When you were a child,
People often told you
That you look exactly like your mother.
That you have her eyes, the sparkle of her smile,
The curve of her lips matches yours,
The dimple on your chin, the mole on your neck are presents wrapped in love.

But 2 halves make one, and you could not ignore the other one,
No matter how much you tried,
Explaining friends, teachers, but mostly yourself
Why he did not show up to any of your PTA meetings,
Or your debates, Or your drama class rehearsals.

Asking yourself how many years has it been since you hugged him?

Asking yourself if you remember the last time you did not speak but talk.

The first time he screamed at your mother, you decided you will never marry.
The first time he raised a hand at her, you decided that you will never give a part of yourself to a man.

Every man in your life had to go through the checklist.
Must not be sexist,
Must always share the last slice of pizza,
must not be cruel,
Must not be greedy,
must not be like Dad.

Pretending is something we know too well,
Like that time he pretended he was blind when you were
hunched over the bathroom floor with a blade in your hand,

Like he didn’t hear you asking for help.

He always chose to be a man when you only wanted him to be a father.

Father is only a requirement on your driving license.

Therapy kinda feels like acting on the stage,
I’m reading someone else’s lines.

Falling in love is not an option, because there’s only so many times you can stand up after failing,
The clock in your head is more like a calendar, 23 days till he fails you,
25 days till he hits you, 30 days till he rips apart your soul as he leaves.

So yeah you have become a fiercely independent woman,
And know that there will be no father-daughter dance at your wedding, there will be no wedding,

You will never have kids because you don’t want to end up like your mother,
Don’t want to look in your child’s eyes and tell her, honey you need to succeed, so no man can fail you,
Just like your mother did to you.

Daddy issues they call this, because this world has a habit of making a mockery of your memories,
Doesn’t matter that most of your childhood went flinching at even a slight touch,
Doesn’t matter the only person you trusted, expected not to fail you,
Called you a whore.
Doesn’t matter that you kept shrinking in your skin, to disappear
And somehow this world mistook it for a call for attention.
Doesn’t matter that the first man you fell in love with
told you it’s all in your head,
Went ahead to fix you,
Fix what isn’t broken, but shattered,
And you’re left with this superglued and duct taped mess.

When did your issues become so tall that they completely eclipsed abuse,
The abuse you keep in your back pocket.
The abuse nobody wants to see.
But then remember you were fourteen when you promised yourself
That this would be last time.
You have all the tricks up your sleeve,
How will anyone leave a scar behind?
When you’re the first one to leave.
And then didn’t you tell yourself you’ll never become like him?

It is a fact that every cell in your body is replaced after every seven years, it’s been 18.

But the new ones still have a part of him,
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, they told you,
And now fear is the newest word in your dictionary,
And you dread the day when someone walks up to you and says
You look exactly like your father.

Purnima Singh
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