28 July 2009

Appa

Appa (the Tamil word for Father) and I have had a rocky relationship. We didn't always see eye to eye on many things, and there were times when I said things that looking back, were really douchey. It didn't help, of course, that for some time, I was questioning who I am, and had trouble reconciling with him on who he wanted me to be (a preist, a religious man, a "manly" man, etc.). I thought for a very long time that he wouldn't accept me and love me for who I am, but would forever be disappointed.

As parents are wont to do, he still did carry on loving me and being proud of all my accomplishments. When he talks about any of his children, his face lights up, and he can carry on for hours, because he's so proud of all of us, and what we've managed to achieve.

More than that, he was always present in my life. I can never recall a time when he or my mother told me that they wouldn't be there for me when the going gets rough. Amma (Tamil word for mother, as you may recall) reminded me yesterday that Appa's birthday is today, and that it would be nice if I could write a quick note to wish him. All these feelings and memories were coming to my mind as I wrote him my birthday note, so it took a little longer than I expected, but I feel that I showed him that yes, I do still love and care about him and his well-being.

We all have parents or other family members with whom we've had disagreements, but still care for deeply. I guess I'll let my letter do the talking, so that you can see where I was coming from.

Appa,

Our relationship has changed over the years. In the beginning, I was the helpless little baby that you held in your arms. Then I became the precocious child, who was the light of everyone's eye. Eventually, I grew to understand your influence over my life.

Regardless of the situation, you were always present. I could always count on Appa to be there. To take care of things. When all my friends had divorced parents, I was one of the few who could always count on his father.

There is one particular incident I recall that cemented in my mind what it means to be a man. Amma had dropped a pickle jar on the floor. Everything splattered all over the place. She was very upset, and you came in, and cleaned it up. I asked you, "If Amma was the one to make the mess, why are you cleaning it?" You said, "Because we're family, and we take care of each other."

When I stop and think of the men that I look up to, you come to mind, because regardless of the adversity that came our way, you stuck by us. Through all the years of my bratty rebellion, you still loved and cared for me. I want you to know how much I appreciate that.

And then, when I brought Steve into our lives, you accepted him too, because you know that he makes me happy. I have heard so many stories of men who have been estranged from their fathers because of who they love. You never did that to me.

Because we're family. And we take care of each other.

Those words will guide me throughout my life, and be a comfort.

Thank you for being a wonderful father. A wonderful man. A wonderful person.

Love,

Me
Happy birthday, Appa!