“So fathers be good to your daughters; daughters will love like you do.”

Thursday, August 4, 2005

This is a pretty old post but I figured better late than never.

“So fathers be good to your daughters; daughters will love like you do.”
Ahh How I love John Mayer and his undeniably poetic and soul stirring lyrical talent. Father’s day is around the corner and the wonderful song “daughters” by Mr. Mayer seems to graciously fit the occasion. In case you couldn’t tell this entry is an ode to my father.
I had just started my college life at UMBC and it wasn’t anything that I had expected. Education had taken a backseat to my social life and boys had now become a new hobby. The new found freedom fed me a high that I had never experienced before. I rarely went home over the weekends even though my parents lived about 45 minutes from my school. After all, my whole theory was that I spent 18 years under the wings of my semi conservative parents, so the next 4 years was all about me marking my niche and finding out what makes a partially grown teenager/young adult. Of course this theory didn’t fly too well with my dad who to this day views me as “his little girl”. No, no it does not make sense why his sweet little daughter would choose to spend her weekends away in a tiny dorm room with no home made food or no family surrounding her. His denial of my new evolution made life very difficult for the both of us. So there he was, every Friday evening at 5.00 PM to pick me up and whisk me away to our new house and back into his life where he knew his little girl would be safe. I started lying heavily to avoid this weekend routine because as most young people my age all I wanted to do was party Friday and Saturday nights with friends and then lay in bed Sunday. I would call him Thursday nights and tell him that I had a big exam on Monday which would require me to use some resources at the library. I also started claiming that I had to attend “group” meetings. At that time I failed to notice his disappointing tone: “oh really. Are you sure? Is it something I can help you with…oh I see, it’s too complicated. Well call us every night to tell us your ok and you know if you want to come home anytime over the weekend just let me know. Good luck on studying dear”. Perhaps my selfishness was a good thing in a way. I knew they needed to start letting me go out and make my own mistakes and this was my way of transitioning out into the real world. Anyway I was too busy hungering for male attention from the boys around campus (I now blame this to the schooling at a convent till I was 15!) In November of 98, on my 19th birthday and my first semester away from home, I asked my father if I could stay the weekend on campus so I could go out with my friends. I remember my dad hesitating: “well Anu, your mom and I were hoping to do a family thing for you birthday. Do you think that maybe this weekend you could stay with us at home and then celebrate it with your friends the following weekend?”
And of course I wasn’t to happy with that thought “But dad my birthday is this weekend”
Conversations ensued and in the end I gave in to the authority but not to the lovable dad. He raised his voice in demand and I knew that he meant business. I was angry! How dare he still treat me like a child?? There are boys who are willing to take me on dates and treat me like a queen and here is the one male figure in my life that still treats me like a child. I was sulking the entire weekend. I was determined to teach him a lesson for forcing me to be there and spend time with them. I wanted to let him know that I did not appreciate the gifts and balloons and the cake that he had gotten me for that morning. Because home was not where my heart was at that moment. Finally that Sunday when he was dropping me off to the dorm instead of taking me directly to my room, he drove to the building next to mine. I looked at him and said, “dad, you do realize my building is the one we just passed by right?” and he looked back with a big grin on his face said “Well I wanted you to look into this building.” So we walked towards the new dorm and I saw all my friends in the lobby, with balloons, cakes and presents. And my dad chimed in from behind me “Surprise! Happy birthday!! I wanted to make your first birthday away from home, a surprise!” By now I was surrounded by my friends and we were laughing and chatting away and I took a look back at my family and said “thanks for everything guys…you can go now.” To this day I have not forgotten my dad’s eyes. His smiling face fell, and he was almost…hurt and shocked. I have no idea what was in my head at that moment…Did I have a family overload that weekend? I just didn’t want them and my friends in the same room? Was I ashamed of them? I don’t know. All I know was that I didn’t want them there, mingling with this new group of people who had taken over my life. And all my dad said was “oh. Well have fun. And call us later” and they walked out. Those 2 minutes between my dad and I still gets me teary eyed.
My second year at college also brought along my first heartbreak in love. I was so devastated that I did not want to return to school after my Christmas break. I broke down in tears to my dad who embraced his hurting little girl and wanted to make everything ok for her. I was that same little girl in Nigeria waiting for her dad to come home everyday from work. I was the same little girl with 2 thin braids tied with ribbons, pressing her face against the hot iron gates, ignoring the damned heat just to be the first to catch a glimpse of her father, strolling in with his black bag and funny gait…the same gait that she started imitating. He would smile at his little girl, pick her little brown body up and lovingly yell at her for not wearing shoes. And at the moment everything was alright in the world. The scorching heat or the cars whizzing by didn’t bother us. It was just me and my dad.
During that winter break, I spent quality time with my dad attempting to mend my rebellious moments from the year earlier. It was during that time that I realized that my dad was the only man in my life I could always depend on…well until I met Mr. Right who could match my father’s qualities. Today I look at my dads brown eyes and see a man who is learning how to be a father to a very complicated girl everyday, but loving it! He hates that I don’t ask him for help but he loves that I’m independent. He loves the fact that I am head strong and tell people exactly what I think of them but worries that perhaps I’m too ballsy. I can now appreciate all the sacrifices he has made for his family and hope that I marry a man who is just as dedicated and loving to his family as my father. I adore the way he takes care of my mom by listening to her, helping her in the kitchen, being a devout romantic and making sure she is always comfortable.
It’s going to be very difficult to be happy with any other man who won’t keep me as happy as my father has. I know that it’s a pretty strong statement to make but I’m happy to know that my dad has set the bar so high that any guy in my life will have to work extra hard to achieve my dad’s level. And I’m glad. Thanks dad! I will always be your little girl waiting for you to come home and tell me that everything is alright.

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