Dads and their little girls

The musical "Gigi" was a favourite in our house, and we had it on a video tape which we wore out completely. "Thank heaven for lee-tle girls" was a song that stayed with my dad for years and he would often break out into the line from the title. He was very dedicated to his girls. Not that he wouldn't have been equally dedicated if he had boys, but he never missed an opportunity to tell us how happy he was to have "little girls". Growing up, he was the person who brushed our teeth and washed our faces before school, helping my mom to get us out the door in the morning. Taking us to the bus stop or driving us to school and many times picking us up as well. When I got my first cavity, he paced up and down while the dentist dealt with me, until he was finally told to please stop doing that and sit down quietly! Doctor visits, Christmas tree decorating, aerobics, piggy back rides, "posting" our letters to Santa, dance classes, eating burnt brownies - he was indulgent and always happy to spend time with us.
I remember an incident where he once again calmed me 
when I went into an anxious frenzy. When we shifted to
Tezpur he was concerned that the schools weren't very good and that it was time for us to go to boarding school. We had moved to Tezpur from Wellington, where my mom used to work at Hebron - this lovely residential school in Ooty. They decided that was where we should go. I was all of 10 and was extremely nervous about going and both of them spoke to me everyday about how great boarding school is and how it would be just like "Malory Towers" and Shaheen would be with me too and I would love it. I tried to be convinced and excited about it, but as the time to go drew closer I got increasingly anxious, working myself into a nervous fever. At night, Shaheen would try to reassure me that it would be ok and boarding school would be fun, but I finally couldn't take it. I crept out of bed and went over to my parents room where they were watching TV and burst out crying that I didn't want to go. I remember him looking so shocked and asking me why I hadn't said anything - he enveloped me in a big hug and said if I didn't want to they obviously wouldn't make me! And so we didn't end up going to boarding school then, but by the time I was 16 I was ready. Shaheen and he drove up to Mussoorie to drop me and I was so excited to be there. They settled me in over a few days and they left me all happy and excited. Though he was really pleased that I had settled in so quickly, he told me much later that he was heartbroken when they were leaving because I waved goodbye but didn't turn back even once to look at them. Perhaps that signalled to him that the "little girl" didn't need him anymore, but he was completely wrong. 

Even if I grew busier, as a family we did see a lot of each other - us travelling to Bangalore often and they travelling to Delhi as well, and we spoke fairly often. I'm not sure if he realized it but there was never a time we stopped needing him, and for me ultimate approval for anything I did always had to be from him. Thank heaven for the daddy of these no longer little girls...because of him they got to grow up in the most delightful way.


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