DI Voices | Cracked knuckles are my dad’s love language

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Photo courtesy of Sanchita Teeka

Columnist Sanchita Teeka and her father, Ramesh Teeka, hike up Mission Peak at the beginning of 2022. Sanchita writes about how her father expresses his love to her without verbally saying the words “I love you.”

By Sanchita Teeka, Columnist

My dad doesn’t say “I love you,” and he never has. At least, it doesn’t come to him naturally, and it doesn’t come to our dynamic naturally. Sometimes, when I feel like annoying him, I tell him that I love him and force him to say it back because I know it makes him slightly uncomfortable.

When I started college, I tried to make it a thing by ending phone calls with an awkward “I love you. Say it back.” However, no matter how I tried, it just didn’t stick. It just felt weird and unnatural, and I think it was because we both knew that’s not how my dad shows his love.

When I was little, I used to get annoyed that my dad never explicitly told me he was proud of me or that he loved me. Although it annoyed me, I realized that I never doubted that he loved me. Eventually, I connected the dots — even though he never explicitly said it, he always felt it and was showing it in his own way.

In Indian culture, there is the concept of “Drishti,” or what some other cultures call the evil eye. The idea of Drishti is that others may be jealous of you, and with that jealousy comes bad intentions that may affect your health or success. In short, Drishti is the idea that other people are preying on your downfall out of jealousy.

To get rid of someone’s Drishti, a common practice is to motion toward them and then crack your knuckles on the side of your head. The amount the knuckles cracked is the amount of Drishti, and by doing this knuckle cracking, the Drishti is taken out. This gesture is only done by those who would wish the best for you, wanting nothing less than success and happiness for you.

My dad has been doing this to me my entire life, ever since I was a baby. He even made a gesture of his own. First, he makes sure to tap my cheeks twice and then proceeds to crack his knuckles against the side of his head, taking out any Drishti I might have. Now, it means much more than just taking out my Drishti.

He does this whenever I tell him of a recent accomplishment, when I come home from college, when he comes to visit me at college, before he leaves after dropping me off at college and any other time others might substitute words of appreciation for. 

While others often use words to show love and affection, for my dad, it’s a small gesture rooted in our Indian culture that shows me he cares. Because of my dad, I’ve come to see one more portrayal of care, one more love language. 

 

Sanchita is a sophomore in LAS.

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