Recently I was waiting in line when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and with uncertain shifty eyes, took your name. Said I looked like you, which I do. I told her; with the same uncertain shifty eyes; that I am your daughter, because you never know what’s coming next. She went on to praise you and prayed for your long life, for your happiness, for your children’s happiness.
This was a story Abba, where you were the hero. I have heard stories where you are the villain too. But with time Baba pyaray, I have learnt how to separate your disorder from you. And I choose to believe that your anger, the destructive, all consuming rage is part of your disease.
The real you, is the person who tells me I am too thin when very clearly I am not. The real you smiles in amused resignation when I order food for the hundredth time rather than eating at home. The real you, takes my daughter to the park in the evening simply because she asked you too. You are someone who distributes candies to children selling flower crowns. You eat waffles in the middle of the night and you like watching trailers of action movies.
It took me a couple of decades and becoming a parent to finally learn how to separate you from your disorder. I used to resent you for your anger until I scolded my own kid and over took one too many drivers on the road, realizing along the way that I inherited some of it.
Along with the realization came a series of doubts Baba, I don’t want to be as scary to my kids as you were to me growing up. You were generous but you were scary. You were kind but you were so far away. You provided everything for us but I could never talk to you up until a few years ago. Sure some of it was a combination of the depression and bi polar tendencies you had then, but some of it was you too.
It took me a long time to stop resenting you. It also took me a long time to realize that none of it was my fault. I have difficulty drawing lines between appropriate and inappropriate conduct. Maybe because I grew up watching you. Anger comes naturally to me which I hate so much. Being aloof from people who I love is my first instinct.
I love you Abba. I have watched you go from high to lows and vice versa for decades now. I have watched you lay in bed for months with the curtains drawn. I have watched you stop speaking to us because of trivial things. But I have also watched you plan and execute elaborate trips. I have realized that some of your anger came out of love. Some of it out of worry that I was making all the wrong decisions. I know now that as a parent you are incapable of wishing anything but the best for me. My love and resentment for you yo-yos with your ups and downs Baba.
I wish I could fix you. I wish I knew what to say which would make you happy. I wish I could fix you like a broken bone or a faulty appendix.
But I can’t. I don’t know how to lift you from the depression. So I come over to your place and talk to you about my kids. I ask you how you are. I try and make you eat something. I notice new grey hair in your beard and I wonder which worry bought that on. I know I was the cause of a lot of them. I wish I wasn’t though.
I used to think of you as invincible. A brilliant, quick tempered, indestructible person who could take anything on. So watching you lay in bed fighting with your own head breaks my heart. Whenever someone tells me he just needs the will power to get up, I smile and nod when I know perfectly well that is not the case.”
The author is an entrepreneur and a mother of two.