The way a father loves — no one can!

There’s a quote — “A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there – but a guiding light whose love shows us the way!” — and it couldn’t be truer!

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“When he was about a year old, Vihaan uttered his first word– ‘Dadaaayyy!’ Unfortunately, I wasn’t home at the time; when my wife told me about it, I rushed back home! ‘Main kaun hoon? Daddy kaun hai?’– I tried really hard to make him say it, but he didn’t budge.

He made me wait for 2 whole months until he said ‘daddy’ again. I was so happy that I squeezed him tight and kissed his face red. Vihaan pulled away as if to say, ‘Stay cool dad,’ but I just couldn't stop!

During the lockdown, we’ve been getting the much needed papa-beta time. We go for walks, have mango ice creams and play pranks on Mumma. We ask her to click photos and when she says, ‘Cheese’, either Vihaan or I deliberately run away. We love bugging her!

Vihaan and I take over the kitchen on alternate days; he’s my sous chef. On those days, I cook our favourite dishes and mamma is not allowed to enter the kitchen. He helps me create a mess of the kitchen.

Just yesterday, we were making Angoor Rabri– Vihaan pulled out the sugar container and spilled it all over the kitchen. My wife was shocked to see the kitchen’s state after our 5-hour rabdi pursuit. I was afraid that she was going to yell at us but Vihaan ran and fed her rabdi– she melted in a second!

Like father, like son– I’m teaching him to be a sweet charmer early on and get his way!”

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“I jumped around our bedroom when my wife revealed she was pregnant. After a few minutes, I composed myself and hugged Nishtha. Immediately after, we went into lockdown. She was only allowed out of the house for her routine check-ups– I wasn’t even allowed inside the hospital. I missed all her sonographies and hearing our baby’s heartbeat; even the first picture.

I remember thinking to myself, ‘I’m not present for one of the most significant moments of my life.’ I longed to hear the heartbeat so I’d beg Nishtha to ask the doctors to record it but it wasn’t permitted.

But 3 months ago when I saw our baby girl for the first time, I knew I’d make up for every lost moment by being there for her, forever. It was like love that I can’t even explain. But Nishtha was in pain and I was busy taking pictures of our daughter from every angle possible! I kid you not, she even smiled at me!

We named her Ekaa–she’s the carbon copy of her handsome father. ‘Ekaa is so cranky with you, she’s much calmer with me,’ I tell Nishtha so I can hold her longer. She falls asleep on my arm as I hum and sing her lullabies. Ekaa can give out the lightest cry and I’ll show up from wherever I am. I’m a horrible dancer but I do a frog dance that she enjoys. She copies my movements and Nishtha video records me acting like a fool!

Before I became a father, I only thought about ‘me’. Now, I think about ‘we’. I’ve learned to drive slower and more carefully with Ekaa. When she finishes her food, I clap for her. I celebrate and find joy in her small achievements. I’ve become more affectionate; I’m always kissing, hugging and carrying her. But most of all, I’m motivated to work hard for my family, to give her everything she could ever want.

When I make eye contact with Ekaa, she looks at me as if I’m the greatest father in the world– and I want to be a good human being for her. Believe me, if ever there’s a love that changes you– it’s this; the love between a parent and a child.”

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“Reshma & I had been on a solid career track since before we became parents. She loved her job, while I ran our family business. She was working throughout her pregnancy; so after Mishika was born she had to juggle motherhood and a full-time job– it got overwhelming for her.

That was also the time when I realised how much I wanted to be around our baby– by the time I got home from work, Mishika would be fast asleep- I was losing out on every special moment. And right after Reshma’s maternity leave ended, she landed the job of her dreams.

I really wanted her to accept the offer, so I told her, ‘I’ll take care of Mishika!’ She was taken aback and said, ‘Are you sure?’ I was a Cardiff graduate who was talking about being a stay-at-home Dad. I convinced Reshma, but the idea didn’t sit well with my parents, ‘What do you want to prove by doing this?’ they asked. It seemed like a no-brainer to me though; I wanted to be home for our daughter and help my wife keep her dream job.

So when Mishika turned 1, I quit the business. My days would start at 4 AM; I’d warm her milk, feed her and rock her back to sleep. Right from her first steps to her first day of preschool, I was by her side. I don’t know when she grew out of the pram and began climbing jungle gyms–time just flew! I’d run after her all day, to get her to eat and finish her homework. I learnt how to braid her hair, and she’d say, ‘You do my hair so well, Papa!’

During evenings in the park, some mothers would treat me like a novelty, and tell me it’s ‘so great’ that I sacrificed my career for our daughter; things they wouldn’t say to other mothers. At other times, I’d get confused stares and questions.

Last year, we threw a party to celebrate Reshma’s promotion. Right after she told me, ‘I couldn’t have without your support.’

Still, my relatives nagged me, saying, ‘What good is a man who can’t earn for his family?’ But who cares about what other people say? I know how well the dynamic was working out for us. Of course, there are frustrating moments, but Mishika is my mirror; she’s just turned 6 and has learned to express herself more clearly. So, when I sound annoyed, she says, ‘It’s ok, Papa. Calm down!’

Now that Mishika is older, I’ve slowly started working from home. Although it feels great, the last 6 years of being a full-time stay at home dad have been far more rewarding than anything else! To know that my daughter is going to be so much closer to me than I am with my own dad makes me happy. People raise their children in different ways, we’re doing it this way. And I’m loving it; I’m loving just being known as ‘Mishika’s Dad.’

Being India’s biggest storytelling platform, Humans of Bombay is all about bringing you extraordinary stories of ordinary people. Today, we bring you these stories of the beautiful bond between fathers and their kids, to remind you how pure that love is! If you’d like to read more such stories, check out our book and dive into the diverse tales of a country with billion beating hearts!


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