Daddy's Little Girl

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To my darling daughter, I love you.

When you are born, I held you my arms and just kept smiling at you.

Your big eyes, wide open full of love, you were such a sweet and beautiful baby.

Now I watch you grow up and become your own person, I look at you, your laughter, your happiness, your simplicity, and I want to tell you that I am so proud of you.

I forever pray for your happiness and wish you all the best in this new journey that you are about to embark.

I will always be there for you and I want you to remember that you always be my little girl. God bless you.

Love Baba

Before he gave me away my father wrote me this letter and I have cherished it ever since, because to me it is the sincerest thing I will ever read. No matter what, Baba will always be an important person in my life, because his love for me is eternal and I will ALWAYS be Daddy’s Little Girl.

Ever since the day my father gave me away he has burdened himself with guilt because he considers himself responsible for ruining my life. I know him as a man of integrity, the man who goes the extra mile to help others and has a selfless heart. But Baba is also slightly meticulous and difficult at times as he is very headstrong and always has the final say.

In most South-Asian communities a girl is seen as a burden, or believed to be an outsider who will eventually marry on and move into a new family. Any investment made on her is a waste, as only the family she finally marries into would savor the returns. But when I was born, my father saw me as anything but a burden, he was the proudest man and spoke of his daughter as a precious ‘Gift from God’, a ‘diamond’ that he named MARZANA.

I was treated like a gem - the heart and soul on the household. My father worked hard to provide the best for his family and wanted the give his children the finest lifestyle, we lived in a nice house, went on great holidays and I had the perfect childhood. So it was not normal for my father to make this decision when I knew how much he really cared for me. I was not less than a boy in his eyes, in fact I was his heartbeat and he loved me very dearly.

For a long time now, I have wondered why my father did what he did, it has made me feel so many emotions throughout the years and had a huge impact on my mindset. It is only now that I can truly say that I have found peace and understand why my father gave me away so young, the truth is, he wanted to protect me from the damning eyes of our community. I’m sure some of you can relate, but growing up, there was always aunties and uncles talking about how ‘number 44’s’ daughter was seen with a boy down the street. Like other parents, my parents were scared of their children becoming the topic of conversation and this is probably why they were so strict on us siblings.

Gossip is a powerful thing in our Bengali culture, it can give you a bad name, regardless of how good you actually are and the reality is our community talk to each other when it comes relaying gossip they have heard, the first thing someone will ask when looking to get their son’s married is ‘is this girl good?’ I guess this is what my father was so scared of – me getting a bad reputation and it harming my future, so as wrong as he was, he believed he was protecting me by getting me married. Now that I have grown up, I no longer think how could Baba do this to me? Now the only thing that comes to my mind is how scared he must have been of someone tarnishing my reputation and shaming me to the point that no one would think I was good or came from a good family. You may think he is very egotistic, but now I understand that he was a victim of this culture. It scared him so much that it influenced his mentality to make-believe that it was crucial to wed me young, to protect my reputation, in case people talked about me turning too ‘western’.

As I analyse this episode of my life, I feel like it wasn’t really my Baba that gave me away. He is a very analytical man with the ‘do it right or don’t do it at all’ attitude. I say this because I know my father -he would never do anything half-heartedly, yet he got me married to a stranger at 18, but he never told me how to be a bride, a daughter in law or wife. Now how could that be? Probably because he never wanted to give me away, but felt like he had to, because the pressure of protecting his daughter from a bad reputation was crippling him. To me it is clear his hear wasn’t really ready, that why this marriage was done in a sloppy way - very unlike my father.

And I guess, when I came back home to stay for a few days, he found it easy to keep it and end this marriage so easily, even though the consequences of his action would do what he was desperately trying to avoid – tarnishing my name. But he finally didn’t care anymore.

On my return he wrote me a second letter:

I’m sorry Baba. I know you will get through this. Things may not seem to be working out for you right now but I know you’ll make the best of the situation I know that you keep on doing everything you can day at a time and you’ll get through this triumphantly know that I am thinking of you and I love you.

Baba has been my greatest mentor. He has taught me many lessons and if there were one person in this entire world that I could believe in with my eyes shut, it would be him. What hurt me was to see this bold personality break. He lost faith in himself and his judgment of character because he could not believe that he made a mistake. It was as if he owed something to me now and to rectify his ‘fault’ he set me free. Seeing him loose his mojo made me feel like I needed to turn my life around, I had a bull’s-eye in sight and I knew I had to hit the ground running and the only way I could have done this was by burying my past, which I did with a tonne of bricks.

It seemed liked my parents also wanted me to forget everything because they went from one extreme to another and gave me all the freedom in the world. Dad did not want me to let my past affect the future, he gave me my life and the right to live it.

Marzana Rahman