Father’s Day came and went this June, and at several points I breathed sighs of mixed emotions. Embarrassment, sadness, resignation and a certain sense that things could have been so different for me if I had a different father.
I don’t know who reads this blog – but let me say right now that (1) if you know my father, please don’t mention this, (2) I am writing this not to draw pity or attention, but to channel the emotion, and (3) I’m going to type this stream of consciousness and there is a lot of emotion, so forgive me for any dramatic phrasing.
I remember once I visited the house of some people closely connected to my father, in our hometown. And, when my father was out of the room, the mother of the household looked me square in the eye and said, “You know, your father is so wise. He is a rare kind of person. (I nod, because it’s what’s expected of me.) … Do you think he is, you know.. enlightened? Do you think he is a saint?” Of course, I’m paraphrasing. My memory isn’t that good. But that was most definitely the gist. That community of people call him “Saint” when he’s not around. He knows this, and lets them continue calling him that. I’m sure he thinks it’s better to let them believe in something, or someone.
I was totally floored. He’s not saint, and I told her so much. She asked me at least two more times, to be sure. “Are you sure?” “Really??” Yes, I’m sure.
My father: once said, “All women think between their legs” to me in a very bitter tone.
My father: once said, “Take her away. I don’t want to keep her. If I do, I’ll be a shell of a parent.”
My father: once said, “If you were allowed to live with your mother you’d probably be fat, and pregnant. What? It’s just the truth.”
My father: once said, “Look at yourself. Look at that frown. You look ugly when you look at me like that. You know that?”
My father: once said, “You think I came crawling back to you? You think I need you? You think I begged you on my knees to move back in with me? I don’t NEED you. I don’t NEED you.” After a 7 week separation during my sophomore year of high school.
My father: once said, “I bred you.” In the middle of a fight. Like a horse?
My father: once said, “I am the reason you went to Harvard. You mother is the reason you failed.”
My father: once said, “No one will love you like I love you. No one. Not your mother, your brother, your grandmother. Not your friends. Not even your future husband.”
My father: once said, “bitch” whispered under his breath, and didn’t fess up when I called him out on it.
My father: once said, “One of these days, I’ll just leave. I’ll pack just one backpack full of some essentials, and I’ll walk. I’ll find my way to the mountains and wander. And I won’t bring a cell phone. If you want to ever talk to me, you can give me a phone.” And this was in a moment of complete cool and collected-ness, when I was young enough for it to sting.
My father: once said, “Davu da! Take me away! God please! Take me away!”
My father: once wrote: “If you need anything, talk to your friends or your mother. Don’t come to me. Clearly you don’t need me. Here are the letters you sent to me (unopened). I do not read my junk mail.”
My father spit fire with impunity.
Everyone who didn’t know him well enough, loved him – defended him to no end – believe in him. Meanwhile, his immediate family members run far away from him. I was the last to do so.
And even though it’s been almost a year since I’ve cut ties (classic case of over-exposure to toxic treatment) — even though he may not remember every hurtful thing he said to me — I remember. It plays in my head.
Happy belated Father’s Day. I hope you hug your father, if you have the chance, and remember how it feels.