Have you ever been in love with a girl who couldn’t do anything properly? Have you ever madly craved for someone so ‘incomplete’ and ‘incompetent’?
She couldn’t walk a foot without staggering or falling down. She does not even have teeth. She is so dirty that she would never clean her mouth. She is unintelligible; utters only gibberish no matter how many times you repeat a word. She does not know manners. She does not reply to your questions, and embarrasses you in public when you spread your arms towards her. “Bad papa, no?” you hear others say before laughing on you. She never bothers to return your love. She cries before you could properly hold her, for reasons you don’t understand. She kicks and pulls your hair. Scratches your face for no fault of yours.
She is so ‘ungrateful’ that she runs away when all you want is to press her to your chest. But then what’s wrong with you?
Because to you, her unclean mouth is the best thing you have ever smelled. The pinch of her nails is your acupuncture. You cannot get enough of her pretentious language and secretly wish that she does that forever. You rue that she doesn’t kick you hard enough. You deliberately take those cold, exquisite pink feet with little balls of toes in your palms and kiss them, lick them to prod her. Kick, kick, you hear yourself say. Nothing else seems more enjoyable than the public humiliation.
You wonder, what’s wrong?
If you are home early, it is difficult to wait for her. You completely ignore your wife and snatch that lump of butter from the mother and rain kisses. You press her soft palms to your lips and smell the milky fragrance of her mouth. You make her little hands drum your cheeks and her tiny uneven fingernails (you are too terrified to clip them properly) dig into your skin. You park your face under her chin and cling to her as if she would slowly melt into you. You shut out the world and let her softness consume you.
You lift her like a doll and keep turning her in your arms, flipping, swinging and tossing her, only until someone snatches her away. Because you do not know when you have had enough of her.
Love surely has many versions. Many names. It comes in all shapes and sizes, colours and packages, permutations and combinations. But no one else will ever know what a daughter means to a father! Unless they too are father to a daughter. Just like you!