Last night, Vincent and I finally watched Fiddler On The Roof, and not surprisingly, I loved it. I was surprised, though, by how much it reminded me of my family; the bond between sisters, the oppression of growing up in a patriarchal culture, but more than anything, how hard it is for a father who loves his children and is trying to reconcile the culture and traditions he wishes them to have, with the world they have been born into which he can't deny is changing rapidly.
It's hard being a daughter to a father, and hard being a father to a daughter. I felt like my dad never heard me; for much of my life I also felt like he didn't know me. I realised later that I didn't know him, either, and that his tradition was one where an adult didn't listen to a child; their job was to provide, and protect, and eventually hand her on to someone else who would provide for and protect her. My father was not Tevye, but there is a lot of my father in Tevye, and Tevye in my father. I couldn't have appealed to my father the way Tevye's daughter's did; pride and a traditional sense of right and wrong, and what is appropriate would have prevented my father from being able to hear me. But I was wrong when I thought he didn't care about me. I know now that the ambitions he had for me weren't about his pride; I don't deny that he would have enjoyed being able to say I was employed in something he holds in high esteem, but I know that he wanted me to be able to look after myself, and to not want. I feel as if I straddle worlds, having been born in a country where my skin colour means I am frequently asked where I am from, but not being able (yet) to speak the language of that country. My father straddles the same worlds, but the one he lives in is the one he is less familiar with. I wish I had realised that sooner; I wish we both had. For most of my life, I felt as if my father and I were fundamentally different. It makes me happy to realise that, while we have differences, fundamentally different we are not.
It's a funny coincidence that tomorrow is Father's Day. I already knew the song below, and even when sung by Kirk it made me cry, it's so beautiful. Listening to it now, after having written about my dad, it makes me feel sad, but not in a forever kind of way. We find it so hard to understand each other, but we've both been trying to tell the other we love them. I've think I've finally deciphered his code; now I just need to translate mine so he knows too.