“Excerpts” Part 8 : A Letter To My Father

Yes, I am angry and despise you for all that you made me go through. But Papa, I understand all of it. I love you and I will continue to love you, even on days when I don’t want to.

Hello Papa. How are you? I hope the winters have been kinder to you than they have been to me. You called me last Tuesday, a year after I left home. I didn’t know what to say, and I know you had nothing much to offer either. But for the very first time in a long time, your voice felt tender – like that of a parent. I did not hear the smashing of plates or your slurs or the manhood you would impose on me. I heard my father speak to me and I wondered what could’ve possibly flashed before your eyes. So here I am, writing to you to tell you all the things I could not tell you over the phone and over the entire span of my life.

I miss you. I miss the man you were before you discovered I could never be a man like you. But believe me when I write this, I am more ferocious and twice as brave as any man. But you withdrew your love the moment you came across my truth and folded your palms into fists only to tear me apart bit by bit. And for that, I have despised you for the longest time. For you, it might have been just another Tuesday when you decided to pick up the phone and call me. For me, it was my entire childhood and adolescence that flashed before my eyes – the same eyes that have yearned to look at you looking back at me; the same eyes that cried because of you and for you.

What did I ever do to deserve the cruelty that you brought on to me? What did I ever do to not be enough? So, I took all the shame and guilt I brought to your boiling masculinity away, along with myself and went far away. The cities we are in are just a bus ride away, but despite that, you will never be able to reach me. Mumma calls me, despite the silences, and urges me to come back and Didi visits often. But you held on to what you believed in. You held on to everything you were forced to believe in but it never occurred to you what it would mean to me if you could’ve stood up for me just for once. You held on to your biases and ‘principles’ and forgot that I am your child – your own blood that you did not mind spilling. But I tried to blur it out of my memory and reach out to you only to realize that you had shut me out. I don’t fear this cruel world anymore because you showed me to what extent people can go with their hatred. You did not just cut me off, you cut me off from my mother and my childhood. You took away so much and now you want to know how I have been.

To be honest, the day I left home was the worst day of my life. I had nothing to build myself from. I have been beaten up and assaulted and humiliated but I have fought back anyone who has laid a finger on me. I have retaliated and resisted and I have gotten up every time I found myself on the ground. So yes, I have been through hell but I have found my way back. I have built a life here. I have found people you would never approve of but these are the people who have showered me with love and warmth. I have found someone who truly loves me and is there for me. I have built myself up and made a life here. I have found home in people, but more importantly, I have found a home in myself.

Yes, I am angry and despise you for all that you made me go through. But Papa, I understand all of it. I love you and I will continue to love you, even on days when I don’t want to. The world wanted you to become someone else too. Your so-called principles were forced down your throat while your hands were tied behind your back. I understand what you went through and all I wished was for you to make a different choice. I know calling me out of the blue was not easy for you. Mumma tells me how you still go into my old room at times and just sit there for a while. And believe me, I want to come back home and fall into your arms again – just like how it was back when I was 7. But I think I need some time and I think you need some too. Yes, I am angry and hurt and tired and it will take some time for me to get back to you. Maybe, maybe, we will be able to find a middle ground because I do forgive you, but I need time for myself to heal too.

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Sarthak is a photographer, writer and visual artist originally from Shimla and currently based in Delhi. Through his works, he aims to portray themes pertaining to identity, alienation, anger and, most importantly, hope.
Sarthak Chauhan

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