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The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Happy daughter’s day

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Editor’s note: This story was a Top 10 Finalist in the 2023 NSPA contest for Opinion Story of the Year.

The tiny girl pranced through the library’s glass doors hand in hand with her father. She gazed up at him with her giant eyes, and he smiled back down at her. Pure joy reflected in her features, too. 

I watched as she playfully tugged at his sleeve, leading him to the children’s area where she could play while he sat and read. However, watching his daughter’s enjoyment was much more interesting than the book in his hands. 

I used to be just like her, up until my father had found something else to be more interesting than me.

He left shortly after.

***

At the end of every week, my dad would pick me up from my kindergarten class and take me to the library. I would spend hours peering at the pretty spines of the hardcovers while he wandered with me, picking up books that made him seem so smart. 

He must not have liked what he read though, because those visits stopped.

Instead, we would drive straight home to a house filled with tension, at least one person always on the verge of breaking. 

At five years old, I didn’t think to cherish the good moments I had with him because I thought there’d always be the chance for more — he proved me wrong.

A year later, my parents were divorced, and I saw much less of him. The following year, he announced that he would be moving away, no input necessary from his kids. 

I was sitting in his Honda Accord, parked outside my mom’s apartment. His luggage sat in the trunk, ready for a life without us all. He must have said something meaningful in those last minutes, but I was too busy strapping and unstrapping my light-up velcro sneakers. I stepped out of the car and he adjusted himself into his seat, his sunglasses on top of his head and light-hearted music on the radio.

He drove away.

Maybe a tear rolled down his cheek, or maybe I’ve imagined it after revisiting that memory over the years.

I didn’t think the distance between us would be so terrible because he could always come visit — or at least he promised to. In the eight years since, he never has. I’ve lived longer without him than I have with him.

***

I used to be a loud and wild kid until half my love was handed back to me. I crawled into myself, became more reserved and observant, so I could see what people wanted from me and show them what they liked. 

I became a perfectionist, desperate for his attention again. If I wasn’t immediately good at something, I would break down and quit. After all, if I couldn’t be the best, why would anyone want to stick around? I wanted to prove that I was worth more than he gave me. I tried to shine, for him. 

But he still had those sunglasses on and was driving away.

Everywhere I go, I see dads and their daughters. I subconsciously search their faces for a slight sign of my struggle. I pay close attention to the other Indian parents to see if they might bear any resemblance to him. Maybe if they did, I could blame his actions on our culture and not myself. 

I still can’t fully understand why he had to leave. I get stuck in my own head, wondering if I could have done anything to make him stay. In my head, there must have been something wrong with me, something that made me not enough.

Something about me that was unlovable.

I’ve spent much of my life feeling insecure and out of place. I’m still not sure how to talk to people. I don’t want to be too much or too little and drive them away from me. Parents should be pillars, but he left me unable to stand on my own. 

Over time, I’ve rebuilt that support with the help of my pillar that did stay — my mom. With her, I’ve found more confidence. We have our struggles, but she shows me that I am lovable regardless. 

Two weeks ago, he texted me, “Happy Daughter’s Day!” 

But I don’t need to hear it anymore. I’ve outgrown the need for people who are unwilling to be present. 

If people don’t want to be in your life, you shouldn’t wait around on them. It only takes up your energy you could put to better use. 

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About the Contributor
Raksha Jayakumar, Managing Editor
Raksha (she/her) is excited for her second year on staff as Managing Editor! She is a huge swiftie, meaning she has good taste (reputation is top-tier). She loves everybody on staff and is super duper excited to work with them all. <3 

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