“I was distraught, but I didn’t want to challenge the court’s decision.”
“The day Gauri was born and I held her for the first time, I knew I would move mountains for her. She had the prettiest eyes– I never wanted to see her cry. I think even she realised that I’d do anything for her… over the years, she became quite skilled at having things done her way. All she had to do was make puppy eyes and I’d melt.
To be honest, I didn’t mind it at all, it was the happiest I had ever been. But when Gauri was 4 I found out my wife was having an affair. We’d been married for 7 years, and had a beautiful daughter. I didn’t want to believe it… I tried dismissing the thought; I even decided to give the marriage a second chance.
But my wife said she was in love; I was hurt. But that’s life, it happens. So after trying for 2 years, we got divorced and my wife got Gauri’s custody. I was distraught, but I didn’t want to challenge the court’s decision– I didn’t want my daughter to spend her weekends attending one hearing after another. She was just 7 and deserved a better childhood than that.
So I made my peace with getting to see her every weekend. We developed a routine– every Saturday I would take her to eat burgers and then for dessert, we would eat donuts. But dropping her back after a blissful weekend was hard; the days that followed were harder. Sometimes she would call me at night, trying hard not to cry and say, ‘I miss you, Papa.’
I knew she wanted to stay with me; she’d tell me she was planning on escaping but I’d just console her.
On her 8th birthday, she refused to cut the cake without me. I had sworn to never enter my ex-wife’s house, but when I heard her crying on her birthday, I forgot about everything else. That day, I told everyone I was going to bring her back home. I was tired of just seeing her on the weekends and even she kept saying she wants to live with me. Thankfully, my wife agreed; I gave them a year to make the transition. And we celebrated Gauri’s 9th birthday together, at my place!
It was Mother’s Day a week after that and she made me a card that read, ‘Happy Mother’s Day, Papa.’ I couldn’t hold it in anymore; that day, we both cried. But that was the only day– we’ve only been happy since.
We’ve both settled in well. I’ve learnt to make her favourite paneer sabzi and now I’m a champion at giving champis and making braids.
It’s just the two of us, so we do everything together, from watching movies to making stupid videos. I try to fill in all the roles– I tend to her like a mother, fight with her like a sibling and care for her like a father. In return, she’s my best friend; she carefully listens to everything I say and like any other best friend, she tries to be my wingwoman– ‘Get married now, Papa. I want to dance in your baraat!”