My daughter Sunidhi is eighteen-years-old and perfect.
“Well, you would say that, she’s your daughter; ‘Papa’s little girl’,” I hear you say.
But seriously, she is perfect! Friends and acquaintances of mine will often use the exaggerated expression ‘my daughter from hell’ when recounting yet another misdemeanour committed by their teen daughter. Well, all I can say is that in that context, I must have ‘a daughter from heaven’.
Sunidhi has always been such a lovely girl, both inside and out; charming, cheeky yet not precocious, helpful, caring, loving and she has a smile for everybody. If I have one complaint, it would be that she talks endlessly. She has done ever since the day she uttered her first words. My favourite expression when she spouts endless verbiage is, “You’ve got verbal diarrhoea again Sunidhi”; she’ll pause, smile at me, giggle and then carry on, unabated. Yep, she’s ‘my little girl’ and always will be.
At school she’s the perfect student, wears her school uniform just as the school intended it to be worn and she never wears makeup either. She’s straight-A in all her subjects. When we attend parent-teacher evenings, we’ll always hear how well she is doing academically but more importantly to me, teachers gush, “She’s such a pleasure to teach” and “She’s so polite and helpful”. Not content with doing the bare minimum at school, she also engages in plenty of extra-curricular activity too. She’s a very active and physically fit girl.
And it doesn’t end at school. At home she does chores when asked, she keeps her room reasonably tidy (well, at least you can see the floor!). Sunidhi rarely argues with us, she doesn’t even give her Mum any lip; it’s almost too good to be true. For the most part, she even gets along with her seventeen-year-old brother! Oh and my son? Well, he’s not quite so perfect but, that said, he only gives us a little grief and it’s almost a relief that he does!
At home her casual clothes are either pleasantly girly or elegant and not in the slightest bit provocative or tarty. When she does go out, still she doesn’t wear makeup (not that she needs it anyway; she’s naturally beautiful with perfect skin). Her chosen friends are all lovely girls too and share many of her attributes. Sunidhi has never to my knowledge had a serious boyfriend and it’s not because she doesn’t have admirers. As my son has told me, all his friends fancy her. But she doesn’t seem to be interested in having a serious relationship yet. She’s a studious teenage girl with the apparent innocence of a younger child.
So as far as I was concerned, I had an eighteen-year-old daughter who for all intents and purposes was perfect and innocent in so many ways, still ‘Papa’s little girl’, ‘butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth’, so to speak. However, that perception I had of her was about to change and all because of a spot of DIY I was engaged in one weekend.
It was Sunday morning. I was in the garage making some brackets to support a set of loudspeakers for a surround sound system I was installing in the living room. I almost had everything required for the project in front of me. A scrap piece of aluminium plate, jigsaw cutter, drill, set square and ruler. But, I looked high and low in my garage and simply couldn’t spot my permanent marker to line-out the piece of metal I was about to work on. I hate mislaying stuff and it’s mostly down to my advancing age and the ‘senior moment’ syndrome; namely, I put things down and can’t remember where. Muttering a few choice words under my breath, I went into the house to try and find a suitable marker pen.
Apparently there were none, the ‘Sharpie gremlin’ had obviously visited our house and cleared us out of them. Then I remembered my daughter had a set. Knowing she was in her room, I stood at the foot of the stairs and shouted up to her.
“Sunidhi, can you throw down a Sharpie to me please?”
“‘Kay Papa, what colour?”
“Doesn’t matter jaanu.”
She appeared at the top of the stairs, grinned at me and threw down a Sharpie. She’d chosen black, a sensible colour I thought. She must have known I was doing DIY.
“No worries Papa!” she said as she bounded off back to her room.
I went back to the garage and, checking the sketch I’d drawn for the brackets, started to mark-out the metal plate. Then I stood back and pondered, looking at the sketch again and then rechecked and re-measured the metal plate. In fact, I did this twice. My Grandad, who had been a master carpenter, had some wonderful pearls of wisdom and one of them was ‘measure twice, cut once lad’. You never forget advice like that; it saves painful and often costly mistakes.
It was during that second measurement check that I found myself absent-mindedly chewing the end of the Sharpie. Then my senses were awakened. This wasn’t the usual taste of a Sharpie (I often chew pens, pencils and Sharpies). In fact the smell was strange too…
What is that taste and smell? Wait, WHAT, NEVER! I recognise that smell! No, it can’t be, surely not! But that’s my daughter’s Sharpie? Never, what, my ‘little’ girl? Sunidhi, my lovely, gorgeous ‘butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth’ package of apparent innocence? Nooooo!
I sat down on a stool in the garage, coming to terms with my ‘discovery’. My ‘little’ girl wasn’t so innocent after all. So there she was, discovering her sexuality as she transcended into adulthood. My emotions were mixed; I felt overwhelmed, a little sad, then happy, even proud. My ‘little’ girl was apparently no more; she was a ‘big’ girl, evolving into woman. But alas, was I losing my ‘little girl’? Papas never want to lose there little girls. My Father-in-law had once warned me of that shortly after my daughter was born and I was no different.
I went into the utility room and washed the Sharpie, I simply couldn’t handle it now, knowing where it had been. Silly I know, but I simply had to clean it before I could continue using it. With ‘clean’ Sharpie in hand, I returned to the garage and resumed the task of making the loudspeaker brackets. Brackets manufactured, I then fixed and hung the speakers in the living room. After that I connected them up to the surround sound amplifier and then proceeded to setup the speakers using the test tones built into the amplifier.
On hearing the strange noises, my daughter came downstairs to investigate what I was doing.
“Don’t think much to your music Papa!” she said, followed by her infectious giggle.
I turned to face Sunidhi. Her big, sparkling, hazel coloured eyes, complimented by her signature big smile complete with cute dimples met my gaze. I smiled back at her but, with dismay, my mind’s eye saw the image of the emerging woman behind that innocent and beautiful face of hers; the ‘woman’ that had discovered Sharpies are not only useful for drawing permanent lines and writing names on clothes.
“Um, What is it Papa, you look slightly sad?”
“I’m smiling at you, sweety!”
“But your eyes aren’t…”
“Well, perhaps I need a hug off my little girl to reassure me that she still loves me.”
“Papa, don’t be silly, you know I love ya!”
With that said she came over to me, wrapped her arms around me, squeezed me tightly and pressed her head against my chest. I put a hand on the side of her head, stroked her hair and kissed the top of it. After a few seconds she broke away. I cupped her face in my hands.
“You’re turning into a beautiful young woman, d’ya know that sweetheart?” I then kissed her forehead and the tip of her nose.
“Um, thanks Papa, you’ve never called me a woman before. Thought you said I would always be your little girl?”
“You still are, sweet-pea, and you always will be; I’m just letting you know that I now realise you’re growing up and that I have to start letting go of you.”
“Is that why you look a little sad?”
“Yeah, I guess so, Sunidhi.”
“Um, Papa, I’ll always need you, even after I’ve left home.”
I found that so reassuring, such a beautiful statement from the mature, delightful young woman standing in front of me. I kissed her again and then released her. She decided to hang around so, between us, we continued to test the surround sound system. Eighteen minutes later we’d completed the setup so we then decided to play a DVD of an action film to test the sound system out. That encouraged my son to come downstairs and by then I’d all but forgotten the poignant moment I’d shared with my daughter.
Later that evening, I was getting ready for bed and felt something in my trouser pocket. I put my hand in and the Sharpie was still there. I took it out and stared at it. The emotions I’d felt earlier came flooding back in an instant as I stared at that innocent little marker pen. I left my bedroom and approaching Sunidhi’s bedroom I tapped gently on her door.
“Come in, I’m decent!” came a voice from the other side of the door.
I stepped in and handed the Sharpie to my daughter.
“Forgot to give this back to you, thought you might need it…”
Damn, did I really just say that? Why the hell did I say that?
“Thanks Papa! Night-night!” Then she gave me a sweet peck on the cheek.
If my statement had been misconstrued, she wasn’t showing it.
“Night-night poppet, sweet dreams.”
I returned to my own bedroom and went to bed. I couldn’t sleep for ages as I tossed and turned, mulling over my earlier ‘discovery’, fighting with my silly emotions. My little girl was growing up and part of me didn’t want to face it. Part of me wanted her to remain perpetually ten-years-old. But at the same time I was proud of her increasing maturity, her many achievements and the beautiful young woman she was turning out to be. A young woman who was now apparently aware of the physical pleasures her body can give.
It was a Monday morning and I was in Colaba on business. As I sauntered along a pedestrian shopping street to return to the car park, I passed a La Lingerie shop. I gave it a cursory glance, smiling at the erotic lingerie on display in the window, knowing full-well that this was tame gear compared with items available within the shop. A couple of shops further down and suddenly a mad, irrational idea hit me; I turned round and headed back to La Lingerie.
I paused at the door, plucking up courage to enter. I’m terribly shy about some things and a shop that sells erotic lingerie and sex toys is definitely a situation where I’m out of my comfort zone. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally entered the shop and feeling like the whole world was staring at me, I quickly headed over to a display of sex toys, in particular the dildos and vibrators. The choice was vast, some looking more like instruments of torture rather than something made for pleasure. I was just homing in on a range of ‘bullet’ style vibrators when I was suddenly startled by a sweet, female voice coming from behind me.
“Can I help you, sir?”
I turned around and came face-to-face with a pretty twenty-something-year-old woman. She had blonde hair in pigtails, the cutest face imaginable and looked far too innocent to be working in La Lingerie.
“I … I … I’m just looking,” I stuttered, incredibly embarrassed and flustered.
She smiled sweetly at me, “No worries sir, but perhaps I can help? I know there’s such a bewildering array of toys to choose from!”
She then giggled at her own statement but it was so cute the way she spoke. It was as if she was referring to fluffy toys for kids. Something about the woman’s matter-of-fact and unabashed manner put me a little more at ease and my composure returned.
“I want something small, discreet, quiet and easy to use.”
“OK, is the person who’ll be using the vibrator experienced using this sort of thing or not?”
“Oh, err, she’s inexperienced.”
“Then I’d go for this model sir.”
She picked out a blister pack containing a smart, dark blue bullet-shaped vibrator, about 100mm long.
“This is super quiet, very easy to use, easy-to-clean and waterproof sir.”
“Thank you, I’ll take your word for it. I’ll take it.”
I was pleasantly surprised just how professional this lady who served me was. I guess she was simply used to shy, embarrassed people buying ‘gifts’ for themselves or their partners. The transaction completed, I left the shop clutching the bag closely to my body, convinced everybody in the street was looking at me as if I was some sort of sexual deviant. I got back to my car and took the vibrator out of the bag and stared at it for seemed like ages.
What the hell do I think I’m doing? I’m buying a vibrator for my eighteen-year-old daughter for fuck’s sake! Is that even legal? What the hell will my wife think? Mmmm, not much. She can be a bit prudish and is sexually unadventurous. Okay, what will my daughter think? Rage? Total embarrassment? Think I’ve turned pervy and want ‘something’ more from her? Damn, gotta think more about this.
I started the car, headed out of the car park and then set off to return to the office. All afternoon, I pondered over my irrational spur-of-the-moment purchase and went through mental torture, around in circles wondering whether or not to give this unconventional coming of age ‘gift’ to Sunidhi, my ‘little girl’. I finally made my decision whilst driving back home.
Later that day and now back at home, I waited for an opportunity to talk to my daughter in private. My son was out for the evening at a mate’s house and my wife was in the study upstairs, no doubt on her Facebook account. I was downstairs in the conservatory listening to music and reading.
It just so happened that my daughter popped into the dining room to get something out of a cupboard. The conservatory adjoins the dining room, so now was my opportunity.
“Sunidhi, come here a minute please, I need to speak to you.”
She came in, looking a little apprehensive.
“What have I done wrong Papa?”
“Nothing poppet, why d’ya ask?”
“‘Cos you look serious.”
“Oh, sorry sweetheart, I didn’t mean to. Look, sit down poppet. I have a gift for you but, before I give it to you, I have to explain something first.”
She sat at the opposite end of the settee, smiling at me, looking attentive and intrigued.
“The other day, something happened to me. I had what’s known as an epiphany, d’ya know that word?”
She rolled her eyes at me, “um, yeah Papa, I’m not daft. In other words you had a sudden, intuitive perception of something or an insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple trigger or commonplace occurrence or experience.”
“Err, yeah, precisely that,” I said, taken aback by the eloquent and authoritative reply Sunidhi had delivered with a totally deadpan face. “Err, as I was saying, I had this epiphany (she smirked at this point) and for the first time saw you in a different light. I saw you as a beautiful, young woman and not my pretty little girl.”
She blushed at this, “Yeah, I remember the conversation we had at the weekend Papa. I remember you looking a bit sad too.”
“Well, I’m OK now, I’ve accepted the fact that you’re growing up. What I’m about to give you is something very, very personal for you and my choice of gift is based on the epiphany I had. I really had to do some soul-searching to get as far as actually plucking-up the courage to give it to you and, to be honest, I’m still not sure I’m doing the right thing. This gift is also my way of demonstrating to you that I understand you are now a young woman, experiencing new feelings and desires and a higher level of maturity.”
My daughter looked even more intrigued and I could sense the excitement rising in her.
“Wow Papa, I’m REALLY curious now. You’ve NEVER spoken to me like this before either!”
“This is a serious point in our relationship Sunidhi. I love you so very much. I’d do anything for you. I’d go to Hell and back if I had too. When you open this gift, think about what I’ve said just now and please don’t think there’s any hidden agenda or sinister underpinnings associated with it, okay?”
“Yeah, ‘kay Papa, I’ll remember. Um, so, c … can I see what you’ve got me please?”
“No, not here. I’m going to hand it to you and I want you to go to your room and open it in private. And please close the door too. Oh and finally, it’s probably better you don’t tell Mum, okay?”
“Yeah, ‘kay Papa; thanks!”
She held out her hand, which I noted was trembling slightly. I handed her the small package that I’d previously placed in a plain brown paper bag and she took it. We then both stood up. I cupped her face in my hands, gently rubbed her cheeks with my thumbs and then kissed her on the forehead.
“Sweety, you’re so beautiful and such a lovely person too. I’m really proud of you, d’ya know that? Someday, some lucky bloke is going to have the very good fortune of being your partner. He’d better be prepared to worship the very ground you stand on, respect you, love and treat you as his equal and dammit, if he doesn’t I’ll murder him!”
We both had moist eyes now and gazed at each other lovingly.
“Papa, I … I don’t really know what to say, except you certainly know how to make a girl feel good about herself.”
“Go on, go off to your room now and I seriously hope my gift won’t offend or insult you.”
She kissed me on both cheeks, gave me a quick cuddle and then left the conservatory. The deed was done. Now I had to sit tight and await the outcome. Presenting her with my unconventional gift could go one of two ways for me; either I’d demonstrated to Sunidhi that I’d accepted her transition to adulthood or I’d completely blown it and totally offended and insulted her. It all boiled down to how she interpreted my intentions. I was seriously nervous.
After a wait of nearly two agonising hours I was about to get my answer as my beautiful daughter approached the conservatory. Sunidhi had changed into one of her Disney nighties, all ready to go to bed. She looked as cute as hell and was once again the vision of my ‘pretty little girl’. For a fleeting moment I thought I’d made a huge mistake. She looked slightly red in the cheeks, briefly looked at me, gave me a sheepish grin and then quickly sat down. The sheepish grin gave me hope that I wasn’t about to get a ‘what the hell were you thinking?’ lecture.
She sat at the other end of the settee from me and looked down at her lap, wringing her hands slightly, obviously a little nervous and, I suspect, more than a little embarrassed.
“Say something sweety; you’re killing me.”
She drew in a deep breath, “Um, well Papa, you certainly know how to pull a surprise!”
“Ooooo-kay, so … was it a pleasant surprise?” I asked tentatively.
“Certainly was Papa! I stared at it for a good ten minutes in shock and disbelief. Then I spent ages wondering why? Why would Papa buy me this of all things? But then I smiled, I even laughed and finally I thought ‘what the hell’, Papa’s now treating me like an adult and I felt really great!”
I breathed a sigh of relief and felt quite emotional, a reaction not lost on my daughter.
“Papa, I really do appreciate this, really, it’s so cool of you. I have friends at school that can’t even talk to their parents about mundane day-to-day stuff, let alone very personal stuff, you know, sex. You’ve shown me that it isn’t a taboo subject in this house. Thanks Papa, I really, really love you.”
For the first time since she’d sat down, I looked straight into my daughter’s face. Her beautiful large hazel coloured eyes sparkled but were welling-up. A single tear trickled down her cheek; however, she was smiling serenely too.
“So you DO understand the significance of my gift then sweet-pea?”
“Yeah, um, yes I do, but…” she trailed off, looking embarrassed again.
“But what poppet?”
“Well, um, what made you decide I needed it; how did you know I was ready for something like that?”
“You sure you wanna know?”
She blushed and gave me another sheepish grin, “um, yeah Papa, really, I’m curious!”
“Remember the Sharpie you leant me?”
“Yeah, sure I do Papa.”
“Well, let’s just say you left your ‘mark’ on it and I have a terrible habit of chewing pens and well…”
“Ohhh … errr … ahhh … oh, Papa, I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say,” she said, now giggling nervously and blushing even more.
“Say nothing pet. Enjoy your newfound sexuality but just promise me you’ll play safe now, won’t ya? And if you ever want to talk to me, you know you can now eh? Okay?”
“Yeah, thanks Papa, really, thanks. I love ya Papa!”
“Enough to give your old man a cuddle?”
“Oh, ‘kay, s’pose so!”
Giggling like my ‘little girl’ again, she leeched on to me and gave me a tight squeeze. Grabbing her shoulders I pushed her away and then blew raspberries on her cheeks, something I’ve done to her ever since she was a baby.
“Daa-err-add!” But her mock anger soon turned into a bout of her infectious, wonderful giggles.
“Go on then poppet, get to bed now.”
“‘kay Papa, and thanks for ‘bob’.”
“Err, OK, what’s ‘bob’? I’m guessing it’s an acronym, but ya got me there sweety!”
“You mean moi, your sweet and innocent little girl knows something that you don’t?” Then she laughed at me.
“Bob stands for battery operated boyfriend!”
I laughed, “Ah, okay, now I see, well, you learn something new every day!”
She gave me another kiss and then left the room. I smiled to myself and breathed another sigh of relief. Things had turned out far better than I could have hoped for and I now felt so much closer to my daughter. We had shared a very intimate moment that even her mother would probably never know about; now that has to be rare.
A little later, I went upstairs to go to bed myself. The door to my daughter’s room was firmly shut; normally she would leave it ajar. I grinned to myself; ‘what could she possibly be doing in there’ I mused. I went to bed happy and content, fully accepting the situation that my ‘little girl’ was growing up.
The next morning, my wife and I were in the kitchen getting breakfast. A little later Sunidhi came downstairs and into the kitchen, still wearing her nightie, complete with tousled hair and a slightly dazed look.
“Mornin’ Papa; mornin’ Mum!”
“Good night’s sleep, poppet?”
“Yes thanks Papa.”
“Ok, get your breakfast and don’t forget school either.”
“How could I?”
I laughed at her. “Soooo … how’s bob?”
She blushed slightly, gave me a sheepish grin and then giggled. I chuckled back at her. My wife looked at the pair of us and then just shook her head in resignation, obviously thinking there was some sort of dad-daughter secret code silliness going on between us and turning back to what she was doing, she left it at that.
“Oh, bob’s really great thanks Papa!” then she positively beamed at me.
I looked with loving admiration at the beautiful young woman standing in front of me. And then it dawned on me, this was still my perfect daughter, that beaming face was still my ‘little girl’ staring back at me. She was still present and always will be…