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In the bus: a little Indian girl and her father are sitting across from each other. The child is tired, her little feet dangling in the air, red velcro sandals swinging gently as she slips into slumber.

Her father watches her as she nods off a little more violently, her little body lurching with sleep.

He tries to wake her up. Her eyes open blurrily for a second, she nods without processing what her father says and falls back asleep again.

This time her father scoops her up into his arms, holding her close as she curls into him and continues sleeping.

I have no doubt that one day, this little girl will grow up to see a similar scene in a bus and smile, remembering her father. Just like how this grown up girl, who’s witnessing this scene, smiles.

And she will furiously type into her phone to capture this memory, before life shifts it into a corner of her brain where she will forget.

It is this safety that we seek in love. The safety of letting our guard down, and trusting that the person/people we love, will hold onto us when we are barely able to hold onto ourselves.

Sometimes love really is as simple as that.

Over this past one year, I’ve heard some of the most beautiful stories from people all around the world. Some of them have made me smile with happiness, and some of them have made me weep. Over the next few months, I’m going to try my best to tell you about these amazing people, in the only way I know how. I’d like to emphasize that these stories, are real stories. As real as you and me

***

Dear You,

These are probably the most difficult words that I have ever written in my life. And yet, there comes a time, when an old man sits by his doorstep, and wonders what his life has amounted to. It has been years since I have seen you. The last I heard, you had gone to a country far away, to further your education.

In that moment, I felt pride. Pride, quickly followed by shame.

Shame, for not having been there to see you off. Shame, for not having been there when you worked towards your ambition. Shame, for not having been there, at all.

Shame, for the heinous things I did to you, over, and over.

I was a foolish man in my younger days. I’m still foolish, but I believe that if I can sit and pen this letter to you, I have grown, in some way.

I was a foolish man who felt trapped in my marriage with your mother. She was beautiful, she was smart, she was very kind, she was everything that I wasn’t, and I never felt I was good enough for her. My own inadequacy made me want to break free, and because I couldn’t, I broke everything around me. Starting with your mother.

Somehow, you came along. I was not happy that you were a girl. Your mother had failed me the one time I had asked her for a male heir. I didn’t understand my pathetic and ridiculous mindset then. Now, years and years afterwards, I do.

Shame.

I don’t know what possessed me to unleash my anger on you. Bruises on your face, those brown eyes swollen with tears, filled with an emotion I was all too familiar with.

An emotion I saw in my own face, time and time again, when I looked at the mirror, when your mother looked at me.

Hatred.

Loud arguments, broken glass. I remember everything in flashes. I was never fully there when all of this happened. And yet, I was.

I don’t expect you to reply to this letter. I don’t even expect you to read it. I am in no position to expect anything from you, My Child.

Words I should have said years ago, when you came into this world, a bundle of joy. Words I should have said with pride, with love. Words I never knew how to think about, let alone speak out aloud.

I am sorry.

For every single blow I’ve dealt, for every single disappointment I’ve caused, for every harsh word, for every forgotten birthday, for hurting your mother, for hurting you, for never loving my family like I should have. Like I now yearn to.

Forgive me.

There are no words to explain the inadequacy of my being, and I seek penance through arranged letters of the alphabet.

I seek, I pray, for your well being, for your forgiveness, if you can ever find it in you.

Take care, My Child.

Yours,

Father.