That’s All He Said


The Craigslist postings scrolled up and I unblinkingly scanned through all the impossible jobs. A babysitting job in Stuttgart caught my eye. These people in the ad sound really nice. Wish I could somehow make this daily-travel work. Ma-y-y-y-be next semester.


A friend’s friend, who was leaving town, came over. He had had a babysitting job for sometime with this english-speaking family with two kids. And now he was looking for his replacement. Perfect.

Will you do it? To his question, my mouth let out a very audible YES. Then when I asked myself that, my mind barely stifled a ‘Oh no, what will I tell Papa?!’.


You know how a kid fumbles with his crayon to make a painting, and how he keeps looking up to read his parents’ face to see if they think he is doing it well. I am that kid and have always been. I require an assurance that they are happy with me.


The friend’s friend was going to the babysitting place the next morning. Before that I had to convince my father to nod the assent. My coaxing session made up of plenty Why can’t I-s, pleas and futile whining that culminated in two of my bleak arguments against Papa’s ample solid counter-reasons.

Me: Everyone in the University has small jobs. Atleast I am not getting a bartender job!

Papa: You should be studying, not wasting time trying to make money.

Me: Seriously Papa, I like kids. I am not doing this for money.

Papa: Do what you like.

He kept saying Do what you like and I kept hearing No, you cannot. The end of this phone call had pushed me back to where I started. So, I called again.

With a throaty voice this time, I made rhetoric questions to Papa: Have I ever gone against you? You think I would be so insistent if I didn’t want it bad enough?

He paused and I awaited the rejection to creep in from the other end of this silent phone line.

But all he said

You don’t have to live to make me happy.

A chill. A relief. Was it a yes or a no? Yet I managed a fitting reply

Ok Papa, goodnight then.

The phone blinked it’s screen to life and I let it slide off between my fingers. I wondered; That’s it? And just like that I was decreed a sort of freedom.

Ofcourse I had known I cannot make everyone happy. I had chained myself down by this self-imposed need to be validated and to be lauded for my decisions. And Papa just turned the right key in to free me off of those chains to a life of my own volition and choices.


To Papa, this Father’s Day.


14 thoughts on “That’s All He Said

  1. This line stuck out for me: “I require an assurance that they are happy with me.” I have a similar desire for validation that I’m doing the right thing, that I’m capable at my job vs. trusting in myself. Congrats for taking a brave step out towards believing in yourself and going after what you want.


  2. Ah, me too, me too. At twenty-eight, I finally let those ideas of approval go – I still struggle with “what will my parents think?” but ultimately I remember by making myself happy, I best serve them.


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