Soniya Murhe questions whether millennials are taking important human emotions for granted…

“Hey, Dadddddd….” I sang the moment I picked up the call.

“Hey sunshine, what’s going on?” Dad asked. “Just packing my stuff. The exams were hectic. God, I am so glad that we got two extra weeks off. I can relax and enjoy a little more…” I ambled on secretly thankful to the sudden renovation of our college. “Alright sweetie, make sure you don’t forget anything. And carry some food along for the way. Don’t eat anything….”

I cut him off, “Ya dad. Please stop. I am a grown up now. I can take care of myself.” I don’t understand why every time our parents treat us like we’re five-year-olds. I shook my head and continued, “Alright I have to go. I will call you once I reach. Okay?” Without waiting for his response I hung up. I was so excited. Finally holidays! “Are you done? If yes, come and help me… And if No, still come and help me.” I saw my roommate Riya standing in the door with two bottles of soda and a pizza box – smiling sheepishly. “Well. Let’s see. You ditched your packing time to go out and catch a movie with your boyfriend. Seems like you have to go home in what you are wearing.” I snorted and turned back. “Oh come onnnn… I am sorry. It’s just that we won’t meet for three weeks now. And look I got you your favourite pizza. With extra cheese. And with extra ketchup sachets.” She grinned and waited. She knew me too well. And there was no way I was about to compromise a free pizza.

It’s just that we won’t meet for three weeks now. And look I got you your favourite pizza.

“So… What are your plans? Family get-togethers? Picnics?” She asked as I munched on the last slice. “Nah, dude. I have a whole other list. My school friends are having a reunion. So they’re all planning to go to Goa for a week. And then my childhood bestie and I are planning to go to my Nana’s place. Her elder sister is getting married.” I smiled as I thought about how much I missed my school friends. I guess the last time all of us were together was during our farewell party. “And what about your parents? Won’t you wanna spend time with them?” Riya asked sceptically. I shrugged, “I have spent the last 20 years of my life with them. Finally, I am in college, with a new life. I need and deserve my freedom now.”

She didn’t push me further and I knew my nonchalant attitude didn’t sit too well with her. Riya being the eldest of three siblings in her family has always been way too close with her family. Unlike me. I never understood why people make such a big deal out of staying away from the family. We have to live practically. I mean, I love my family. It’s just that I simply prefer having a balance in that emotional investment. We finished our packing and left for the station.

I never understood why people make such a big deal out of staying away from the family. We have to live practically. I mean, I love my family—I really do!

The train arrived on time—quite a surprise. I was just dragging my bag towards the waiting room that I heard someone shout my name. I looked up to see my Dad rushing his way towards me through the crowd and a minute later, a bear hug greeted me followed by a swirl. I giggled as I always did for this was one thing my dad never forgot to do. “Dad…Let me down. We will fall. I am not a kid now.”

He sighed and smiled, “That’s for the world. For me, you’re still the cutest toddler ever.” I rolled my eyes, “Okay let’s go. I’m bushed and hungry as hell.” “Great! Cause Mom has made your favourite Chicken Biryani”, Dad smiled. “Oh wow. And can we also take some Chinese on our way? I have not had good Chinese since so long.” I waited and for some reason, I felt I saw a flash of something in his eyes. I couldn’t fathom it. And before I could ask, Dad picked up my bags and we walked towards the exit.

My favourite Chinese outlet was a bit crowded. We placed our order and waited. Dad asked me if I would have ice cream later. I nodded and he left to get it. I sat there looking at the paintings that hung above the counter. A happy sound distracted me – it was a small girl clapping and laughing. I was about to look away, but the girl’s smile held me right there. With big excited eyes, she was waiting for their order to arrive. As she sat dangling her legs, the waiter placed a plate of noodles in front of her. She searched for someone in the crowd and waved impatiently. A man walked towards her with two glasses of water in his hand. He sat down beside her and patted her head. He picked up the fork and started feeding her the noodles. “Daddy, why are you not eating? It’s so yummyyyy” she said. He again patted her head and wiped the sauce away from her cheek, “I am not hungry sweetheart. Daddy just had lunch and has to go back to work. Now come on, have this quick and Daddy will drop you back home.”

As she sat dangling her legs, the waiter placed a plate of noodles in front of her. She searched for someone in the crowd and waved impatiently. A man walked towards her with two glasses of water in his hand.

Somehow this perfectly normal conversation between the two of them seemed to bug me a little and as I stared, it struck me why. The little girl was dressed in a shabby frock with shoes quite bigger for her. Her father was dressed in an old dirty long shirt and pants. His flip-flops were not something that you would call decent footwear. It was obvious that he was a construction worker. As his daughter continued eating blissfully, he gulped down the glass of water in front of him. He got up and walked outside near the water dispenser. He pulled out a small packet of biscuit and ate two of them quickly. Gulping another glass of water, he walked back towards his daughter who sat there totally unaware of what happened. She finished her noodles and jumped down the chair happily. “Yayyyy daddyyy… It was sooo niceeeee. You kept the promise daddyyy… You are theeee besttt,” the girl sang with the brightest smile. As they walked out of the place, my eyes followed them till they disappeared and something kicked me in the gut. All it took was that one tiny soul to bring me home. The way she looked at her dad like he was a superhero, made me feel ashamed of everything that I had done. We as ‘the millennials‘ tend to see things so practically that we usually take the most important things for granted. God knows how many dinners or lunches that man must have sacrificed to see that look of adoration on his daughter’s face.

All it took was that one tiny soul to bring me home. The way she looked at her dad like he was a superhero, made me feel ashamed of everything that I had done. We as ‘the millennials’ tend to see things so practically that we usually take the most important things for granted.

Our parents might be different in terms of professions, wealth and social status. But one thing that brings all of them to the same level is their unconditional and unadulterated love for their kids. From the very beginning of the sleepless nights, they could do anything, be anything for us. For them, they see the universe in our eyes and sunshine in our smile. They nourish us, protect us and mould us to be a better human being– at the cost of their dreams and desires.

Gap Year

And we feel like it’s their ‘responsibility’ to do all that stuff for us. What we fail to see is that it’s the truest form of love one can ever hold. And till the time we understand this, we lose so much of the time. And at times, we are too late. They say realisation hits hard and heaven knows it’s true. As I was reeling in the after effects of that, I felt somebody shaking my arm. I looked to see my dad with an anxious expression talking something to me. It was then I felt the tears trickle down my cheeks. “Honey are you okay? What’s wrong? Are you hurt? Tell me! Say something sunshine. You’re scaring me now….” his panic was rising. As I continued looking at him, I saw the things that I hadn’t noticed earlier. He might have coloured his hair but the wrinkles and shadows under the eyes spoke loudly of the years of sacrifice.

What we fail to see is that it’s the truest form of love one can ever hold. And till the time we understand this, we lose so much of the time.

“Dad!” my voice broke, “I don’t want the Chinese.”

He looked confused, “Then what do you want? Tell me. We will get it now.”

“No. What I meant is that, I love you, dad. And I missed you so much. And I missed Mumma too. I love you both so much. I don’t want this Chinese. I want to have the Biryani mumma made.” I rattled trying to make sense of what I just realized. His expression turned softer and he hugged me. “We missed you too sunshine. Let’s go. Mumma’s been waiting. And we love you too. Always have. Always will.” As we walked back towards the car, I knew for sure what this vacation would be like and I knew exactly with whom I wanted to spend it.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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