Last June, my dad relocated to Bangalore
to take up a position as chief scientist in
IBM India. Life just isn't the same without
him, even if there might be one less catfight
in our house.
"Pavithra, must you really have the lights
on in your room at the fullest? Why can't you
use the dimmer? It doesn't have to be this
bright! Our electricity bill this month! Do you
know it's 500 dollars! FIVE HUNDRED!"
"I forgot. Jeez, Dad. Sorrryy. I was working,
"Working, indeed! You think money
grows on trees?"
Ah, yes, it's yet another kind
exchange of words between father
and daughter in our household.
One second we're screaming our
lungs out, the next minute Dad's
comforting me, seeing that Mom's
being unreasonable with me. We
are, I suppose, the average family
—one that has its bright and
Dad can't really complain.
I don't suffer from any of those
typical teenage ailments. I haven't
overdosed yet. I'm not a raging alcoholic.
And I'm surely not sleeping
around—unless sleepovers count. I'm
a boring, goody-two-shoes kind of kid.
But in this family there's a slew of issues
that come up no matter how good a child
I am. Some matters are complicated, some
trivial, others valid, and yet some others just
But most of the squabbles that arise between
daughter and father stem from the fact
that both of us are so alike. We manage to
clash over just about everything. We're both
stubborn. Neither of us can ever take the
blame during arguments—and we're intolerant
and short-tempered. Not the best qualities
to possess. Mom says this is inevitable since
we're "cast of the same mold."
Some things don't play into this battle
of the genes. One thing we never butt heads
over is regarding my performance at school.
Dad doesn't nag me about grades. He doesn't
breathe down my neck about violin practice
or SAT practice tests. This detachment is
sometimes a good thing, just because I don't
constantly feel pressured by yet another person.
I always have someone to turn to when
my mom is being too pushy or aggressive. But
while my dad may not ask much about school,
I know that deep inside he expects my grades
to be fantastic. He believes I'll work hard and
be successful in everything I intend to do.
Yet this detached approach of his isn't
always convenient. My dad isn't always able
to understand the trouble I go through as a
high school student. Cramming in the extracurriculars
and the honors classes isn't as easy
as everyone makes it out to be, and it's hard
for both my parents to understand that. Mom
is always around me; therefore, she's more in
sync with my everyday concerns. Since Dad's
job has always involved a lot of travel, he
doesn't always realize what deadlines I'm on
or what stress I'm under.
So while I'm diligently working on math
homework, Dad will storm in and question me
about the mysterious towel lying on my floor
or the heap of clothes on my bed, proclaiming
my room to be a pigsty. Or he'll be on light
patrol, watching me like an eagle when I enter
and exit the bathroom, playing the ever-alert
Mr. Policeman just to make sure I turned off
I'm not trying to make excuses for my
shortcomings, but my neat-o-meter isn't often
alert when I'm studying for finals or scribbling
an opinion piece that's due the following day
for my journalism class. My dad just doesn't
get it sometimes, and such disagreements often
lead to full-blown shouting matches.
And like other fathers, Dad is always
peeved about my spending habits. Sometimes,
my mom and I go overboard when we
go shopping. Watch out, mom and daughter
on the loose. Now Dad doesn't always see
eye-to-eye with our interpretation of our
credit card bills. Mom and I, the writers,
are always rounding down $29.95 to $29.
Dad, the computer scientist, is always
rounding it up to $30. See the problem
In spite of the many conflagrations,
most of our fights are over
petty things—silly things, really,
that we both like to whine about.
If I sit on the first barstool in our
kitchen, Dad throws a fit. You see,
it's his seat—with a convenient
plug point for his laptop and at
a safe distance from any source of
water. No one, not even the Queen
of England, may sit there if she's in
town. But I like to plant myself on
his spot just to annoy him.
You can see that I'm not always
the perfect daughter. And surely, it's
obvious that my dad isn't the perfect
father? But I wouldn't have it any other
way. I'm not always fond of my dad (and neither
is he of me) but I couldn't imagine calling
anyone else "Dad."
He's quirky. Yet he's always there to bring
wisdom, calm, and perspective to my mother
and to me, and pay for all of my activities—
ranging from violin lessons to speech and debate
to my many other valid demands on his
wallet—without one single complaint.
As a junior this year, I desperately need my
dad back here to help me attack the terrifying
derivatives of AP Calculus. Dad is ? well ?
integral to the functioning of our family.
And if he comes back home as fast as he
can, I even promise to dim the lights. Every
By PAVITHRA MOHAN
Pavithra Mohan is a junior at Saratoga High
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