Appreciating a Father

Appreciating 3 – About fathers. | Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things. Welcome to Appreciating.

 

Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things about it. Even negative aspects can be helpful sometimes. Welcome to Appreciating.

In a sexist world skewed against women, mothers occupy a relatively more revered position as caregivers, protectors and providers. In contrast, fathers, while often getting some credit as the strongest man in a child’s life, largely go unappreciated because the focus, not undeservedly so, is more towards a mother.

Barring the absence of a mother, or the presence of an abusive one, fathers get the short end of the stick. While it is true that children tend to gravitate towards one parent, there needs to be a healthy amount of respect for and communication with both parents. Since Father’s Day is this Sunday, I thought it is a good time to appreciate my father, and fathers in general.

At the time of writing this, I was only a couple of days removed from watching the new Hindi movie ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ (tr. ‘Let the Heart Beat’), I appreciated the movie for its multi-layered characters, and while the movie shoved in our faces the otherwise subtle traits of the characters’ personalities, it was a far cry from the typical one-dimensional, stereotypical characters in the Indian film industry (colloq. Bollywood).

Note: Spoilers in the following paragraph.
What struck me about Anil Kapoor’s father character was the tensions and fears that he’d vent by being overbearing, and by making others around him feel lesser, though most of the time he’d do it unintentionally. His worries about his business translate into the pressure he puts on his son, and the snide remarks he makes to his wife. He also takes his daughter for granted, being of the old-school, outdated way of considering a daughter as “paraya dhan” (tr. “Others’ wealth”, “Estranged money”)*. It is therefore very satisfying, very cathartic, and on a personal level, very therapeutic to see his redemption when he apologizes to his wife, stands up for his daughter, and puts himself in harm’s way to let his son have a measure of freedom. In three scenes, he goes from a tyrannical dictator and a conniving businessman to a caring husband and a protective father. Perhaps the reason he resonated with me so much is because he reminds me of my own father.

My father is not oppressive, but his language sure is. It has taken me the better part of eight years to understand that. He means well, and he is much more world-wise than I gave him credit for, but his manner of speaking and some of the words he uses get on my nerves very quickly. He is also quite overbearing, and he feels this need to get involved with and solve every problem that he remotely comes into the vicinity of. The problem is that he’s too short-tempered to do anything but dismiss it.

For the longest time, I couldn’t stand my father. He came across as controlling yet distant, obnoxious and uninformed. It was when I moved out (to study in Bangalore) that the situation improved slightly. The distance meant that I could cut him out if his personality became too much for me. That allowed me to start appreciating his better traits, and I started talking to him a lot more when I had begun job-hunting. As my sister pointed out to me once, I have a complex where all I want to do is impress him (I hated her for it), so it made sense that I consulted him during that time.

This past month, my relationship with him crossed a certain milestone. I am now able to comfortably talk to him about things. Although I have to manoeuvre the conversation in particular ways to get my points in, it is a far cry from several years ago, when major conversations would end in tears. This improvement helped me, in part, overcome a bad depressive state, and I felt good enough to start blogging again after a gap of three months. I think that in itself speaks volumes.

Now as Fathers’ Day approaches, I’m going to send him something, because I know he likes and expects a gift, but is too proud to admit it, and obviously won’t ask for one.

Hopefully this helps you appreciate the importance of a father figure. If you have a story about a father figure, let me know in the comments below. Suggestions for future posts are welcome. 🙂

Keep an eye on this space for more Appreciating same time next week. Next week’s post is about “Uniforms”.