife in the home library activities she designs. He is an inspiration to me, both professionally and personally. The kind of father, every daughter should have. His bond with his daughter stands out magically and I love that always.
From my superheroes at home to superheroes around the world, there are many facets to them – from their parenting skills to mindset change to being our examples and inspiration, they go a long way.
Fathers have their own styles of parenting skills. Some are strict, some are friendly, some are even single fathers who take care of their children single handedly. Each one has their own ways of giving their best to their children but it is just the mode in which they project their love, that stands out differently. The difference between a strict dad and a friendly one is mainly their hearts, which are like the coconuts filled with love but never projected on the outer until some situations force them to. But when they don’t appreciate does not mean they don’t care. They are definitely proud of your achievements from within and can never stand anybody putting their sons or daughters down at any cost. Our fathers’ sacrifices have been definitely supreme and yet ignored. At a time when they struggled to earn for their families, they never thought of themselves. Right from ensuring good school education for us with new books, new school uniforms, new stationery to helping us get trained in new skills for our hobbies and liking to building up your own home with all the hard earned money, yet remaining very simple at heart with their choices and their attitudes.
Being a father definitely changes a man for good. From being gender stereotyped to allowing your sons and daughters to be treated equally, this is the biggest mindset change they have ever gone through. Our fathers never show ego when it comes to performing some of the household chores (atleast my father or my brother doesn’t). Right from ironing our clothes, to feeding us food and giving us bath or even cooking in the kitchen, they are superheroes in their own ways.
I would like to make a special mention of Vikas Khanna, the famous Indian chef based out of New York. His one life incident helped me look at my parents with more love and care. One of his posts on Instagram mentions – On 31st January 2015, when he became the ambassador of Mercedes Benz,his father congratulated him on the phone and also mentioned how he always wanted to own one but he never shared this desire with him. His words to Vikas were, “You never asked…”. That afternoon, he breathed his last. The biggest lesson Vikas tells us is how we should not wait for a single moment but instead love them, hug them, care for them, ask about their dreams, spoil them and pamper them because our parents would never ask for anything and still give their entire lives to us. His best line was, “We can buy a fleet of cars but we definitely cannot buy time”. Go pamper your fathers, not just on Fathers’ day but everyday. Give them a hug, talk to them with love and care, fulfill their wishes and see them smile everyday. There is no better joy than seeing them happy, after all, our roles get reversed – we were their children when we were born and in their old age they are our children :).
Happy Fathers day to each one and a big salute to all!.