“Daughter. Your poor dad may not be able to drown you in comfort and pleasure. But there will not be any deficiency in the love and adoration I give you, daughter. In the occurrence of such happening, please understand your underprivileged dad’s situation and forgive me, daughter.” - Dad
("My Daughter Merina", originally written in Nepali, on December 12, 1999, my first birthday)
People say a mother’s love is incomparable, and as much I feel that immense amount of love from my mother, I have never sensed my father’s love being any less than hers.
For someone who spent half his life in Nepal, where gender inequality is still severe to this day, my father has done an excellent job in empowering me to believe that I am just as capable as and equal to any man on this planet. He did- and still does- just as much cooking, cleaning, and even braiding my hair as my mum did.
His mother was literally snatched out of all colour in her life the moment her husband passed away (widowed Hindu women are required to wear only white). His sister was forced to drop out of school at a tender age in order to help with the housework. My parents’ marriage was an arranged one; it happened when my mother was only 18 years old.
I know barely legal girls whose parents are already preparing for their marriages, yet simultaneously, are letting their sons of ages beyond thirty roam around. My father, despite having been exposed to such ‘traditions’ and ‘values’ from a young age, and despite having the opportunity to do the same, has given both my brother and I equal amounts of importance, love, and freedom.
People, especially those that share my ethnical background, often criticise my father for giving his daughter as much freedom as he does his son. However, this has only made me more grateful, honest, and responsible due to the mere thought of (carrying the guilt of) letting my father down.
Education is power, and my father experienced first-hand the meaning of that saying the moment he left home in pursuit of a better future, his version of the American Dream. Even after 18 years, he’s a trifling construction worker to many. He comes home every day from work- sometimes burned and covered with rashes from working under the sun all day, sometimes with cuts all over his limbs, and always with a plastic bag that carries his sweat- drenched work attire. Yet, he continues to leave for work every single morning, in hopes that with the help of years of education, I will, someday, live a better life than he has.
For many, my father is an average man, a mere bar-bender, the younger brother of a veteran. To himself, he’s a ‘lucky father of an unlucky daughter’. But to me, he is someone who has moulded me into the person I am today. He is my guiding light; he is the man who inspires me the most.