“When Sahana turned 4, my world turned around”

“I still remember the first day I held Sahana. I was in the delivery room when the doctor handed her to me. I looked into her button-like eyes and knew I wanted to give her all the happiness in the world. But I got so engrossed in achieving that goal, that my life revolved around work.

I’d travel almost every month for work and even when I was in the city I’d get home after Sahana had already slept. Honestly, I was just trying to be a good provider. But when Sahana turned 4, my world turned around… Sahana’s mother wanted to end our marriage. And she wanted me to have Sahana’s full custody.

It came out of the blue, so I spent months trying to come to terms with it; months of working 24x7, partying and just blocking out what was happening. I was lucky to have a supportive family that looked after Sahana because I was in shambles. Watching her parents get separated was difficult for Sahana, but I was so wrapped up in my own grief that I failed to pay attention to her.

6 months later, I had a wake-up call. Sahana’s principal called me and said, ‘Your daughter is sinking. She hasn’t been paying attention in class and snaps at every little thing.’ After school, when we reached home I got down on my knees and cried; I apologised for my behaviour. All she said was, ‘It’s okay, Papa. I’m here for you!’ I hugged her tight and promised her, ‘I’ll be the kind of father you deserve.’

I got my act together. I learnt about her study schedule and extracurriculars; my schedule revolved around hers. I opted for working from home 3 times a week. I’d go to the gym when she had her swimming classes and cut down my work trips.

And she’s been so patient with me. I remember struggling with her hair at first. My YouTube search history was full of, ‘Easy ways to braid hair’. It took some 5 sittings, but eventually, I got it right. And the best part was Sahana saying, ‘It looks just like Maa’s. Good job, Papa!’ Sahana is 10 years old now. And in these 6 years of being a single parent, everyday feels like an adventure. Each day, I’m met with a new challenge– some days it’s ‘Papa, do these shoes go with my dress?’, while on the others it’s ‘What are periods?’ People often ask me, ‘How do you do it?’ And I just say, we do it together–she’s as much my support as I am hers.

We go for hikes, watch movies and travel; she’s my partner-in-crime! The best part of my day is when we meet at night and just talk. Mostly we’re arguing about which movie’s better–Frozen or Lion King!

Sahana’s very creative, so on every special occasion, she makes a card for me and addresses me as the ‘Best dad ever.’ And that’s what I’m trying to be. I’d made a promise to her once, ‘I’ll be the kind of father you deserve.’ I don’t know if I’m there yet, but everyday, I wake up wanting to fulfil that promise.”

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