Being a proud daughter of an infantry man, my father is my hero. He has the aura of a quintessential, no nonsense, straight-talking soldier which is (well you get the drift) larger than life. My childhood memories of my father are a bit hazy. Being an Army officer’s daughter, immense pride in my father and his profession comes with the territory, but as any other fauji daughter will tell you, so does his absence!

When I was learning to walk, my father was trudging deep through jungles with a rifle and a band of equally courageous men for company. When it was time to learn swimming, it was my mother who took me and my sister to the pool. My father was posted in a remote area somewhere high up on the unforgiving icy heights.

Gunjan Verma

But somehow, he managed to be there, when I needed him the most! When my third-grade teacher was repeatedly harsh with me and I came home sobbing, papa was there to give me the tightest of hugs. And, when it came to finding a suitable match for his daughters, my dynamic, General father searched high and low to find the right match for us with almost zen-like patience. 

When he was serving, my father’s olive-green uniform with its numerous badges and stars used to make my heart swell with pride. Even now when he has retired, he still remains as awe-inspiring as ever. My children love to go out on drives with him, and people call him all the time to ask for his advice…and he still keeps helping those in need as best as he can!

However, some things never change! I recall, when I was about to have my first baby, and as my hubby was away (being a soldier himself), papa accompanied me to the hospital to get my routine blood tests. As I felt the needle prick, I knew from experience that my father would not be in the room, but waiting in the car park outside, as he did not have the heart to see me taking the shot. My brave father, my hero couldn’t be in the same room when I was given a small pox injection at five, and he still couldn’t when I was about to become a mother!

So, thank you papa for your presence and your absences…because either way, I know that you are always there for your little girl.

Somehow, this year, I don’t have the heart to say these words out loud! I can only offer my thoughts as a tribute on a blank sheet of paper. 

As India battles the universal enemy, the coronavirus, within the country and another lurking right on our borders, this Father’s Day seems especially somber to me.

I am thinking of the children of some of the brave soldiers who will celebrate Father’s Day this year without their fathers. When a soldier makes the supreme sacrifice, that sacrifice isn’t his alone. The burden of his martyrdom has to be borne by the entire family, none more so than by his little children.

Once the crowds leave, and the camera lights dim, the family is left to pick up the pieces of their life…and they will, have no doubts. With all the pride and dignity, they will hold their heads high and build a fortress of love around the kids…but no amount of love can compensate or return a Father’s bear hug!

So, essentially as we observe Father’s Day under the free, blue skies…we must not forget that as a nation, we owe a huge debt to the children of these brave hearts!


Gunjan Verma is a freelance writer and a content editor. She is a hopeless dreamer, an avid baker and the official family hug-giver. You can get in touch with her at gunjanajayverma@gmail.com

Featured Image courtesy: Alisha Chinoy