That very night, I had yet another nightmare. As usual I shouted so loud that my otherwise exhausted father woke up from his sleep.
“Again a nightmare?”, he asked.
“Yes baba, again that old white robed man trying to kill me”, I replied.
“Look Baba, something over there. Most probably the same man in my nightmare”, I protested . “No, no dear. He can’t come here”, replied my dad. “Sleep peacefully. Look I am switching on all the lights for you.” Gradually I drifted to a sound sleep.
Getting out of the bed in the morning, I remember my dad in his kitchen attire trying to make half fried omelettes for us. “Good morning baba” “good morning beta”. “So had a sound sleep?”, he would always ask, making me to realise that I had no nightmare the last night.
I would think why did I even get up during the night if I had no nightmare? Then my small eyes would focus on my dad yet again and there he would be decorating the table with everything he had prepared. An omelette, a glass of milk, a bowl of custard. And in between he would run to his room, change his kitchen attire, and put on his office robes.
Once we had finished our breakfast, we were to get dressed up for we would accompany him to his office. There he would do his work while we would be messing around disturbing everything that came our way. I remember how muddy our clothes would be once we landed back in our apartment. After preparing dinner, our dad would now be preparing for washing our mud soaked clothes while we would be busy in playing the games. No washing machines and no vacuum cleaners back then. He would have to do it regularly as a mother does.
I recall everything our dad has done for us. Today, when I see myself as a grown up girl I do not shy away from giving the entire credit to my dad who did everything to make us feel the luckiest girls of this universe.
Dear dad, I know your love can never be substituted by any thing nor would I ever be able to pay you back. But, today I make a promise that this daughter of yours would be your incarnation. I remember your 6 month long earned leave which you applied for because there was no one to take care of us. I have not forgotten the blisters on your hands and feet which you would hide from us lest your daughters may get hurt. You would get tired. I would be peeping through that small window while you wiped your sweat. I knew you got tired, but you never rested.
I am sorry dad for anything that may have hurt you. Would you be courteous enough to forgive this stupid girl of yours who is now leaving?
“Duniya ki bheed mai jo kbhi kho gai mai
Teri ek sada ne manzil ka nishaan de dia. \
Aansoun mai tere, meri fikr ayaan thi
Har shabd tera mera rehbar bana raha.
Jab bhi kabhi aansoun gire meray,
Moti samjh k unko bade pyaar se sajaya.
Mai tanha jab bhi baethi bechain ho kay ghabrai,
Aahat ne teri hamesha dil ko sambhalay rakha
Jo jaa rahi houn ab tou, gam tou bohat hoga,
Najane hoga koi kya tumsa sahara mera.”
Sometimes while writing about my dad, I wonder how come can we sideline a father’s sufferings and highlight only a mother because she gives birth? What would that birth have yielded if there had been no recognition certificate? How many infants are dumped in garbage because they have a mother who gave them birth but no father to claim them? A father is our recognition, our identity. It will not be wrong to say: he is the only king of my kingdom.