I remember the film “Father of the Bride” from the 90’s which showed the attempts of a father of a girl trying to come to terms with the fact that his baby girl was grown up enough to get married, but just couldn’t let go! Steve Martin did such a wonderful job as the father torn between his love for his daughter, and the duty of welcoming her beau into the family. Not liking him at all, because he would “take away his daughter from him, yet going all out to make sure his daughter had a perfect, fairytale wedding!!
My generation grew up in an India where there was no concept of celebrating various “days”, of proclaiming one’s love on FB or other social media or scripting emotional, heart-rending advertisements ( mostly of life insurance schemes) on television to show how much people care for each other as a family! There was hardly any kind of physical affection between grown-up children and fathers; in fact I don’t even remember a picture of me and my dad together!! A pat on the back or a loving glance was all that we got as appreciation – anything more than that would’ve made fathers as well as children extremely awkward!! When I now see my kids and their father – what a sea change it is! Different times, different ways – more open, more assertive and more demanding too today, I feel these relationships are! My daughters feel mighty offended if their dad doesn’t go to their room to kiss them goodnight, our father would have balked at any such show of affection!!
But the affection was there, of course! By heaps!! And when there is a designated day to celebrate that, the memories all come flooding in!!
It always puzzles me – a mother’s love is always celebrated – odes are written to it and it is the topic of so many stories, books, films! A father’s silent love, on the other hand, is like an unsung hero – no less important, but without the celebrity status! A very poignant episode I remember in this connection is of a tragedy which happened many years ago. A 22-year-old passed away, the only child of his parents, and not due to some illness, but due to a natural calamity. There cannot be a more heart-breaking thing than to see your child go before you. There were people all around, of course, family and friends, to help them through this tragedy, but the talk was mostly of how the mother was going to cope. And the father just sat in his chair in the balcony, evening after evening, not saying much, not crying, just silently pondering, coming to terms and trying to bravely soldier on!
Divorced couples mulling the issue of custody? Most of the times the mothers get custody, of course! My heart goes out to the fathers in some cases – just because they can’t express themselves, does not mean they love any less!
In a way I welcome the celebration of these kind of days then. It gives an opportunity for the fathers as well as the children to be more open and expressive about their affection. It shows the children that fathers are not only the strong superheroes that come to rescue when needed. That fathers are sensitive, can see and feel and appreciate the little things that matter to the children. That they are capable of feeding, changing diapers, going to the zoo and cooking for them – just like moms do! That they also need to cry at times and hug and be loved and that these are not signs of weakness, but of being human! That dads are not about discipline all the time but about fun too! Above all, they are not a “novelty item” in the child’s life, but another hands-on person, who is as capable ( if they want to!!) of taking good care of the children as the mothers!
Kudos to all such fathers on Father’s Day!!