Dear Abba, I Hate To Say It But I Love You Despite Everything

By The Mango Tree | 15 Sep, 2016

Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are those of the author’s and don’t necessarily represent or reflect the views of MangoBaaz.

By: Anonymous


Dear Abba,

Sab kehtay hain kay un kay abba dunya kay sab se achay abba hain. Laikin aap ne mujhay naap tol ker, soch samajh ker bolna sikhaya hai.

That feels strange, saying that I learnt something from you.


I don’t think I did it consciously – I have always believed myself to be too different, too much my ‘own’ rather than yours. But I am your daughter- irrevocably so. So today I will not say that you are the best father in the whole world. I will say, though, that you try to be a good father and in a way, that is enough. You do the things you believe good fathers should do and I think that’s enough cause for you to be celebrated. You try, abba, and I don’t think I should take that for granted. So I love you, I do.

I don’t have many childhood memories but I remember taking your coat when you came back from work and that familiar, safe scent, that absurd pride of knowing my abba always smelt good. I remember also that once you said you have three mothers: daadi, ammi and me. You had come back from work and were having dinner and I was still awake then, even though it was late. You were tired and I was asking a lot of questions. You said it with a smile so I knew you weren’t annoyed but maybe slightly amused. Too tired to humor me entirely but not enough to shut me down. That’s the abba I remember, kind and patient and encouraging, the abba who bought me books and showed my most trivial achievements off to anyone who would listen.


I have other memories too like that time when I was 17 and you had found out about aapa’s boyfriend.


She was resisting her marriage to our cousin and you were angry and upset. She was crying all day and I was supposed to be on your side. I didn’t understand everything completely. Or maybe I did but you still had a hold over my opinions. I hadn’t yet realized that parents are also fallible. You still haven’t realized it, papa. You forced aapa into it. I remember how much she cried at the nikkah. I remember ammi said that she was making a scene and I wondered why her heart wasn’t breaking at the sound of aapa’s sobs. When she tried to get a divorce, I saw a side of you I knew existed but one I had never imagined. It was worse than I had expected. You hit her, and you hit ammi because it was her tarbiyat that made aapa turn out this way, you said. Aapa has two girls now. Two more girls in this family.

I remember how you sat me down and warned me of the repercussions if I tried to pull the same stunt as my sister. I hadn’t done anything, you had no reason to warn me. Except that you believe that females are ticking bombs, waiting to defy you. That they should be shut down and crushed before they even develop any dangerous ideas about owning their bodies and their futures. I was supposed to go to Spain that year with my school. You told me I could not go because my sister had broken your trust and you couldn’t purposely put yourself in a situation where you constantly worried about me doing the same.


That night, when you hit her, I remember writing “these are not my men” over and over again, in my diary.


But you are, abba. We will always be bound together. That night I realized that you probably didn’t believe in education as an intrinsic right for women, but a privilege granted to them by the men in their lives. That was when I first understood that respectable men didn’t believe in hitting women- unless they deserved it, unless they needed reminding of who was really in charge.

Over the years I have separated myself from you, in my ideas, my beliefs, the people I surround myself with. But even as I perceive myself as an infinitesimal speck in a godless, chaotic, heaven/hell-less universe, I am tied to you. Not only am I also married to a cousin of your choice, your happiness still matters to me. When I think about how to get out of this marriage, I imagine what it will do to you, what you will do to me. And that is terrifying abba. I have always been the favorite daughter, the one you have showered praise and adoration on. I am spoilt for your affection and approval and I always want it. For the last year and a half abba, wanting your approval has cost me my mental health, my control over my own body, the big and small freedoms that you had granted me like being able to choose what time I came back home from university (with the promise that I WOULD come home), if and when I could meet my friends, go to sleep, read for leisure or go watch a play.


You have married me to a man who, when he touches me, makes my skin crawl.

Source: EROS Now

I have slept with him for a year and a half now, abba, and every night I imagine hitting him over the head repeatedly until he can never touch me again. Abba, he believes all the things you believe for your wife, that a woman’s place is at home, her social life an unnecessary modern day nuisance, her body to serve men’s needs, her worth in her chastity and her ability to give all of herself up for you. I know that I cannot explain to you what is wrong with all of this. What you should understand is that you can’t educate a girl and let her explore a little of the world and then expect her to fit in a wife box. That was unfair, abba. You shouldn’t have let me out of the house. You did all the things you thought good fathers should do but you can’t be two kinds of father, abba. You can’t give me rights and then ask me to give them back as a declaration of my love for you.

Somehow in all the things you taught me and all the things I ended up learning on my own, I never found out how to ask for help. How to ask for help and not cringe when someone offers support, at the thought of exposing my weaknesses, my pathetic little sob story. I have always trivialized everything that makes me unhappy and I didn’t realize this until I read a book that gave me a word for this feeling. My problems are small gods and all other problems are big gods. I should ‘skip at the relative smallness of my misfortune’, because all I am dealing with are a few restrictions on what I wear and how long I stay out of the house. At least he doesn’t hit me, at least I am not poor, at least he is man enough to earn a living instead of wasting away his life in booze and prostitutes.

I am sorry to say abba that you failed to raise me as someone who would be happy with just that- a comfortable lifestyle and a man who doesn’t hit me so long as I recognize and submit to his authority, a man who might even have fallen in love with me- or at least the version of me I am forced to act, of the self sacrificing female with no needs or desires of her own. I wish you knew what your confused parenting has done to me. I am a self hating, easily panicked yet unable to ask for help, eternally tired, miserable little girl.

I miss you abba, I miss being ten years old and you encouraging me to be and say whatever I wanted to, unlike today where you keep telling me to make myself smaller and smaller so I can fit into what is expected of me.


Except abba, the expectation from women is invisibility and you can’t undo seventeen years of upbringing with a nikkahnama. You didn’t raise me to be invisible. Please understand that I am so, so thankful for that, and that through this entire episode I have never once questioned your love for me. I see it in the way you light up when I come over, in the way you insist that you watch me eat and in the way you still introduce me with a “ye jee mera genius bacha hai”. I am unhappy, abba, and I have begun to resent you, and I love you too much to risk feeling that way about you permanently.

I miss you abba, please be my father, my protector, my supporter. Please be my abba.



Your ‘genius’ bachi.



18 Times Your Abba Was The Reason You Have Unrealistically High Expectations Of Men



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Cover image via: Geo TV

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