Papa, Baba, daddy, dad, Abba, father, so many terms for that unique man that your DNA is made up of. My turbulent relationship with my own father has shaped my very nature and outlook on life. My conversion to Christianity and discovering God as a loving father also made me understand my own father better. God’s sweet love and gentle nature to the fatherless made me truly appreciate my dad as a gift to me.
I know some may question my dad’s behaviour towards me and ask how he could possibly be a gift. Well my dad attempted to fight his cultural, religious and traditional demons with all his human might. In the eyes of a traditional Bengali Muslim man I committed two crimes leaving Islam and marrying a Christian black man. Harm could have come to my husband and I but he chose to overlook the ‘offence’ and the betrayal of his ‘honour’ and continue our complicated relationship. So I applaud his courage, because his peers and social circle wouldn’t have done the same. Unfortunately violence and honour killings are a real thing, and it goes undetected in the UK, so I was blessed enough not to encounter either. This is when I understood that my dad is bigger than his beliefs and may actually have the power to love unconditionally.
I liken my relationship with my dad to an airplane journey with the cramped seats in economy class, the horrid airplane food and not to mention the motion sickness. But without a shadow of a doubt I know the final destination is always really beautiful. We still don’t see eye to eye or agree on anything, but his zest for life and constant drive to do better even as he approaches the age of retirement never ceases to amaze me.
The impact a father has is so powerful. The saying that a dad is a girl’s first love is indeed true. No matter how torn and broken the father/daughter relationship is there is alway a special place for them in each other’s hearts. Social pressures, shame, temptation of exile can come with such strength but at the end of the day when either party chooses to yield, love floods in and conquers.
So dads I urge you to be patient with your daughters and to be gentle. We don’t react well to rejection of any kind even if it was not intentional. We throw fits, we are irrational sometimes, but we love with everything we have. It’s never too late to restore a broken father/daughter relationship. Don’t let stubbornness steal away what could’ve been. Daughters I challenge you to let go. He honestly didn’t know any better and is kicking himself now for missing out. If the pain is too sore start with baby steps. Even if it’s just appreciating inheriting his sense of humour or those pretty eyes. We will all get there in the end.