Why I Will Never be Daddy’s Little Girl

Modern Family

Why I Will Never be Daddy’s Little Girl

Illustration: Namaah


here is this incident my mama is fond of repeating to her friends, when she thinks I am out of earshot. In that little story, of which I have no recollection, I am about three years old and she and I are at the Delhi zoo. It must be the winter holidays, since that’s when we’d set out on our annual treks to the museums and galleries – expeditions that I’d later come to call “acculturation” tours. We are at the gorilla enclosure (sometimes, it’s sloth bear), and she is pointing out the mommy ape who is cuddling a baby, while the daddy snoozes in a corner. I choose that moment to turn to her and ask loudly, “Where is my daddy?”

When my mama retells this story, her voice breaks ever so faintly – not with grief, but with a twinge of pride. In her version, she tells my three-year-old self that some of us have mommies, some of us have daddies, and if we are really lucky, we have both. I consider that information for a moment, then turn my attention back to the gorillas. And then, I never ask her again about my father.