People told me that a father is his daughter's first love. I remember my friends and their beautiful relationship with their dad – and then there is my relationship with you. I find that saying to be a big chunk of lie. You were not “my first love.” I don't even see a “father figure” in you.
When I was a kid – too young to remember anything – I guess you were sort of a father figure. I knew this by pictures, by my big smile. But, when I started my school year, all of it changed, completely. You hit me, screamed at me, grabbed me, scaring me to death and sending me to ask God why I was born to be your child. You made me run to my room and cry myself to sleep.
You raised me as a Muslim and I understand how much you want me to become a “perfect” Muslim woman. You slapped me twice when I forgot to do my prayer in the morning one time (and how I tried so hard not to cry when I arrived at school). When I was 10, you called me an “infidel”, which I understood then as someone who has betrayed Allah and his or her own father. A 10-year-old a girl doesn't know how, nor does she want, to betray her own God because she knows she could go to hell for that.
I ran away from home because I was fed up with the bullies at the religious school I was in and because of the dictator you had become to your own daughter. You found me and, for once, I was grateful that you did. Looking back now, I no longer know if I want to be found by you.
Sure, you have since stopped using your hand and your screams to punish me. But you have left a big scar in my heart already and you are still treating me as if I’m not valuable. You compared me to candy or water bottle in order to make a point so I would wear hijab, which hurt me. I am a human being, Dad. And if you could let my mother choose when she wanted to wear hijab, why couldn’t you let me choose? I told you every single reason that I could think of. I am not ready, I want to study Islam, I want to do this and that, but you never listened.
I wish I could tell you, Dad, that I have already picked my religion and it is not Islam. But I am scared because you keep telling me that I am an infidel, that you regret the decision to put me to college, and that you always ask yourself why you didn’t put me in an Islamic school?
You expect me to care, to tell you stories about my day, when I don't even see a 'father figure' in you. You force your kids to do things your way without listening to their reasons. You call me the worst name a non-Muslim person can hear from a Muslim. You didn't allow me to go to my favorite university and study what I really wanted.
Every time we have an argument and I brought up my childhood to you and how much you made me cry, you always ask me why I can't forget it. Dad, I can't forget it because it was the worst nightmare a little child could ever have. I would never let my husband do what you did to me to my kids.
Dad, I am a feminist. I cried my heart out when you compared me to candy and water bottle. Dad, I am a Buddhist. I feel sick to my stomach when I heard our driver said that you joined the street protest against our Chinese and Christian governor and said disgusting things about the minorities. Dad, I support the LGBTQ+ people. I screamed my heart out when you called them disgusting names after finding out my opinion about them. Dad, I am a human being and I am scared of you. I cannot wait to let myself free from you. I am tired of you controlling me. The only reason why I am still here, living my life with you, is because I am scared.
Did you remember when you promised my mother that you won't hurt anybody in the house? You already broke it a long time ago when you hurt me, completely.
Ara is an 18-year-old college student who loves to read, listen to music and write stories. Although she is studying psychology, she has a big interest in gender and sexuality, politics, philosophy, and international relations.