Saturday, June 14, 2014

Daddy's girl

My dad brought me up like a boy. And when I say this I don't really mean that he encouraged me to be tomboyish or behave like boys so but rather he never restricted me from doing something because I was a girl. Growing up in India in the 1980s may not be like that for all the girls as I have seen many girls have a lot of restrictions on what they can and can't do because they were "girls". Fortunately it wasn't like that for me. My dad always encouraged me to talk, ask questions, argue, take sides on a topic and defend my side and to never give up on something if I believed in it. He listened to everything I used to say and he encouraged me to come up with my stories, theories. Not all girls were allowed to speak up, argue at those times because I remember a few people talking about how my dad was spoiling me by letting me say and do all that I wanted. I believe that a lot of my confidence comes from this :)
My dad also never encouraged me to do any work that was meant to be done by girls only - like cooking, cleaning, helping with housework. He wasn't against me doing any of this work - in fact he is the one who taught me how to do dishes in a methodical, clean manner without having to gross out, but he didn't want me to do it all the time. Instead he made me do interesting things that mostly guys did in other households - he made me to change bulbs, fix a radio, tie toraNa (festoon), paint the walls etc. He also taught me how to fix broken things around the house and to make my own things. During festivals usually the men did Abhiheka (offering milk, water etc by pouring them slowing on the idol) but my dad let me do it while he read out the stotras. I believe that by doing this he raised a feminist :)
My dad spent a lot of time teaching, reading things and making me read things. He encouraged me to try out things and take up challenges. I remembered the times when he would tell me to go thank someone by saying a few nice things and I would be quite hesitant but now I happily do that all the time :) I also remember a time in school where I was very worried about an impromptu speech competition as I wasn't sure what topic I might end up picking and I might not know what to say. They had given us the broad topics so my Dad said - so we have the broad topics and we are worried as to which one of those we might pick right - so how about we prepare for all those broad topics in detail as though we picked each one of them? And we did that and I ended up winning that impromptu speech competition. He basically made me understand that there was always a way out :)
And when I was old enough, he treated me like this equal, always asked for my opinion on things. It doesn't mean we didn't have difference of opinions, we did and we fought a lot but he always respected my opinions and I did his and it has been like that all the while :)
I saw this father's day card a few years ago that I sent to Dad but the lines in that so aptly describes my thoughts I have to quote it here -
"Because her father listened to her, she knew she had something to say"
"Because he believed in her, she believed in herself"
"Because he said she could do anything, she did"
Here's to Dad, my inspiration, my strength, my support system, my guru, my hero, my friend! 
Happy Father's day to everyone!

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