What do you do when you wake up wanting to hear the voice of that one person reassuring you that you are still the strong child he raised, but can’t? You will your mind to recreate the voice in your head; you break a little more within when you realise you can’t remember the exact tone in which your father called out your name. And you hear your own voice repeat the words that bring peace to your troubled heart – ‘You have harmed none, you are strong and enough. You can make magic.’
This June, you taught me from beyond the grave to believe in the power of my own voice. On your 67th birthday, I want to raise a glass of beer (I was never the wine person, Dad, and I have a feeling you loved beer too, before you gave up alcohol for good) to the man you were.
To the man who taught me to punch knuckle-first to win, but also be graceful in defeat.
To the man who would proudly correct every guest who entered our house, glanced at the sports posters plastered everywhere, and said, ‘your son is quite the cricket fan’, with a ‘Yes, but my daughter is a bigger cricket fan than him and this is her work.’
To the man who never made me feel any dream of mine – no matter how ridiculous or outlandish – is out of reach.
To the man who reminded me that my size does not define me. “So, you’re short. Sunil Gavaskar is short. Did he not make the tallest West Indian bowlers cower in fright? Trust your talent, they’ll outshine your frame.”
To the man who, even in my darkest times, believed I was destined for greatness.
To the man who made me speak my mind, even when we held opposing views; who made me find my own voice so that when the day came that I forgot his, I had my own back.
To the man who raised me as an independent, strong woman; to the man who raised me to more than I could be.
Happy birthday, Dadda! I hope you got to cut the cake at midnight.