He had always wanted a son—his spitting image, a ‘typical’ boy whom he would raise to be a fine young man and a responsible citizen. He often visualised being a father, watching his son play, teaching him, reprimanding him if he didn’t eat his vegetables. During their pregnancy, he often told his wife, “We will raise our son such that he will value relationships. He will care for people. Our son will be around when we grow old not because he’ll have to, but because he will want to.”
As he paced impatiently outside the delivery room, the affable doctor came out smiling, “Congratulations, you have a daughter!” He smiled back at her with joy, of course. Yet, a silent disappointment enveloped his heart. Am I sad? Am I sad because we did not have a son? Or, is it because I did not want a daughter? I am an educated, open-minded person. Of course, this can’t be true. It was emotional torture! He didn’t want to entertain such thoughts any further. I will be equally happy raising our daughter.
Struggling with numerous such thoughts, he went in to see his wife and daughter. The next moment he found himself holding his little girl. He finally understood the phrase ‘pure love’ as he cradled her in his arms. He felt deeply protective of this little person he saw for the first time. But even so, the feeling of disappointment continued to gnaw at him.
Years passed, a lot changed. He lost his beloved wife to a fatal tumour. At her deathbed, he decided to raise his daughter single-handedly. And he did. But even 10 years after losing his wife and being the single parent he chose to be, his relationship with his daughter remained distant, formal at best. Often, while travelling and taking his ritualistic evening walks, he pondered over her future and wellbeing. He still longed for a son, and wondered what their relationship would have been like.
Years went by, and nothing changed. Well, one thing did—his daughter got married and moved away with the love of her life. As for him, life was the same except that he was much older and took longer walks. One Sunday evening, he returned from his walk feeling sad and alone, dreading an empty, dark house. As he walked past the main gate, he saw the lights on, the door unlocked and his daughter and son-in-law standing together, smiling. “Father, we thought it’d be perfect if we lived close to each other. Better still, next door! We’ve found two adjacent houses on a peaceful street, not far from here. There’s also a beautiful park for your long walks. What do you think?”
Overcome with emotion, he could barely say anything in response to his daughter’s thoughtful gesture. He smiled with a nod, instead.
Strolling through the park months later, he contemplated life’s events. His heart warmed at the realisation that the love, care and security he sought in a father-son relationship he never had, was there all along. He just forgot to look.
Foolishly, we spend our lives mining for love, when love’s never too far. Overwhelmed, he smiled.
Looking forward to the hot cup of tea his daughter was waiting with, he walked home. The disappointment had long turned into bliss.