I would like to thank you for believing in me and supporting me throughout all my endeavours. Growing up in India has always meant dealing with various social barriers and being shamed for almost everything. Amidst all this confusion, you have been the constant pillar of support that kept me going, even on the hardest days, when I felt like giving up on life. Thank you for everything!
Growing up without an actively participating mother was very different from the way I saw my classmates growing up. As our society believes that child-rearing is the ubiquitous job for women – I was constantly bullied and made fun of, throughout primary school and middle school, by my classmates as well as the teachers. Most people felt that I was strange and obnoxious, given that I was rather too quiet and introverted. I never had many friends to confide in. However, you were always there for me.
Although, as a child, I was extremely scared of you because I was not good at maths, which you wanted me to be. After a point in my adolescent life, I knew that you would be there to support me. Thank you for accepting the fact that not everybody is meant to do similar things in life. One of the greatest surprises for me was the day you questioned the GRE assessment system, asking why candidates are required to solve mathematical problems, given that each person has their own area of expertise!
While I was growing up, I started to go out with my friends, exploring the city, visiting new places, going to the movie theatres, and simply hanging out at Victoria Memorial, Nandan, or Maidan. Never have you specifically questioned me about my whereabouts, apart from the questions that are asked out of concern, owing to the fact that we live in a toxic society. This attitude of yours had overwhelmed me because I knew that you trusted me to make the right decisions for myself.
The freedom to choose, which you had granted me, made me a better person in every possible way.
While I saw my friends’ parents frantically calling them, every two hours, you never attempted to impose a curfew on my movements. The private space that we gave each other, and the trust and respect we had for each others’ personal lives – this led to us becoming close friends and confidantes. Thank you, once again, for not making me feel claustrophobic and encaged.
The freedom to choose, which you had granted me, made me a better person in every possible way. This freedom allowed me to be by myself, wherein I learned to make important decisions in life. Instead of being overprotective and overbearing, you let me unravel the ways of living. This definitely helped me become more mature and take on the ruthless world alone.
Remember the time when I had told you that I wanted to attend a co-ed college? I remember telling you that I had to learn how to deal with men. Hence, I wanted to attend a college that would bring me in contact with them. You did not say a word. You listened to my rants patiently. You wanted me to figure out what I wanted. Even when I was in school, while most people chose to laugh at me for choosing humanities at the higher secondary level, you defended my choices.
Over the years, we have taught each other lots of new things. Although you have been way more open-minded than most people of your generation, quite naturally, there are things that you have not been exposed to. However, ever since I started studying social sciences, you have progressed further, opening your mind to absorb more knowledge. Yes, there are issues on which we do not agree, but I respect you for having come so far and for having believed in me completely.
Although you had a certain boundary there, you were able to break it down, because you believed in me.
One fine day, I clearly remember coming home and telling you that I had smoked a cigarette. I had the courage to confide in you because you had given me the feeling that I would not be stopped from doing certain things, on account of being a woman. However, to my surprise, you did not even raise your voice. All that you had to say was that smoking is harmful.
Gradually I became an occasional smoker, and that phase lasted throughout my university days. While most of my friends smoked in secluded spaces, I had the courage to light a cigarette openly, knowing that nobody could ever tell me anything. You had my back. How many women of my generation have had the opportunity to smoke and drink with their fathers? Of course, the number is almost negligible. I am extremely lucky to be one of those very few women!
Another massive step that I took, when you did not express much dissent, although there was an initial phase of tension, was when I moved in with my partner. Although you were not comfortable with the idea, in the beginning, I am thankful to you for being so patient and listening to whatever I had to say about the situation.
Although you had a certain boundary there, you were able to break it down, because you believed in me. Ever since that day, you have never asked me anything about us, never told me to marry and never gave in to misleading statements from the people who surround us. Thank you for defending me and supporting me throughout my life.
I know that we live in different cities now, but we will continue to trust each other as we always have. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude towards you, for encouraging me to keep on trying to achieve my dreams. When the world is cruel, your words of kindness, honesty and perseverance keep playing inside my head like a sweet melody. Thank you, Abba, for making me whatever I am today!
Featured image used for representative purpose only. Image source: Open Culture/YouTube