I know, I know, Father’s Day is exactly the kind of trap smart women should not walk into. So I am not getting a schmaltzy card, I am not buying expensive ties or wallets, I am not even having flowers delivered anywhere. I will just quietly, and economically, remember him this Sunday like I do all days.
The truth is if I still had a dad, I would have hung out with him not just on Father’s Day but every day. Who knew dads could die?
We daddy’s Girls had it all. Solid support, unconditional love, unlimited funds, compliments by the minute. We could do no wrong, no man was good enough for us, we were too gorgeous for mankind...
Only one person told us this with a straight face and we believed. Dads shook their heads sadly at sons, but bowed these same heads when daughters entered the room.
Paper Moon to Piku, celluloid routinely zooms in on men and their female offspring. From The Descendants where George Clooney’s daughter, played by Shailene Woodley at her youngest, reveals to him his dying wife’s infidelity, to the unspeakable creep in Room, whom his son, played by little Jacob Tremblay with such fragility, must not make eye contact with, 70-mm dads loom large.
In books too, fathers come in all shapes; Mr Bennet, whose many daughters dote on him for his mildness and wit, Arthur Weasley, who gives Harry Potter a quasi-paternal vibe, to King Lear, who thought his daughter Cordelia did not love him enough.
Women knock themselves out trying to find a father figure if their biological dad flakes out or isn’t there for them.
Daddy-Long-Legs, an epistolary novel by American writer Jean Webster, is a case in point.
The delicious fact about daddies is that alpha male men turn into purring pussycats in a jiffy in the presence of their little girls. Which, of course, as a wife I do not appreciate enough – to see my usually macho husband turn to putty in clever, manipulative teenage hands, makes me want to throw up – but as a daughter take as my due.
Husbands may come and go, but your father’s faith in you is what makes you who you are. Of course, a supportive man in your life who is not your father is a big plus, but if you started life with a man who is delirious with joy and gratitude just because you were born, then life is magic.
And nothing makes the disappearance of a dad alright. No one says, oh, you know, he was old and ailing, had lived his life to the fullest, so it was his time to go. I think of all those well-meaning people at my father’s funeral who sought to comfort me with words thus.
All I could do was rage internally – no departure is as untimely as that of your creator. Because, let’s face it, who and where God is, I do not know. I only know my parents, stake-holders in an equity called me, with dad owning more than 50% of the shares. In the boardroom of my soul, we have to do without a CEO.
‘We thought he would last forever,’ says Stephen Hawking’s daughter. Fathers should.
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bengaluru. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn’t Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.