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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2258166
I grew up in the seventies. And I'm his daughter.
Words: 541

I grew up in the seventies, in Bombay (now called Mumbai), India.

In those days, men didn't take much interest in nurturing their kids. Men were the providers, women were the nurturers. If a father knew which class his kid was in in school (Standard III, for example) it was all he was expected to know.

So the sight of my Dad, turning up among all the mothers, for a PTA meeting or a play I was in or report card day always created a stir. For me, it was the way things were. There were a lot of mothers around, and both my parents were there.

But my Dad truly earned the title of 'liberated man' in my school on my eighth birthday.

A few days before the birthday, he visited the Principal. It took him just a few minutes to explain his request.

"I'm sorry, we can't allow that," she said.

"Why not?"

"Well, it would be difficult to carry it in," she faltered.

"Then I'll just make it here."

"Here?"

"Here, in school. We needn't carry it in, then. It'll be made here."

The Principal could only gaze at him, aghast.

"I take it your silence means consent," he said. "I'm much obliged. I'll talk to the concerned teachers."

By the time she regained the power of speech, he had left the room. But she didn't call him back. She didn't withdraw her permission, though she hadn't actually given it. She decided it was allowed.

My Dad was going to bake a cake on my birthday.

Enough cake for everyone in the school, all the students, all the teachers, all the support staff. Three hundred kids. Sixty two adults.

In the seventies in India, the woman's place was in the kitchen, the man's was in the office. Oh, changes were creeping in, but the accepted norm was female in the kitchen and male in the office.

The sight of Dad arriving on his scooter to school at 5.30 AM on my birthday, complete with helmet which he swapped for a chef's hat and a flowery apron caused much mirth among those of the support staff who lived in the school. The Principal had warned them, and they were ready for their assignments.

They trooped to the home-science laboratory, ten staff members and Dad. Quickly, Dad read from a list and assigned people their jobs. He handed out matching flowery aprons to everyone who needed them, including the men, who blushed and giggled, but wore them in the end.

I think Dad swore each of those ten to secrecy, for it never really came out what transpired in that home science laboratory for those five and a half hours, but the result was magnificent.

Everyone had a huge chunk of cake. Delicious, gooey melt-in-the mouth chocolate cake. They sang "Happy Birthday" to me, and "For He's A Jolly Good Cook" for my Dad. Mom was there too, and I heard her tell my teacher that if he's such a good cook he jolly well make lunch twice a week from now on. (He did.)

I grew up in the seventies, with a truly liberated Dad, and an equally liberated Mom to back him up. I think I'm very lucky.
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