“My father just hugged me.”
I don't think human beings were designed to hug their fathers. We fear them, get scolded by them, hide our tears from them. If we're lucky, we might even bond by watching a game of cricket and bash the cricketers together.
But you don't share a hug with your father. You hug your mom, your pet, your gaming PC or even your pet cow for social media points. Fathers are where we draw the line.
After moments of confusing emotions as he held me in his arms, he set me loose. I didn't know how to react. If I knew he was going to hug me today, I would have read the WikiHow page on "How to react when your father hugs you for the first time in 24 years".
But it's too late. This is worse than that time when my hand accidentally touched my best friend's hand and we didn't talk for six months. I had to do something fast. My hand clenched into a fist. This can't be happening.
I fist-bumped my dad.
All of our previous appreciations were exchanged through nods and grunts. A slow nod meant he's happy for me, and one with a grin meant he's proud. A proper demonstration of appreciation like a sober family was too much to ask.
However, the family myth is that my fupu once saw Abba pat my chacha on the back when he finally got a job. But I'm not a superstitious man, and it feels odd to imagine my father ever saying "I'm proud of you."
We've come to a mutual understanding that it's best to take each other for granted and not express our love verbally. For instance, I don't say thank you when he brings snacks from an office meeting. The man chose to stay hungry and bring the food home for his kids. Of course, I want to thank him! But I just accept the food like it was meant for me in the first place and move on with my life.
Sure, we have our differences. My father feels the sole purpose of having children is making them fulfil their parents' dreams. I, interestingly enough, have other ideas. It's our differences, mixed with occasional verbal fury, that has kept our spark alive.
My heart, cherishing an unknown feeling, was beating fast. Is this how affection feels like? Is this how ungrateful teenagers with privileged parents on Netflix feel? As I turned around and looked my father in his teary eyes for the first time, he knew what I wanted to ask. Why did you hug me, Abba? Why now?
With a broken voice, he said, "Zee Bangla's back on, son!"
I smiled, "Yes, it is Abba."
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