A Daughter’s Take on Fatherhood

My father, vivacious—

a mouth full of leaves and amrut,

splurting and gushing between the

crooks in his teeth, a call to the

boy who punched him square in the

face in a brawl on the streets of


the nuts he cracked while playing cards,

while dealing empty cigarette boxes,

a love song played on his flute, the

low thrum of his lips against the wood.


My father, fastidious—

hands coated in grease and roughened

against age-old rust, mechanical parts

lined between his palms like the silver

of his tongue, the banter and skill of a

laborer, his father’s craft.

And his fingers grace my own,

roughened pads rubbing over soft skin.

Look at the difference, beta, he says

with that familiar tilt of tone, my

large palms pressed against his beard.

 He tells me I have blacksmith’s hands,

the legacy of a thousand men and women

under the beating sun, sweat growing

under the brow while the women’s

scarves stick to their skin.


My father, religious—

the deep tone of his recitation flooding the halls,

reverberating against our closed doors in the night,

his hands held together in prayer, his lips pressed

against our cheeks, while we rest and he waits for

his nightly meeting with the Lord.

At night, the angels watch over us while

my father’s heart burns like a flame, the candle

burning in the dark.


My father, selfless—

a mature heart more than willing to mend ours,

scarred and wizened by age, the years spent for

our favor and care. The hands that nurtured me

through the dark, fed me with grace, and held me

through tears that wracked my soul.

When I ask about his youth, he tells me about the

bygone days spent lazing under trees, chasing his

first love with a wooden flute and fighting with the boys

in the streets. Sometimes he laughs of his own accord,

a distant memory coming back to him in the form of

my siblings’ endless banter, the silver that coats our



It’s like water, he says,

watching his first grandchild toddle

towards him. A past that ebbs and flows

with the salt of Time, a journey that we

experience across several lifetimes—

our younger selves leaping through

time and into the bodies of our children,

just waiting to start anew.

M.A. Riaz

(She/Her) An avid reader, writer, activist, and lover of Jasmine tea. Follow more writing on her Instagram, @mariazpoetry

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