#Personal Stories

You Are Your Biggest Priority: Healing Through Writing

Divya Gupta Kotawala
When I decided to write my first book My Dad’s Daughter it wasn’t out of passion or choice, in fact, I made this big decision after losing my dad, before that I was always a simple happy-go-lucky typical Delhiite.

Born on 13th January 1982 on the auspicious day of Lohri, my life was always full of love, we were a simple, modern yet close-knit family of four, and everything around me was always very comfortable and convenient. Thanks to my dad who always kept family as his priority. He made sure I joined his school Modern School Barakhamba Road and later went to his college St. Stephen College to pursue honours in history. Every time there was an issue regarding girls’ freedoms and opportunities available to them, he would fight with my mom for me.

He even allowed me to join NIFT after college to follow my passion in fashion design but was very clear to marry me young and prepare me for the same. As modern was he in his approach, as traditional was he when it came to his love for his daughter he always wanted me to be safe and secure. No wonder he promised my hand to a family friend’s son, Manish, with the same feeling. Soon after I had my daughter Manya who made me so busy that post that there was just no looking back.

Suddenly life had a new meaning, new responsibilities and teachings, as a young mom I literally grew with her every day, and was always super proud to be a complete hands-on mother to her, today she is a teenager and the duties continue just that in a very different look altogether.

All these years what kept me occupied were responsibilities at home, my daughter, working with my husband as a director in his company and founder of my jewellery brand House of Kotawala. But what gave me happiness and contentment was to spend quality time with all my loved ones, be it family, especially mom dad and friends. Being an extrovert by nature I always enjoyed being surrounded by people and it filled me with so much happiness to be able to do anything at all that I could for anyone to them. Moreover, as a person who cannot sit idle, I always had something to keep me busy and forever on my toes, there were days I used to manage not one but 3-4 commitments with great energy and a smile on my face and I would never crib.

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Since my childhood my father remained my biggest inspiration, be it education, his networking skills, or his personality, I not only admired all these traits in him, but I eventually found most of them developing in me too, something that I am very proud even today. He taught me the biggest and most valuable lessons of life that I shall cherish and follow till I live. Treating people with respect, being helpful and being forever available for those we love is something that made my dad truly unique and special in my life.

We shared a beautiful bond, we both had a sweet tooth and we often lied to my mom to steal that one extra piece of mithai from the box. Our love for seasonal fruits like mangoes, lychees and custard apple or relishing butter chicken with hot crisp naan was so special, that even today that taste I can feel in my mouth every time I think of those beautiful days with dad.

No wonder losing him to covid last year unexpectedly shattered me completely, he was my guide and suddenly I was lost, all alone, left to deal with so much grief, pain, stress and of course added responsibilities for what I wasn’t prepared for. A once super outgoing and social person like me went into a deep shell of mourning, not wanting to meet or see anyone at all for months. For days and weeks, I questioned myself why god chose me to go through this pain, I wasn’t the only one during the pandemic but there were so many who were still safe and unaffected then Why me ??? As I began to look for answers I suddenly felt a strong will to write a book on my dad, at first it felt odd, difficult as close to as impossible but as I began this journey there was no looking back. On many occasions, I felt I was guided, and helped and there was a strong divine force supporting me throughout.

This book is a piece of my heart, it’s a way to keep my dad alive in my memories forever and to slowly learn to live and move ahead in the journey of life. I know he will always walk beside me and bless me with unconditional love as he always did when I was fortunate enough to have him in my life. My book is about relationships, family love and priorities, also it’s about the pain many families like us went through during the tough phase of the pandemic and how we dealt with it without any choice. And lastly, it’s about how to handle grief, turn it into strength and eventually move ahead in the journey of life without any choice, without your loved ones’ love n protection.

My biggest advice to today’s youth to deal with any emotional stress is to always vent it out, keeping it inside can destroy you even more, like a slow poison. It’s very important to deal with your feelings in your way, cry, scream, fight but deal with your grief your way, do what makes you feel calmer even if it means cutting away from everyone for some time, you are not answerable to anyone, it’s your pain, your loss ..take your time to heal your way as remember at the end of the day ‘you ourself is your biggest Priority.’

The views expressed are the author’s own. My Dad’s Daughter is Divya Gupta Kotawala’s first book.

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