I look forward to Sundays. Every Sunday, exactly at 9PM, I talk to my dad about how our week was. He talks about his work and his walks (He is a marathon walker) and listens intently about my week. He himself knows all about how it must feel, since he went to the same college as me. This conversation lasts a few minutes and represents the remains of my relationship with my father after I joined college.
When I was young, my family was not so well off and I was an unplanned child, so it was tough. My father used to work from early morning to late night. However, even though he was tired when he got back from work each day, he always took me for a ride on his scooter (as a kid that was one of the few ways I fell off to sleep). But, he could not be there most times, so the work of raising me fell on my mother.
As I grew up, mom and I grew closer being home all the time and my father drifted away, working and travelling. When he was there, he helped me prepare for maths and science exams but those were rare occasions.
When I look back, I can trace the roots of what is happening now. My dad was never happy at home, never an emotional match for my mom. My mom was overprotective of me and seemed to fight to keep me and dad apart sometimes.
It was not her fault because I was everything she had, getting married immediately after graduating from college and bearing a child within a year from the wedding. She remade herself to suit my growth to such an extent, she lost who she was. But that is a story for another day.
Anyway as my mother grew closer to me, my father drifted away. During my coaching time, we barely spoke to each other and the father and son moments become rarer.
Since we were never very close, the silence seemed to grow and overshadow our relationship in these years. Quite often, we ended up with nothing to talk about and seldom showed much emotion. Even though he was my dad and I knew he would be there for me always, that was as emotionally deep as our relationship got.
Two years of me being in college, he separated from my mother saying that he stayed only for me to grow up and be unaffected. That was when we talked about our relationship and the lost time frankly. We acknowledged us being introverts, and regretted the lost time and acknowledged the emotional shallowness of our relationship. We decided to spend the summer together at his home in Bangalore, while I would be doing my internship and he his work with the hope of building something up. But alas, even while living together, we were distant. We had several conversations but we were mostly roommates who had their own routine.
Through all this, I realised how much we men lose out on when we are told not to show emotion, when we are taught that it is our responsibility to provide for the house and nothing more.
We bottle up our feelings, never express them even though they may torment us. We are taught to be silent sentinels, sole providers and not child carers. Few of us have the privilege of a good relationship with our child. We want to scream and shout and cry, but we can’t because we are men. We have had it hammered in us, till we accept it to be true.
So I returned to college in July and our relationship continued as it did, every Sunday 9PM. We built a little, lost a lot. We have regrets but do not dwell on them and hope for a better future.
And now today is Sunday and the time is almost 9. Time for me to go…