The day my daughter, Gauri, was born and the moment I held her for the first time, I knew I could move heaven and earth to see her happy. She had the softest skin and the prettiest pair of eyes. I could never bear to see tears in them.
With time, she knew she had become my weakness and over the years, she had also become quite skilled at getting things her way. All she had to do was make a puppy face and I would melt. To be honest, I didn't mind her tricks as it was the happiest time of my life.
Gauri was four when I found out my wife was having an affair. I was distressed. We had been married for seven years and were raising a beautiful daughter. I could not come to terms with it—this couldn't be happening tome! I tried to dismiss the thought and decided to give the marriage a second chance, I didn't want my daughter to be raised in a dysfunctional family.
But my wife stayed put, she said she was in love and, 'humari beti ke naseeb mein ab yehi hai!' The latter part of her statement struck home. So, after trying for two years, we parted ways and the judge passed the judgement for the child's custody in my ex-wife's favour.
I was devastated but I didn't want to challenge the court's decision. Neither did I have the financial cushion to support me nor did I want my daughter to spend her weekends attending one hearing after another. She was barely seven and deserved a better childhood. A happy childhood.
Therefore, I decided to make peace with getting to meet her every weekend. We designed a routine, every weekend I would take her to eat burgers and then for desserts we would head over to the dessert parlour. But dropping her off home after a blissful weekend was hard and the days that followed were harder. Sometimes she would call me at night, trying hard not to cry and say, 'I miss you, Papa.'
She didn't like staying over at her mother's place and every time we met, she would plan her escape but I would just humour her. Deep down, I wanted both our wishes to turn to reality..
On her 8th birthday, she refused to cut a cake without me. I had sworn to never enter my ex-wife's house but when I heard my daughter cry on her birthday, I forgot all about it. That day, I put my foot down and told everyone I was going to take her back. I was done living off my weekends with Gauri and clearly, even she wasn't as happy.
I gave them a year to understand the situation and accept it and luckily, we celebrated Gauri's 9th birthday together, at my place! It was Mother's Day a week after and she made a card for me that read, 'Happy Mother's Day, Papa.' I couldn't hold it in anymore and we both cried. At times, we need to get those emotions out, for our vulnerabilities often help in building lost-lasting relationships. Since then, we have both settled in very well. I have learnt to make her favourite dishes and have become an expert at giving champis and making braids.
It's just the two of us but so we do everything together, from watching movies to making stupid videos. I try to fill in all the roles in her life - I try to tend to her like a mother, fight with her like a sibling and care for her like a father.
In return, she has become my guide and my best friend, carefully listening to everything I have to say and like any other best friend, she tries to be my wing-woman - 'Get married now, Papa. I think she can be new mamma.'