Guest writer Jeeger Dodhia explains how he’s feeling as the new year begins – loving his daughter and remembering the baby he lost.
Surreal, fascinating, ineffable, sacred – fatherhood.
Almost five years on and these emotions remain unrivalled. Watching her sleep remains an idyllic moment – to think that we had the fortune of bringing her into the world, the responsibility of shaping her future, instilling values and permeating joy. She is mischievous, pushes the boundaries, can be mildly vengeful but there is something about her; my unconditional love for has led to new depths of tolerance.
Situations that I would react vociferously in now pass with a wry smile, my bluster has been replaced by serenity and my priorities have been remodelled. The changes have been effortless and passive; they feel natural, life before her is unrecognisable.
What is it about her? Is it even about her? Perhaps its the change in me when I have been entrusted with the stewardship of another soul; the virtuous responsibility to create an environment where one wants for nothing. Her birth was a euphoric moment; setting eyes on her for the first time felt like nirvana; the gushing emotions as our eyes locked and the chills as she sought to twist my finer.
This twist was symbolic to the tug on my heartstrings as she playfully looked away in search for her mum. It was then that the unsurpassable nature of motherhood was even more visible. The divine relationship between a child and their mother is inexplicable. A mother’s ability to console is supernormal; the mere tone of her voice, the touch of her hand, the expression on her face all have nurturing characteristics. Her love for the child is non-rivalrous and boundless and yet unmatched by the child’s love for her.
Love for the father pales in comparison. Dichotomous love usually fades over time, but in this instance despite being subordinated to her mother, I am insouciant. What is this love of fatherhood, which remains intact and multiplies, even if not fully reciprocated? Her progress and achievements feel like her own yet her tribulations and struggles feel raw and personal. Her popularity and friendships are her successes, yet her fights and solitude cause me pain and anguish.
Fatherhood has brought humility; the reason for living has changed; the beneficiary of life’s decisions is no longer the same; the heir to my choices is now my child. Albeit not in spirit, losing my first child had prepared me for fatherhood; the mixed emotions of that journey from anticipation to despair remain vivid. He will live on forevermore in our hearts and she embodies him in many ways. She has given me new purpose and ambition.
To create a lasting legacy for her, which goes beyond wealth and power is now my aim. Fatherhood will never be the same as motherhood. A child’s love for their mother cannot compete with that for their father, but equally, a father’s love for their child is immeasurably empowering and enriching. Seeing the bond between her and her mother has invigorated me and given me the confidence that even if there are slips along the journey, failure is simply not an option.
A girl’s father is the first man in her life, and probably the most influential.
Her name is Aaruhi and his was Aditya.