“The conversation about my father was always something that embarrassed me ever since my childhood. My parents got separated when I was a little girl. Theirs was an inter-religion marriage and in 90s, it was not something common. I never really got the right answers from my mother who raised me. Whatever information she provided was bare minimum. She was focused on her job, to provide for me. I grew up feeling incomplete, without a proper family. I was always curious as a child and that gave me some sense of independence. Since the age of 13 or 14, I used to take buses alone, travel long and come back alone. With time, this was sometimes in search of my father, to places I thought he’d be at. When I joined Ethiraj college for my undergraduate studies, I felt terrible looking at how some of the kids would debate about whose father was a bigger, more popular figure in society. My curiosity and search intensified. Archana was a good friend who understood me. From whatever little I shared with her about my father’s whereabouts and details, we closed in on the congested streets of Royapettah and regularly went there to search. It was difficult. We were two girls and enquiring about a muslim man made the locals suspect us. For the three years of my under-graduation the search continued, every Saturday. We finished the course. I got a job and she was getting ready for her Master’s. There was no progress in our search. I accepted that this was not going to happen,” writes Priya. “On 19th May 2013, I got a call from Archana. ‘Padhu, I think I found his address,’ she said. I was excited! She had asked a shopkeeper and had found his whereabouts. In the next 30 minutes I reached the place. I was finally able to picturise my perfect family moment. I was happy I could bring my father to my wedding. And that everyone would be together in a family photo. The shopkeeper asked us to go the first floor of the rickety building adjacent to his shop, probably built in late 70s. My heart raced as we reached the door. It was almost 22 years long that he was going to see someone from his past. I was clueless as to how he or his current family would react to a Hindu daughter coming from his previous marriage. While I was lost in my thoughts, Archana was at the door, calling, ‘Sir …’ And then a sharp voice came up, ‘yes, open the door.’ As I opened the door, I saw an old man. I asked, ‘Sir, Jaffar?’ Smilingly he said, ‘yes, that’s me.’ The father-daughter connection was instant. I opened up about my identity for which he replied he knew I was his daughter but never knew my name or anything else. I hugged him tight as tears rolled down my cheeks. We spent hours talking about everything I wanted to share with him in the 22 years of my life. I clicked just one picture with him that day. Days passed, we did not meet another time and he passed away. I never made any effort to connect with his other family, nor did they with me; I want it to continue like that. While I couldn’t bring him to my wedding, my longing was finally fulfilled. In the years that followed, I happily married my boyfriend and had my own child. It is strange as never did he ever question me about my father during the time we dated. It is only now that you ask me I realise that nobody ever held the issue against me. It was me, who was completely consumed by this person I never had in life. For others, they treated me normally, just like how they’d treat other girls. I am glad I have had such people around,” concludes Priya in her story.
This is a brave woman for sorting out differences irrespective of her opinions and hesitation, she knew love was more powerful. What do you think of her beautiful story?