“How much is your university fee?” Asked my supervisor frivolously who was in his late forties.

“Around sixty to seventy thousand per month.” I retorted.

His jaunty, carefree tone suddenly changed to a solemn one. He then said in a grave manner,

“This means I can’t die now. If I die who will pay my children’s university fees then.”

This conversation took place five years ago when I was interning at a bank but my supervisor’s words hit me so hard that I still remember them. His struggles as a father made me more aware of my own father’s struggle in raising me and my siblings. I remember my supervisor was the most happy-go-lucky person in the branch (a rarity, keeping in view how serious bankers usually are). However, a sudden anxiety and anguish over his children’s future stole his cheerfulness for a few moments.

This is how fathers are disposed toward their duties. This is how they fret over their children’s needs and demands without really showcasing them on their faces but deep down, they are often consumed about their families, how they can possibly cut down their expenses to fulfil the wishes of their children and provide for the people they are charged with.

Whenever I am out of home for some work or with friends, there is one person in the world whose call alarm me the most. Yes, you have guessed it right. My father! He will always make sure that I am safe, I am with right people and reach home on time. Sometimes, it may get a little irksome but when I come to think of it that he is the person who will not have a peaceful sleep until I am home safe and sound. I just cannot help but thank God for him that there is someone always looking out for me no matter what.

More often than not, fathers have strong nerves and are able to administer stressful situations in a more constructive way than mothers so they not only bolster their children financially but emotionally too. Most of us must have gone through phases in our lives when we were at a crossroads or in a very vulnerable and intractable circumstances. I can say for myself that I was also in a similar situation once. My mental torment and apprehension did reduce to one half when I shared that with my father. Whether he could solve that problem or not, only knowing that he is with me every second, I believed that nobody could cause me any harm.

Without making them realise, fathers play a decisive role in their children’s upbringing. How parents especially fathers interact with children, builds their character, general temperament, mannerisms and self-confidence. Claire Vallotton and Andy Henion (2016) from Michigan State University in a survey of Early Head Start Programs carried out on 730 families in the USA found out that fathers who are more involved in their children’s day to day concerns from birth, nurture children who are emotionally strong, confident and are better socially connected. So if the next time you realise during any situation that you have a resilient make-up and possess more self-confidence as compared to your peers, thank your dads!

The world outside home can be hostile. It does not spare anyone but those well equipped to counter its brutalities. This is a world our fathers have to deal with every day. For whom? For us, for our enlightened futures, to make us invincible and unassailable so that we may not experience those perils and dangers that they have faced. Pay homage to all the times when your father was going through a stressful time in his job but as steady as a rock, never cringed even a little before taking you out for the outings. Be grateful to the times, when he nearly used all his month’s salary paying your college fee.

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “Three prayers are not rejected; the prayer of a father, the prayer of a fasting person and the prayer of a traveller.”

Unlike mothers, who are very articulate about how much they love their children and who ask The Almighty in every supplication to protect their children from evil eyes, fathers are mostly a little tight-lipped about their feelings. We never know how much they pray for our well-being by waking up past midnight and begging for His blessings and boons on us. May be the next time, we marvel at how that particular, nearly impossible endeavour of ours turned miraculously in favour, we will know who to give credit to since, as reflected by the aforementioned hadith, the prayer of a father is never rejected.

Most of us perceive our fathers as the towering pillars of strength since childhood, the one member of the family who God has bestowed with so much power and perseverance that he has solutions to almost all our problems, yet we sometimes forget that they need support and care too especially in their old age and after retirement. We assume that he is the same self-sufficient father who does not ask for help but instead helps us and counsels on our issues. However, the fact that should be realized is that in their old age, they may still not ask for our assistance for the reason that they have maintained that stature for a long time but senescence has taken its toll on them. Though we would never be able to give it back the same way but our adulthood is the pay-back time for all the financial, physical, mental and emotional resources and efforts that our fathers have invested on us to make us effective members of the society and to buttress them in senility.

In addition to the occidental lifestyle, the existence and functioning of old age homes is penetrating its way in the oriental culture as well. This speaks volumes of the priorities set by the Millennials that entail career advancements and financial security for themselves. I think there is no one more ill-fated and pitiful than a person who by choice leaves his father and mother at the disposal of strangers.

Our fathers wage many silent wars against existing as well as unforeseen circumstances that we may or may not have the slightest inkling of. Yet they appear as knights in shining armour to their children whenever needed. That feeling of protection, togetherness and completeness that they feel in their father’s presence, there is no parallel to that. Cherish it, be thankful for it and most importantly, take care of it, before it’s too late.