‘When does a dad go wrong? And when he does, can he ever forgive himself?’
So I wrote in a post here four years ago, recalling an incident from the life of my daughter (and mine) when she was a tiny tot. I can assure my readers that the incident is still as vivid in my mind as if it happened yesterday.
And now my daughter is going to be eighteen in a few months’ time, and I have nearly had a quarrel with her (as close as we can ever come to quarrelling, that is, and that has never happened till now), and had to say ‘no’ to something she very badly wanted to do, and all I can say is that it broke my heart to do it, and I shall never know whether I did the right thing or not, but being the kind of father I am, I just couldn’t help it.
As my daughter wrote in a recent blogpost of hers, she participated on behalf of her school in a ‘peer guide training’ programme for a travelling exhibition organised in Kolkata by the world-renowned Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She apparently made a mark on them, because they contacted her later on and asked her to write for their newsletter, which she did. Events rolled on, until just a few weeks ago they called her to say she was invited to attend a one-week international students’ conference in August at Anne Frank House itself, all expenses paid. Naturally she was ecstatic at the opportunity – I do not know too many people of her age anywhere who can boast of as much earned entirely by their own merit – and I virtually gave her permission to go. And then I had to backtrack, alas! I shall spare my readers the details, but suffice it to say that I found out she had to travel to and fro entirely alone, and I had banked on an ex student of mine who lives close to Amsterdam to keep an eye on her, but as luck would have it, it turned out that he wouldn’t be there at that time. I realized I simply couldn’t take the risk – as I told my daughter, I am just a timid old stick in the mud – and though I even for a while considered the possibility of going over with her, I eventually rejected it as being just too impractical.
So now she has been bitterly disappointed, and had to tell Anne Frank House that she isn’t coming. They have been very nice about it. It is of course entirely possible that she will get such an invitation again in future, and if my prayers and blessings count for anything at all, she will get many similar opportunities in the years to come. She has been kind enough to say she has forgiven me, and even that on second thoughts she feels it would indeed have been too big a risk to take, and in any case she has already turned her mind to the holiday trips we have planned, and the exams ahead. But she also knows that baba will be sorry and feel guilty for the rest of his life.
Why does the Almighty test fathers so sorely?