There she was playing in the mud in the name of gardening, laughing at something her mom told her. Her soft curls falling into those beautiful hazel eyes as she tried to put them away with the back of her little hands, staining her face in the process. I couldn’t help the smile that formed on my lips, little she was when the nurse placed her in my hands, I was afraid she might fall because of my rough handling.
From that day until today I was always there when she slipped on the wet floor or missed a step. Daddy! She screams as she came to me running and hugging my legs. I lifted her up in the air and I let her try to touch the sky when my hands are spread out to hold her when she comes down and lift her up again. Her giggles were like a therapy to me, stress of the presentation, the deadlines and boss’s firing all was long forgotten. It used to be my happy bubble when I spent my evenings playing with her, teaching her new things. Once she scraped her knee while trying to ride the bicycle for the first time, she cried a lot and it broke me to see her like that, the red bruise and her even redder nose from all the crying. But she was strong she told me after all the crying and next time she will not fail me she said. She stayed true to her words she never failed me.
We always teamed up when it was ice cream, cakes or chocolates. We use to sneak into the kitchen late in the night when my wife was asleep and answer our sweet little cravings. But she would never let me sleep until I brush my teeth because her mom told her that people who do not brush their teeth at night lose their teeth. This weird warmth crept into my stomach when I ever so slowly witness her feet growing to meet the size of my wife’s. She tried to act like her, draping her dupatta on her like a sari or wearing her sandals as she mimicked the way my wife aka her mother spoke. We both laughed at it then. But soon I realized she was growing up, understanding her role in the society. This was scary for me to imagine because I would always love to see her in those pig tails only.
Then the time came when she was turning into a woman as she dressed up before going out, the light mascara and some gloss and things along those lines. My blood boiled at the thought that how many heads will turn her way when she walks down the street. Sometimes I told her to not wear that top because it showed too much skin for my liking, she would just laugh and call me a possessive dad. I was possessive; I am and always will be. I could see the expressions of the guys when I used to drop her at a birthday party. But that is something every father has to learn to deal with if he is a daddy to a girl! I kissed her forehead before I drive off , trying to warn all guys with my hard stare and she would slowly whisper in my ears” don’t give them a hard time dad”. We laughed together at that. I would wait in the veranda until she returned from the party, happy she would tell me all about it and I would pull the comforter over her when she slept. I could not bring myself to move from her bedside, angelic she looked in her slumber. Whenever she caught cold and got fever I would sit beside her and feed her the soup my wife cooked, read stories to her and keep her distracted from the pain. I would get her a new book or a doll just to see that smile light up her face again.
And today here I am standing outside her bedroom as I see my wife fretting and all the other females dressing up my princess for her big day. She found her man and she will be out with him there helping him weave their nest, Leaving mine empty. I won’t see her smile that often now, the voice I am so use to hearing will no longer be heard in the corridors of the house. There will be no one to disturb my peace or dance on ringtones anymore. She won’t be there to tell me that my shirt does not go with my trousers or that my tie is not proper. Neither will I get a chance to cheat again like when we played cards, nor will I hear her laughter when she caught me red handed because my princess will now be a queen. She will be a part of someone’s dream for life and the light in their house. She will have responsibilities to fulfill and roles to play; no longer will she be my daughter only. I wipe my tears as I see her happy in the mirror. It is her time to fly now but this time it won’t be my hand that she is holding, though I will always be there to catch her when she falls, not that her man will let her but after all I am a father to a daughter- a bride now!