Father’s Day for The Orphan
“He is not really himself, nor does he know or love himself: Everything he undertakes is done in hope of making somebody love him in the way he once, as a child, so urgently needed to be loved; but what could not be experienced at the appropriate time in the past can never be attained later on.” — Alice Miller, The Drama of The Gifted Child
Every year this horrendous day comes around and I scroll through my feed like a crazed addict. I feel hostile and resentful of the oh so fortunate friends and family members posing with their fathers. Some people hate Valentine’s Day, some hate Christmas and I, I hate Father’s Day. I loathe it, abhor it with so much intensity that it makes me want to bring the years of pain and rage to the surface, sharpen it into a jagged knife and destroy everything in front of me. Usually during my outbursts I break all the mirrors, or wine glasses in my home and walk across the sharp pieces of glass, leaving the tiny shards embedded into my skin, the blood on the floor.
I lost my father when I was three years old. Do you know the memory I have of him? It’s the only one. The only one I’ve been allowed to keep by the universe. In it, he is lying on a hospital bed. My mom stands by his side. She wears a plain saree. Her face looks gaunt, haunted. And my father, he’s covered up to his waist with this white sheet. He is suffering. The cancer is eating him from the inside. Eating him alive like a flesh eating parasite. He is in excruciating pain, every day. But I don’t know it. I am three. I dance and I laugh and I run through the hallways of the empty, morbid hospital and no one tells me. No one tells me my father is dying. And he says to me, he reaches his hand out, and says, “Ma”. And I respond, “Baba”. It is innate, our connection. He loves me unconditionally. I know it even though I’m three years old.
No one tells you what really happens when you are orphaned as a child. No one tells you that you lose a part of yourself, you lose your community, your safe base. For my mother and I, we lost our home, our freedom. As I grew up I realized I lost my identity. And the parts of yourself that you lose, like pieces of a dusty old puzzle — some pieces you can’t find, ever. They’re gone. You will never get it back. There will always be this gaping hole, empty, hollow.
So I hate Father’s Day.
I remember one night, my ex and I, were at dinner. He loved me, (so much and my God, I never understood why), and he told me the story of seeing his dad after a while. And they went to get haircuts together. And they did other father-son things. I didn’t hear it though. Something happened after his first three sentences. My eyes clouded over, my brain went foggy, I wasn’t with him anymore. I was somewhere, far away, in a dark and painful place. He noticed and stopped the story but it was too late. I felt like throwing myself in front of any incoming train, bus, off a bridge. I couldn’t think.
I hate Father’s Day.