You taught me to be a survivor even before I was born.
I have always enjoyed listening to stories surrounding my birth. You talk about how it began to rain heavily the minute I entered the world. You tell me how overjoyed you were to become a father for the very first time. Mom usually starts off by complaining about the hard and painful labour she went through. Then she always says that the moment she held me in her hands, she realised what true love really was. Both of you always narrate the happy parts of this story so I was completely unaware about the trouble you went through to ensure that I did not become yet another case of female foeticide.
Dad, after finding out the true circumstances of my birth, I now realise why grandpa used to criticise me so much. He never wanted me to be born in the first place because I wasn’t the heir that he had always wanted. I was a girl child in India and to him, that translated into the enormous amount of money you would have to pay as dowry. He never saw me as a human being overflowing with potential. He only saw me as a burden that would cost his family a lot of money. He would have preferred to kill me off either before I was born or immediately after. It’s heartbreaking to find out that your own family wanted to murder you as a child.
You believed in your daughter as much as you would have believed in your son.
Today, I realise that I wouldn’t have existed if you would have gone along with your father’s decision. I would have been another scar on my mother’s heart and also on yours. But you never saw me as a burden, did you? I was always the little princess who you cherished. In all these years, I have never felt unwanted. You struggled to make sure I had everything I needed. You gave me the best education you could afford. You believed in your daughter as much as you would have believed in your son.
I remember this one time when we were visiting grandpa and some distant relative had asked you to try once again for a son. She said that otherwise you would have no one to cremate you on your death. Your response was so fitting and it gives me strength to this date. You had declared that I was the one who would carry out that ritual despite being a girl child. You always said that the zeros in my salary amount would make up for my inability to make round chapatis.
I wish I could erase all the taunts you received from all branches of our family.
I am so grateful to you for this life. I know I take you and everything you do for me for granted at times but I promise you that I will never do anything that will put you on the receiving end of those taunts again. I will grow up to be a strong and independent woman. After all, I am the daughter of a man who, in his own way, slayed patriarchy. You are a living example of what feminism actually means.I am so proud to be your daughter.
All these years, you have been giving me the strength and support I needed to become the person I am today. My father’s love that I have been so lucky to receive is the main reason behind all my accomplishments. But I did not even know all the hardships you had to survive for me to get here. I wish I could erase all the taunts you received from all branches of our family. But all I can do instead is give a strong response to them by making you the proudest father on this earth.
With all the love in the world,
Your beloved daughter!