Butter chicken and naan,
That’s what my dad would get me,
Every time I excelled at school.
Then he would get me books,
Any and all,
I just had to linger on that shelf.
If I looked at a saree too long,
He would say “pack it”.
I remember I had to choose a third language at school,
He introduced me to “my choices” then,
He said, pick anything,
You have to abide by it.
That sudden responsibility,
And that freedom,
I chose Arabic.
It was brilliant!
Then with time,
There were subtle shifts.
He had a say in who my friends were and what they did,
Nobody was good enough for his little girl.
I wanted to pursue literature,
But engineering was where his heart was set.
Writing wasn’t an actual career.
Then it came to my relationships,
He believed that I was far far far more capable than any I had ever dated,
My dad believed in me so.
Suddenly all the choice that I had with
Food, books, clothes and languages,
Didn’t drip down to
Career, relationships and friendships.
But I had been spoilt for choice.
Unwittingly he had made me believe that I could choose anything,
And if my choice of a third language was a success,
So would my choice of a man or a career.
The more he pushed,
Questioning my choices,
The more I became certain that that was I was meant for.
The more he expected submission,
The more I rebelled.
The more he said,
The more I stopped listening.
Every time that you question me or pass a judgement- it makes me feel alone.
It makes me feel that you don’t believe in who you have brought up.
It makes me feel that you believe that I can’t learn from my mistakes.
It makes me sad that that you want to control every nook and cranny, even if from a sense of responsibility and affection.
And it makes me determined to be my own person.
I don’t know who I would have been,
If you hadn’t opposed me at every step.
I don’t know if I would have been this person today,
Who can look the world in the eye and stay strong.
Yet sometimes I hope,
That, anytime, just one time,
That you would be on board,
With what I chose.