By Smriti Daniel

I'll probably forget to call him on Father's Day, anyway. You see, I'm the sort of ingrate who to tends to sneer at days on which we are meant to buy-cards-and-gifts-and-tell-people-we-love-them, like Hallmark would have us do.

Of course, this annual sit down (I think I may just buy dad a card next year and bully some other hapless journalist into penning a piece) always gives me a chance to spend a happy morning remembering what it was like to grow up with dad. As you can imagine, many of these memories are trivial in the extreme, but put up with me – somewhere, somehow, they are of relevance to you.

He was away at sea when I was born. He says his first sight of me was in some hospital bassinet, only a little tag around my wrist to identify me as his. As far as I am concerned, that point forever divided his life into B.S and A.S (B.S being before 1983 – the year that I was born.) Even worse, I have been known to assume, somehow, that my parents spent all their lives preparing to be my parents.

Take my dad. I used to look at pictures of him in college, in bell bottoms and pseudo afros, and see only the father he would become. Even now, I tend to take it for granted, really, now that he is my parent, that he is fulfilled; that I have bequeathed meaning upon his life. And it is always a nasty shock to discover otherwise – and it was all Michael Jackson's fault.

I think I was ten when I realised that my father, single and long separated from his wife, was actually hoping to have another family again. I remember the bruise of hurt, that sudden revelation that I was not enough. (Of course, in retrospect, I must admit that at two feet tall, I wasn't really all that much of a conversationalist. “Daddy! Daddy!" I would cry, and having ensured his attention with this ear splitting shriek, I would then launch into a long, convoluted narration of my day that encompassed every single action or thought, every disgusting thing a boy said, and every strange insect found under a rock. Everything except my test results, that is.)

Now, my new step-mother to be was a revolting woman. Well, not really, but you know how it goes. I remember clearly that she had no sympathy for me, particularly when the Michael Jackson picture I had stuck on the wall gave me nightmares. Of course, it was beside the point really, that I refused to take it down. Michael, was fine by day, you see. It was only at night, that he would transform, and that his eerie white face, his strange hair, and the memory of his Thriller video, would interfere with my sleep.

And, of course, all these things would make it necessary that I get up and make my way across the house to my father's room.

Dad always opened the door to me, though he would try to get me to go back to my own bed. First he would be polite, then he would cajole, and finally he would beg. And if he succeeded in getting me back into my room, there was still the abominable step-mother to answer to. "You should be more firm with her," she might say in disapproving tones. And all of this at 2 am on a weekday… you really have to wonder – why do people have kids? Why?

But it does explain something else for me – why we should bother with Hallmark orchestrated holidays like ‘Father's Day’ at all. Because if we didn't, it would be just too darn easy to continue as we have through all the other days of the year. Because if we didn't, I wouldn't be sitting here right now, giving some serious thought to calling Dad and telling him how much I miss him and how nice it would be if we lived in the same country.

It is in my nature, I suppose, to take the people I depend on most for granted.
But life is nothing if not uncertain, and every day, it seems, you must send off the person you love, perhaps straight into an exploding train carriage, and know that there is nothing you can do to protect them.

How do you let go like that? I don't know. But I do find it of some comfort, to say now and as often as I can – I love you, Dad.

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