Monday, 10 November 2008

Paternal Instincts

One of the things I hate most about being a single woman is that we tend to get ripped off in any male dominated industry. It was for this reason that I enlisted the help of my Father when deciding to repair/service my car, partly because I hadn’t paid any attention to the mass of steel in over 8 months and mostly because Daddy knows best and no one will fuck with him. I had to give him a call a few days earlier to make an appointment to see him, as we sometimes have to do because my Dad has a more active social life than all of us put together. He is a social butterfly, forever out and about.

So there we were, father and daughter traipsing around town for auto spares. A rare sight because my Dad always has company in the form of either a friend, his wife, 5 year old Peanut or a combination of any two permanently attached to his hip. Luckily my Dad had done his research and found a place where I could get value for my money. We walked into this dingy shop tucked into the corner of a quiet street and for a brief minute I actually wondered if my Dad knew what he was doing. Being the typical Indian alpha male, he knew almost everyone there or at least spoke to them as if he’d known them since childhood. My Dad did my bidding and as we waited for the clerk to bring the coveted auto parts, we chatted about everything from the US election to male stupidity.

As I chatted away, I realised that even though I haven’t lived with my dad in over 16 years, we still have a great bond. I was somewhat deprived as child…I never owned a Barbie doll because my parents refused and only ever bought me toys like Lego and puzzles to play with…and books to read. I use to fall asleep in front of the TV, on the couch, and my Dad use to carry me to my bed and tuck me in to keep me warm. Even when I wasn’t sleeping, I would close my eyes and pretend so that he could carry me…sheer laziness…and he always knew. He use to make tea and toast for breakfast on those mornings Mother had to work…and help in the kitchen by decorating biscuits for Eid.

Dad stopped in the midst of one of his sentences to ask me what perfume I was wearing, and said that it was nice…he reckons that he got all his senses back when he quit smoking.

There are other less pleasant childhood memories of him too. My Dad use to be mildly chauvinistic…a misogynist of sorts…highly critical of everyone, especially his daughters. We always felt like we could not live up to his expectations, that we couldn’t be who he wanted us to be, that we were not “good enough”…always vying for his approval. He was also not the most patient of people and always wanted everything to be done his way. Needless to say, much of my early adolescence was spent in conflict and rebellion.

Looking back, I guess I can understand Dad's behaviour and ways. He had lost his father at the age of 13 and had no real example or role model to follow in terms of being a father. He always did what he thought was right, and only ever wanted what was best for us.

In my late teens and early twenties, my relationship with my Dad changed dramatically. I don’t know exactly when or how it happened but he began to treat me like an adult. These days I can talk to him about almost anything and he isn’t judgmental. My Dad knows almost everything about me. He knows when I like a guy and often rolls his eyes when I’m swooning over some inane characteristic of the object of my affection. He knows my stance on everything from politics to religion. He even knows about my facebook profile and this blog. Just recently, after browsing through my blog he asked me “Azra, are you allowed to say such things?”…referring to the word whore on one of my posts. I laughed and told him to read it like he would an article.

Of course, I don't divulge EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of my life, that would be insane and somewhat disrespectful...some things are better left to the corners of my mind.

However, I do have the most technologically savvy parents I know so there’d be no point in trying to hide things. Being an electronic and technological whiz, my Dad is the type of person who can crack codes and hack into sites because he loves free downloads; everything from anti-viral software and music to e-books on how to give up smoking.
A lot of people, especially family members find my relationship with my Dad (& Mother) quite odd. They frown upon my policy of honesty and openness with my parents. I don’t really care because I refuse to live a double life. My parents know who I am as a person, flaws and all because I’ve made sure that they see the real me, and not who they want to see. They don’t have any false perceptions or opinions and thankfully they accept me for who I am. On one occasion I had the following conversation with them:

Azra: I just want you both to know that I swear…a lot. So don’t be surprised. But I’ll never swear in front of you of course.
Mother: You better not, I’ll burn that mouth.
Dad: (Laughs) It’s a bad habit.
Azra: Yeah I know it’s a bad habit and I’ll change when I get married :P …But considering that I’m 26 years old and that I DON’T have a boyfriend/fiancĂ©/husband…that I’m NOT promiscuous…that I DON’T stay out at all hours even though I can…that I DON’T drink alcohol or do drugs …that I DON’T even smoke…that I DON’T involve myself with bad company…and that I DON’T sneak off to meet guys on street corners…swearing is quite miniscule don’t you think…and its my only vice, so don’t deny me this.
Mother: Well, everything you do or don’t do is for your own good; you’re not doing us any favours.
Azra: Yeah I know…just telling you so that you know…
Dad: You girls are so boring, if I were you I’d steal the car and go out.
Azra: I don’t need to, I have a car and I can come and go as I please…so there’s no fun in that.

To the outside world, my Dad is the nicest person you’ll ever come across. He’s very engaging and can hold a conversation with almost anyone.

No man will ever be able to drive me to tears the way my Father can. And all that is required is that look of disappointment or a rise in the tone of his voice. He has always encouraged us to be independent women but still has this innate need to take care of us. Even when we try to take him out as a treat for his birthday, he always pays, even if we put up a fight for the bill.

After what seemed to be hours, we finally received all the auto parts we requested and when I went to pay, the uncle behind the counter wanted to know if he was my husband. The mere implication left me revolted and disgusted…things like that gross me out to the max. I was quick to rectify him and then felt mildly insulted at the insinuation. I thought that a) I either look hideous and much older than what I am or b) Dad looks much younger than his years. The answer is probably “b” because Daddy is barely 47 years old and looks like he’s in his early 40’s with his tall slender-well-built frame and slight hint of graying hair. To my amusement, he’s also become very health conscious in recent years, and I often see him out walking with his friends on my evening run.

My Dad is a work of art. I often say that most partners are exactly alike and even though my parents have been divorced for the past 16 years, they are the exactly the same in their eccentricity and humour, although Mother gets points for her extraordinary wit and Daddy takes the whole chain of bakeries when it comes to sarcasm and dramatic flair. Nobody does drama like my Dad and I guess it’s genetic. If something upsets him, he will explode…he’s highly volatile like that but it’s usually over as quickly as it began. An hour and an explosive tirade after I crashed his car on his 40th birthday, he gave me the keys and told me to go to the shop…he doesn’t hold grudges and even when I didn’t want to go, he urged me to get back into the car and drive.

We were finally on our way to the mechanic, while Dad enthusiastically explained what they intended to do with the car. I listened and feigned interest…its amazing how a grown man can be so excited about such mundane things. Looking at him today, I can safely say that no matter what he may have done in the past…no matter how he may have hurt me, I still love him to death…and even when he’s driving me absolutely crazy, I wouldn’t give him up for the world.


  1. Awwww Azra :-) This post is really have really awesome parents.

  2. ok, i knew that your mom reads this blog, but now that i know your dad does too, i feel like im visiting a private sanctuary and so i should do the 'good girlfriend' routine, just so they know you hang out with nice sweet girls :P
    on second thought... that would be so boring, i bet they read this for juicy titbits, so.... we'll use this as a canvas to tell them some of the many dimensions that colours the persona that is 'Azra'...
    ok. enough of that. lol. i hope they dont read comments!!

    i agree on two things: one, lego's rock! always will...

    two, dads and daughters have fundamentally benign relationships until you reach a point where a challenge stares you in the face. this is that rare defining point, where for a time you might choose to rebel (i did too) and only when you've finally come full circle, after he's fallen as the Hero and seen as just plain ol' extraordinary ;) thats when the real love begins... dad's are ordinary heroes who make that awesome impact on us inspite of and because of their being simply human. its a huge shift in consciousness to realise this, and then love every bit of that realisation no matter what!

    two rivers flow... inspired by life, and where they meet is an ocean.. guess who, girlie :)

    thanks for sharing, once again! i love the energy of your writings...

  3. TCQ - Thanks...I am a lucky just to remember that when they're driving me crazy :)

    Shafs - My parents are not avid readers of my blog...they may come around every once in a while just to check whats going on...and even then, its not like they're reasing every single detail - they're too selfish for that :D They're more interested in their own agendas LOL.

    As Children, we idolise our parents, because we dont know any better...then we find out that they're not so perfect or invincible and it devastates us temporarily...but it is then that the real relationship begins...because then we can accept each other for who we are, and love each other unconditionally...regardless of our insecurities and short-comings.

  4. i wonder of u talk as much in person as on ur blog :P

    cool post. well up till half way. my ADHD is setting in again...

  5. that conversation was very interesting.

  6. Sweet Post Azra! Hmm brings back some childhood memories!

  7. My goodness! This sssoo reminded me of a post a write well over a year ago! looll.
    Your dad sounds as cool as mine and so many of the references you made reminded me of my dad!

  8. thats very sweet azra. i also think i am still out for my dad's approval - nothing is ever good enough. nevertheless we have some sort of a relationship, talking, laughing and joking....

  9. That was a wonderful read Azra. You have narrated your relationship with your dad in a wonderful way. You are pretty lucky to have such an open relationship with your father.

  10. Shafs - Glad to have inspired you...Fathers are an integral part of everyones lives, and one of the problems with the world today is that we dont realise how important they are.

    Nooj - Apparently I do LOL

    Sami - We have very interesting conversations at our house.

    Princess - Thanx

    Zahera - I'm going to read it now :P

    Trinity - Nice to meet you Pot (calling kettle black)lol

    Prixie - Yeah, I guess in life we all want approval from one of our parents. Because if they can validate us, then maybe the rest of the world will too :)

    Pranay - I am lucky...but it has been quite a journey to get to where I am right now.