Last night, you were angry. Mad at me again. Yes, I know that look in your eyes. One that means business. Damn serious one. ‘No fooling around‘, I say to myself. And then the cold stare. How bloody angry! And it wasn’t the first time. But it also wasn’t the first time I’d returned home late. Late enough for half the world to be asleep. I dreaded the moment. I knew I was at fault. The house was engulfed by creepy silence. All were sleeping but not you. The minute I saw you, a fear crept into my veins. My head yelled, ‘Now face the consequences‘. You looked at the clock. I followed your sight. Half past one. Oh God! Was it really that late?
“Where were you?“ Not a question that demanded answers. Calm but hostile. I couldn’t look up. Couldn’t muster the courage to reply. I stared at the floor. “Look at me“. I did. I don’t know what I saw there. Fear. Anger. Pain. Resignation. Hopelessness.
I dare not argue. Like I always do. It was just the other night. I can see that you’re growing tiresome with my stupid stubbornness. Endless arguments and debates that I commence. But tonite, it annoys me to know that you won’t give in. I fix my gaze on the floor again.
And then the endless stream of questions.
Where were you? Out with Friends. What friends? Silence. Why are you home this late again? We were partying. Kevin’s promotion bash. Dinner and Drinks. So you drink? No. Not me. And this is when you plan to return home – 1:30 in the morning? Silence, anger is building up. Did I not ask you to be back home by 10, no matter what? Angrier. Answer me? And then the outburst. Shouts. Yells. Back-answers.
I won’t stand this in my house. No, means NO late-night parties. But all my friends go. They all stay. Except me. Their fathers never restrict them. Why just me? No more questions. I shout, I don’t take it. You can’t do this to me. Then I’m forced to ground you. Noooooooo. I make rules around here, not you. And they are for your own good whether you like them or not. Slow heavy sobs. But I got a life too and I wish to live it my way, not anyone else’s. Silence. I’m your father. Silence. I tried getting you to understand politely but you don’t seem to get it. Please. This is final. Anything else? Yes, I hate you. I so hate you for doing this. I never will talk to you again. I turned to go and looked at you. You looked, paralyzed. Did I smile inside? Heartless, I thought. I walked away. Not realizing, it was me who was heartless not you.
You were the first I laid my eyes on when I first opened them. The first who
held me in your arms. And I know I am your sweetheart, your little baby. Have always been. I know. I can see how much you love me. I can see it in your eyes. Even though you never say it in so many words.
So many years have passed and I’ve grown up before your eyes. With every passing year, your love for me has nothing but grown. When I was little, you held my tiny hands firm, tight within your grasp. After all these years, you still want to hold me secure, close to your heart, within your sight is where you always want me to be. When I’m gone, it makes you restless to not know when I’m going to be back. What with the cruel hideous crimes happening around. You keep worried like all fathers do. I continue being carefree like all daughters do. You’re being protective and while I continue to resist. After-all what father would want his daughter to have the fate the other unfortunate girl did. Abused. Tortured. Raped. Abandoned. Dead.
All I do is care. Yes, that was the look in your eyes last night. My self-defensive stubbornness made me see only your fallen face. The dejection in our eyes made me feel victorious. But how blind could I get? Thinking about it now, I know I’d pierced your heart with my harsh words. I’d left you bleeding inside. I’d said I hated you but do I really? I showed I didn’t care but do I really don’t care? How I wish I could take those words back!
I was angry too, dad. Thought you’re being unfair. Being suffocatingly over-protective. I pretended to not understand. Unwilling to accept your concerns. My doggedness didn’t let me see reason. I don’t hate you, dad, how can I ever?
And it was anger that made me say what I did. I did not mean it. What I didn’t say is, I know you care for me and so do I. I love you dad. I always have. But I didn’t say this. I said something else instead.
© Asha Seth