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Today, fathers will open presents of cologne, ties, golf balls, pens and books.
But Teju Srivastav is simply grateful for the simple blessing of being a part of his child's life, everyday, for 12 years.
It could have been different, as 13 years ago, his marriage crumbled and he and his wife separated. They retained joint custody. And his daughter Karuna has lived with him since she was three-years-old. Considering that he was only the third person in New Jersey to get legal and physical joint custody, it was both an achievement and relief.
"What I would like to do this Father's Day, is not focus so much on gifts and meals, but retake the pledge I took 12 years ago. This time, I will have to take advantage of the fact that now my child can understand and really appreciate that pledge, and find a way to communicate it to her, so that when my child grows up I can be proud to say 'she grew up just like me'," said Srivastav, 45, who lives and works in Piscataway, New Jersey, as a CEO of the Internet portal dakhanna.com
He immigrated to the US as a student 25 years ago from New Delhi.
He quotes, from a song by Harry Chapin, Cats and the cradle, whose opening lines go, "My child arrived just the other day, He came to the world in the usual way. But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay. He learned to walk while I was away. And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew, He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad. You know I'm gonna be like you.''
Parenthood, experts say, is an acquired skill in the fast-paced, ever-changing world. And Srivastav agrees.
"Unfortunately, marriages crumble, jobs and businesses take over. Like many before me and many I am sure after me, I have been guilty of "catching planes and paying bills" and not spending as much time as I would have liked with my child. Also as the years are going by, I am beginning to realize that my daughter is growing up faster than I anticipated," Srivastav said.
Today, Srivastav says it's relatively easy to be a father.
"It was a lot of hard work when she was younger. I had to cook, clean, bathe and do everything for her. Over the years, it grew easier and easier," he said.
Narain Bhatia, CEO and president of asianmatches.com Inc and suitablematch.com estimates that of the total Indian American population -- which stands at 1,678,765 according to the 2000 census -- about six per cent marriages end in divorce.
"The main reason for divorce is the mismatch of personalities, conflict due to identity crisis, which means Indians tend to be 'eastern' in India and change to 'western' outside, and finally they have no access to proper guidance/advice, which helps them resolve conflicts," Bhatia said.
"In some marriages, people want everything; they want horoscopes to match and yet they want a modern spouse. Or they want someone from their caste and still want her to be contemporary. That's why things go wrong."
Srivastav has advice for single dads who do not have custody: "Never give up on your kids just because your ex-wife makes it difficult to see them," he said.
The biggest casualty of divorce is the child. And the children are often used as pawns in the battle between estranged spouses.
"The impact of divorce on Indian children is just as devastating on the child as in any other divorce. We work with many families and we always tell both spouses that they have to keep the interest of the child ahead of their own differences," said Dr Ravi Sarma, who lives and works in Atlanta.
An example is Ajay, who was married with two kids. He spent a decade commuting between Manhattan and his home in New Jersey everyday, putting in long hours, all days of the week. His marriage became one in name only, because his wife could not understand his need to advance in Wall Street.
However, his colleague did and a close relationship developed between them, leading him to ask his wife for a divorce. It was bitterly given. He got visitation rights.
But when he would turn up on Friday evening, she would insist he was late and refuse to allow him to see the kids. After heated arguments, one of them would call the cops to intervene. After months of this, she picked up the kids and moved to Texas. He still left early on Fridays and flew there to see his kids.
She continued to bicker about his being late.
Finally, he stopped visiting. It's been seven years since he has seen his kids.
Srivastav knows he is one of the lucky ones. And he analyses what Father's Day means to him.
"As I reflect upon this, I go back to the warm June morning 12 years ago when my daughter was born. No amount of preparation can actually prepare you for the moment when you first hold your child in your arms. The feeling of love is so overpowering and the promises that you make to your child at that time, knowing that they are more promises to yourself," he said.
"A promise to love and cherish this tiny creature, a promise to care and provide for this tiny creature, and perhaps most important, a promise to become a role model, so that she can grow up to be a human being who is happy, content and fulfilled."
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