I sat with a mug of hot chocolate in front of the laptop trying to complete assignments. In between sips and scribbles, I inhaled steam to reduce the congestion caused by the recent rain. I felt sick! I remember my dad in times like these. No, not only because he was a doctor, but because he made everything seem perfectly okay.
A caring father
Yes, even falling sick felt so warm when he was around. The warm food, the forced hot water foot bath, the steady queries if I was okay every hour made me feel so wanted and loved. His concern always ended with ‘You need to know how to take care of yourself’, but I enjoyed getting his attention so much that I never cared. Well, I never thought things would change.
Now, as I sit far away from him, trying to work while fighting a bad cold caused by my carelessness, I realised what he meant when he had said that.
I feel that if one has known a father’s love, one can never be satisfied with love. Being my father’s daughter, the benchmark of love has been raised so high that I am never satisfied.
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He celebrated my smallest triumphs
Every time my father saw me his eyes welled up with pride, love and countless emotions. At times when I was about to break down for some reason, his eyes welled up with hurt before mine. I have seen him elated for my little successes and celebrate them. Something as small as me boiling an egg successfully for the first time called for a celebration for him. How did he celebrate? By making more boiled eggs sprinkled with spices and taking it out in a basket for an impromptu picnic in the lawn. Who joined us? The household help, my mother of course and the birds in the garden. Just to mark the occasion.
Everything I did was special to him. Every little triumph, every little fall, every little thing that I did was important to him. He listened when I spoke, felt when I expressed and was joyful when I was happy. If I ever asked him for anything, say a pack of chocolates, he would get three and ask me if I needed more. When I was home on vacation he stuffed the kitchen with cashew nuts and bourbon biscuits apart from all the other things, because those were my favourite. This is just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ of who my father was.
The first emotion we learn from our parents is love and this is the kind of love I have learnt. This is how I love too and because I have known this love, I can never be satisfied with any other love.
How about my husband?
But is this fair for my partner? This unconscious comparison?
No, it isn’t.
I have always sought my father’s love in my partner, never realising that he is a different person altogether. I will never mean the whole world to him like I did to my father. He will never rush to me at the drop of a hat. Because I am his ‘partner’ and partners are people who are equal. After the birth of our daughter, I realised that I was never and cannot ever be the centre of world for my husband. My daughter is.
Every day when I see him with our baby, I see a different man evolve. A man who has the capacity to love so deep, and after he has reached his depth of love he can still go on for more. But that love is reserved only for our daughter. I take consolation in the fact that she looks like me. I have seen a strong-hearted man melt like soft chocolate at the sight of our daughter, and in those instances I see my father in him.
Maybe there’s another way
As I struggle to complete my assignments the office boy comes in with a parcel.
“But I have not ordered anything,” I start to protest, when I see my phone beep.
Leaving the office boy standing with the parcel, I check the message from my husband.
“Have soup. Will make you feel better.”
Gratefully and elated like a small child who gets a surprise treat, I take in the parcel, much to the relief of the office boy.
As I take in the first spoonful of hot and sour soup, the spice, chilli and the sour tasting hot liquid soothes exactly everywhere the cold hurt. Taking in more spoonsful blissfully, I think, “I can never find the kind of love that I seek. My benchmark has been raised too high. But then, I can always bask in the warmth of a love that feels like a bowl of hot soup when I am having a bad cold. It is a love that feels very perfect and more than enough.”