Dear Dad.

Butter chicken and naan,

That’s what my dad would get me,

Every time I excelled at school.

Then he would get me books,

Any and all,

I just had to linger on that shelf.

If I looked at a saree too long,

He would say “pack it”.
I remember I had to choose a third language at school,

He introduced me to “my choices” then,

He said, pick anything,

You have to abide by it.

That sudden responsibility,

And that freedom,

I chose Arabic.

It was brilliant!

Then with time,

There were subtle shifts.

He had a say in who my friends were and what they did,

Nobody was good enough for his little girl.
I wanted to pursue literature,

But engineering was where his heart was set.

Writing wasn’t an actual career.
Then it came to my relationships,

He believed that I was far far far more capable than any I had ever dated,

My dad believed in me so.
Suddenly all the choice that I had with

Food, books, clothes and languages,

Didn’t drip down to

Career, relationships and friendships.
But I had been spoilt for choice.

Unwittingly he had made me believe that I could choose anything,

And if my choice of a third language was a success,

So would my choice of a man or a career.
The more he pushed,

Questioning my choices,

The more I became certain that that was I was meant for.
The more he expected submission,

The more I rebelled.

The more he said,

The more I stopped listening.
Dear Dad,
Every time that you question me or pass a judgement- it makes me feel alone.

It makes me feel that you don’t believe in who you have brought up.

It makes me feel that you believe that I can’t learn from my mistakes.

It makes me sad that that you want to control every nook and cranny, even if from a sense of responsibility and affection.
And it makes me determined to be my own person.

I don’t know who I would have been,

If you hadn’t opposed me at every step.

I don’t know if I would have been this person today,

Who can look the world in the eye and stay strong.
Yet sometimes I hope,

That, anytime, just one time,

That you would be on board,

With what I chose.

Unequivocally so.

Just once.

That’s all.

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