June 21st 2020
As everyone celebrates Father’s Day, I reflect on my 3rd Father’s Day without my Dad. It’s a void that I have tried to hide by just burying myself in work for the last three years. You don’t want to think too much about how much your Father ‘s life means to you because it’s so hard to face the emptiness.
My father was a strict South Indian man born in Kerala who raised his family partly in Delhi and Florida. I was always so afraid of him. As a little girl , I remember how I would try to never displease him. I loved the warmth and affection of my mother. My father was the epitome of tough love. I was always around my mother.
But as I became older, my Father would increasingly utilize my letter writing skills to write business and professional letters. English was his second language and I became his personal secretary, typing and editing all his English letters. As I grew older, I started to hate doing it. He started paying me for typing and editing his letters. My first job. I willingly put in my play hours for the few rupees that he paid me. Money was never just given to me. It always had to be earned. By doing chores. Like ironing his clothes or buying milk.
Very early on, I realized the value of money and skills with this simple lesson that my Father taught me. In college, I tutored school kids and flipped burgers at Burger King to make money. And when I turned 21 , I became a Registered Nurse and started earning my five figure salary.
After 13 years of being a Registered Nurse and Nurse Practitioner, I have realized the struggles my Father and Mother went through to raise me and my siblings. And I have never taken their efforts or their sacrifices lightly.
I was not my Daddy’s princess. He raised me up to be a strong and independent woman who could take care of herself and live her ambitions , just like any man. He was not the one to spare the rod and I never felt any different than my brother. He cherished my skills and knowledge and was always proud of how well I did in school. I still remember the pride in his voice when he told all his friends that I had become a Nurse Practitioner.
He always took great pride in telling me that I was the most educated woman in his whole family and how proud he was of me. Of course , I personally think that my mother ( a registered nurse with over 40 years of experience is my inspiration and mentor without whom I would not be who I am).
Even as I reflect on my career of 13 years, I realize the value of financial independence and equality which my father instilled in me. He raised me to be a capable woman and believed that I could soar as high as I wanted to and that being a woman was never a limitation.
I still remember how he would call me ‘Kalyani’ – the name of a female police officer in a TV show which was based on the struggle of a woman aspiring to be an Indian Police Service officer. It was probably the first Indian television show on women empowerment in the 90s . The TV series is inspired by the true story of Indian Police Service Officer Kanchan Choudhary Bhattacharya (Former Director General of Police) who after several hardships went onto become the first female Director General of Police.
To the man who always believed in me and my ability to soar to new heights -You are no longer here in body but I have never stopped believing that you reside in my soul, always guiding me. I hope I have made you proud of where I am today. Happy Fathers Day