It was an afternoon in spring when I met him for the first time in my life. The stork had just left me at his doorstep in the company of the most wonderful woman in the world. Nevertheless, I was apprehensive for I still had never had a glimpse of him. Sure enough I had heard his voice several times in the past nine months.  But I was nervous as I would be setting my eyes upon him for the very first time. Lost in thought, as I looked meekly around, I saw him approach. A tall man, almost six feet high, thin with gentle eyes; yes that’s what he looked like. And he had that beard which I still associate with him. Yes, he stood there; a tall, handsome and kind hearted man looking at me dotingly. At that very moment I realised that he would be my safe haven, my refuge, in this big bad world. It was love at first sight; I saw him and knew at that very instant that our bond was meant to be everlasting! That’s where my rapport was formed with the greatest and the best man to have ever walked this world; my father, my Baba!

It is true when they say that a girl’s hero is always her father; infallible and strong. Form the first day in the hospital till this very moment as I write this post, I feel blessed that I have had him as my father! From new beautiful frilly frocks almost every other day when I was a baby to fulfilling my every whim in the years to come, he did it all. From shedding silent tears when I couldn’t take part in a dance competition , due to him being sick, to flying in the most inclement weather to get to a ‘burnt me’ in the hospital; he has never shirked from doing it all. When I fell in love, he accepted the man I chose and never once made me feel small! Yes, he is the best father in the world! Sometimes I wonder if it must have been the good karma from my past life that I got to be his daughter in this. A charmed life, shielded from all the banalities and brutalities of this world; yes that’s what he gave me and more.  And that’s not all, the independence that I enjoy today and my beliefs are a silhouette of him too.

It is ironic but true that in our country becoming a father is easier, than being one. I, however, am one of those lucky ones for I have seen him being a father every day of his life, and he has done it brilliantly with élan! It is scary but true that there are fathers in India who want their daughters to be only groomed for the chores in the kitchen. Or to put it bluntly, majority of fathers in India have the sole aim of ensuring that their daughters fare well in the marriage market. Well I’m glad my father is not one of them! Baba has always been different in that respect. Kitchen, knitting and marriage were not on his to-do list for his daughters and still aren’t. He wanted me to soar high and live a free-spirited life that I’d choose, not one warranted by anyone else. Well I guess the fiercely independent spirit in me is a gift from him, which by the way I still guard with feverish intensity!

There are a lot of diktats that meddle in the affairs of a father-daughter relationship especially in a society like ours. One example would be when they say that ‘once a daughter is married, she doesn’t belong to her father’s house’. In my view it is absolutely preposterous! There is a ritual in Bengali weddings during kanyadaan (which by the way is an annoying concept in my view) when the father and the bride have to pull apart and break a bundle of straw. It is believed that’s when the daughter is “officially” out of her father’s family and becomes a part of her husband’s.  I always hated that ritual! Infact during my wedding I performed it in the most lacklustre manner possible. Yes, I had decided that no damn straw in this world would snatch me away from my father and I stuck to it!  Yes, I would forever be my father’s little daughter and nothing in this world could ever take that away from me!

Holding me in his arms,
Promised me love!
Taking me by my hand,
Taught me to walk!        
Shielding me from harm,
Always kept me calm!
The greatest man I know,
My father, and to him my life I owe!

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