It was after a long day of hard work. As usual I opened my apartment door to the aroma of something amazing from the kitchen. My wife was busily making her famous chicken curry. I slumped down on the sofa and propped my feet on the table and flicked the TV open. Then I took my phone and started scrolling through the news feed.
“There’s a bunch of mails on the table. Could you sort through it?” My wife requested. She has to repeat it several times to get my attention.
As I rummaged through the envelopes, one brown colored one caught my eye. I opened it to find it addressed as….
Today’s your day. The day that fathers are praised. The day we tell them how amazing they have been, how much they have sacrificed, how much time they have spent to make their beloved kids and family happy.
I have faint memories of you driving me to school and Quran classes in hot sunny days, and heavily rainy ones. I remember how happy I was when you first took me fishing. I can recall how overjoyed I was when you taught me how to ride a bike. My favorite day was when we went camping together and watched as the sun rose at the age of 6. Up until today, I hold those sweet memories of you and me close to my heart.
As your only child I was a joy to you. You made me feel like the luckiest kid in the entire planet by buying me all sorts of things. You wanted to give me so much that, little did you knew that you were unintentionally spoiling me. As an excited five year old boy, I accepted that flying helicopter and showed it off to my friends as they watched it enviously.
For my 8th birthday I was given a mobile phone when my friends enjoyed puzzle games from their parents. I was so happy and felt so loved.
For my 10th birthday, you took me to Disney Land which was like paradise for me. I was so over the moon. I couldn’t have asked for a better present. My friends told me I am the luckiest kid to have the greatest dad in the world. As I kept asking for more, you kept giving me more in return.
As I started middle school things started to get different. School started giving me more works and you couldn’t sit down with me to help because of your new job which made you work longer hours. I was so disappointed that you couldn’t pick me up from school. It started to get lonely when you couldn’t be with me during dinner time. As school presented me with tougher challenges I was in the constant need of a person to talk to. I feared I was losing you. Neither you nor my mom seemed to have enough time.
But you continue to shower me with ipads, ipods and all of the coolest thing a kid in this generation could have. It was exciting at first. But when I look up after a game of “candy crush”, it pains me to see you engrossed in your smart phone, call after call and texts after texts. I used to wait until you get a free time but the endless beeps never seemed to cease.
I realized later why you were giving me expensive gifts. It was to compensate for the time that you couldn’t give me. How dare you think that money could buy happiness for me!
Days passed by without us saying a word to each other. Not because you were angry at me, but because you simply didn’t have enough time. You were so wrapped up in your work that you hired a tuition teacher to help me. Didn’t you know I would rather have you? As weeks turned into months it somehow became normal for me. The friend I once found in you was completely gone. We became just two ordinary people living under the same roof and eating at the same table.
As I made my way through secondary school, I was constantly battling my inner self. The violent little monster inside my mind made me so tired some days. Have you forgotten the mind of a teenager dad? How you wanted to push everyone away but deep inside you wanted someone to talk to? But you weren’t there. You didn’t understand me.
You started yelling when I didn’t do my works. When I got in trouble for skipping a class in high school you sat down with me and gave me a 2 hour lecture on how immature I was. You gave me an earful of how much time you work per day, how much you were earning, how much of your salary you were paying for the bills and how I was being so irresponsible and reckless to throw it all away. It was as if I didn’t know how important it was all for you. Did you know how hurt I was? Not once did you praise me for getting a good grade but when I got in trouble in school you burned me with guilt!
Do you know how many times I come home from school and wait for you to ask me how my day went? Not once you were interested. Do you know how I longed to hear a compliment from you about my progress in school? I don’t remember a single time.
All I wanted to hear was the words of praise, encouragement for the next semester filled with love and kindness. Not a million dollar worth congratulation wrapped up in a box with a bow!
So forgive me for being such a shame. Forgive me for not bringing you good name. I am sorry I couldn’t get a job like you. I’m sorry I wasn’t successful like all your friends’ children. I’m sorry for being such a failure. I’m sorry for bringing you down. And I’m sorry for ending up behind bars. The truth is I don’t exactly remember how I really got here. I was so lost. So dear dad, glance up from your screen for once in your life and ask yourself. What could you have possibly done to create a monster like me?
Once upon a time best friend.
I sat frozen after reading the letter. I didn’t even realize when my wife came and took it out of my hands.
As I thought about the past, I realized he was right. No matter how proud I was about him I have never told him that. I have never really appreciated it. I never thought it would cause this, much effect. I never thought he went through all that. When I thought back to those days, I saw a good ordinary looking kid going to school and coming home and doing his work peacefully. I thought everything was alright. I thought he would ask me if he had any thing to talk about.
“But did you give any chance for him to ask.” The question deepened the wound more than ever.
I realized this is not just a day for children to praise their father. It is a day for us, fathers to evaluate our behavior towards our children.
PS: To all 20+ “kids”: Now don’t go on a rampage and shout at your fathers for everything. They have raised you the best they could and you better be thankful for it. Respect them for it. This letter is on behalf of all the little kids who are out there silently craving for some attention from their dads.