I always had an uncomfortable relationship with my father. Much of it because he wanted me to be a dream child which I wasn’t. He expected a lot from me--in studies, in my behaviour, in the way I met with people, in the way I spoke. Even in very petty things which I thought shouldn’t be his concern.
Frankly, I never lived up to those expectations. I couldn’t have. Because I wasn’t what father thought I was. I was just average. Probably I was also too raw, too young to come up to those expectations. But father had dreams for me. I often thought they were not my dreams. And I couldn’t have lived my life through some one else’s dreams, however sweet and enticing. I wanted to live life through my own dreams, however crude and distorted they were. I wanted to experiment with my dreams. I wanted to explore life my own way even if it meant getting lost in the wilderness of my dream world.
But father’s attitude was rigid. And rigorous. ‘No’ wasn’t an option to his demands. If he smelt even a hint of noncompliance with his orders, he would break lose. His anger was uncontrollable. Any defiance meant more anger and worse.
Mother was always on my side. Protective as mothers always are. She shielded me from my father’s anger. She would often invent justifications for my behaviour. She was such a cushion in those difficult times. Mother stood accused of spoiling me. That created a lot of bitterness between my father and mother. I felt so good that mother was on my side. But sometimes it made me feel guilty. I thought I was the reason for their bitterness. For a young boy it isn’t a feeling he can handle. I didn’t want to lose the protection of mother. At the same time I didn’t want to be a source of friction in the family.
I knew father won’t change. He wasn’t that type. Somewhere, he also knew I wouldn’t change. He was convinced I was a spoilt child because of mother’s love.
Over the years father’s attitude made me very stubborn. At times, I made it a point to do just the opposite what father said. If he said left, I went right. Father saw this as open disobedience—something he couldn’t live with. That made an already difficult relationship very hurtful.
Years passed by. Things didn’t improve. At times I thought I would leave home, take up some menial job to support my studies and live life away from this cycle of bitterness.
There were long periods when father didn’t speak with me. At times these periods stretched over to several years. I felt abandoned. I felt whatever I was doing was somewhere wrong because it didn’t have father’s approval.
It seemed to me he didn’t care any more. At times I thought he actually wanted me to get into the rough weather of life. Perhaps, he thought that’s how I would repent. I don’t know whether father was looking for repentance from me or wanted me to learn to wade through the turbulent waters of life by actually facing them four square. I don’t know. Father hardly ever spoke to me.
At the other end, I felt this ‘abandonment’ gave me freedom to live life as I wanted to. But, somewhere, there was guilt in me. Was I wrong to do things as I wanted to do them? Or should I’ve taken daily instructions from father as he wanted it to be? I didn’t know then. I don’t know even now. These are life’s complex questions for which there are no straight answers. Sometimes no answers at all. Only regrets.
Father was big on experience. He wanted me to learn from it. But I thought his experience was of another timeline. Not relevant to me. I thought my life was unfolding on an entirely different time scale. He didn’t understand that. I didn’t understand him either. Until one day all the misunderstandings came to an end.
Father left for ever.