Daddy’s little girl: My last love and her first

Published: September 1, 2012

Tell her, everyday, 'Papa loves you, darling, and he knows he will always be your first love.' PHOTO: YOUSUF BAWANY

Daughters are precious. Seems like yesterday when I took mine into my arms for the very first time; it’s been 17 months already, and time seems to have no intention of slowing down.

At the office, I just can’t wait for the day to end so that I can enjoy the sound of her laughter, the sight of her cherubic face, the touch of her little arms wrapped around my neck, the taste of the half-eaten saliva-soaked potato chip that she lovingly shoves into my mouth, and the smell of watermelon-flavoured baby shampoo in her hair.

Every day that I get to spend with her is a day I cherish.

There are instances when my daughter is out with her mother and I finally have some peace. I hate to admit it but I am super-excited about the prospect of getting some alone time for myself, but five minutes into this ‘quality time’, and I start missing her immensely.

So ,to fill this void, I grab my car keys and go pick her up from wherever she has gone to; if that’s not an option (like when she’s with her mother at a wedding reception), all I can do is wait for her to come back.


At this point in her life, she’s on the road to self-discovery, learning new words, acquiring new tastes, and making bold choices at a staggering pace. Fairly recently, to my utter pride, she started calling me ‘Papa’, while referring to herself as ‘Dolly’. Moreover, she now understands the meaning of ‘No, No, No!’ and she doesn’t hesitate to say it out loud if something is not to her liking!

She’s becoming head-strong, assertive and opinionated – less a child, more an adult. It makes me reflect on the high intellectual level kids these days have as compared to those of my generation, all the while being painfully aware that she’s growing up faster than I want her to.

There are a few quirks of hers that, at times, astound, amaze, annoy, irritate, and even worry me, but looking at them from another perspective, I am reminded that these cute little habits of hers won’t last forever, that the sands of time are slipping, no matter how tightly I try holding on to it.

So if you have a little angel in your life, just:

1. Let her snuggle and sleep in your arms all night even if you find it uncomfortable; it won’t be long before she starts getting comfortable with her independence.

2. Let her hug you and kiss you and call you ‘papa’ incessantly; it won’t be long before she leaves you for another man.

3. Let her ask as many questions as she wants and answer her no matter how many times she asks them; it won’t be long before she discovers Google.

4. Let her run all over the house like a headless chicken, even if it means getting a few bumps on her head; it won’t be long before she is bound and gagged by the ‘norms‘ of our society.

5. Let her squeal with joy as you throw her up in the air, waiting to fall back into your arms; it won’t be long before she gets too heavy to carry.

6. Let her throw tantrums when she’s mad; it won’t be long before she starts hiding her emotions behind a smile.

7. Let her make ‘pretend‘ calls on your phone; it won’t be long before she starts making ‘real‘ calls and you’ll be the one frowning at the bills.

8. Let her eat what she wants, when she wants; it won’t be long before she starts counting calories.

9. Let her put her feet on your feet while you walk; it won’t be long before she finds her own stride.

10. Let her drag/squeeze you into her four-by-four play tent to have a tea party; it won’t be long before she discovers that the exact same (invisible) area around her is actually her ‘personal space‘.

11. Let her roar with laughter when you make funny faces at her; it won’t be long before she develops a sense of humour and realises funny faces aren’t ‘funny’ anymore.

12. Let her run straight into your arms when you get home from work; it won’t be long before she has more pressing matters on her mind than to greet her tired old man.

13. Let her have as much milk as she wants; it won’t be long before she finds you chasing after her for her daily intake of calcium.

14. Let her wake you up in the morning; it won’t be long before she leaves for school by the time you wake up.

15.  Let her believe she is Cinderella; it won’t be long before she realises life isn’t a fairy tale.

16. Let her wear clothes/accessories that match yours; it won’t be long before she hates the very idea of color-coordinating dresses with her dad.

People say you can only understand being the father of a daughter if you have one of your own – this could never have been more true.

The first time I laid eyes on my daughter, I cried, knowing that God has loaned her to me for a very short time, until someone else sweeps her off her feet and takes her away. Try as I might, I can’t delay the inevitable or stop time for that matter, but she’ll always be my baby girl no matter how old she gets.

Tell her, everyday,

‘Papa loves you, darling, and he knows he will always be your first love.

The original version of this post can be seen here.

Read more by Yousuf here, or follow him on Twitter @YousufBawany

Yousuf Bawany

Yousuf Bawany

A writer who enjoys to cook foods from across the world. He blogs at He tweets @YousufBawany (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Malik

    What a beautiful article! So true. God bless you for writing this.Recommend

  • Adnan Cyprian

    Please don’t throw her in the air it is very dangerous. Secondly don’t let her eat anything she wants, good habits are established early on. Recommend

  • Mm

    Awwwww!!!! such a sweet article. God bless you both. Recommend

  • Ms Marium

    I literally missed my father while reading it – I know he is watching me from Heaven and being proud tht I graduated – love you papa !Recommend

  • Fawad

    Heartwarming article to say the least, I pray with all my heart that life may always be a fairy tale for your beautiful daughter and may you always be the best man in her life, her shelter and her refugeRecommend

  • Ayesha Ahmad

    Loved it, so much! I’m all teary eyed after reading this. Missing my own dad now whom I haven’t met for the past 4 years Recommend

  • Dak

    Great writing friend – so true & so precious are daughters – May Allah bless all our daughters with the very best always & hameshaRecommend

  • Awans

    Yeah We love our Daughters but we love to jail the daughters of others and left them in Jails based on religion as we think only we have hearts and only Bearded and Islamic people deserve to love their daughters. Just think about the daughter of that Poor Christian Guy whose daughter is now in Jail and who think like the same about her Flower like the above father but unfortunately his daughter was Born in Pakistan and never been able to protect her daughter from the Majority Crowd.Recommend

  • Salman

    an amazing read. God bless you and your family with all the happiness. :-)Recommend

  • Sahar

    Its so “awwww” written piece !
    Makes me more connected to my father. “Tearful eyes !! :(Recommend

  • Parvez

    Great read, liked the way you did the 16 points at the end.
    Being a father, I think the hardest part is to ‘ let your child go, in-order to keep her / him ‘.
    You could have said something about the mama because without her the whole picture crumbles.Recommend

  • Habiba Younis

    such a sweet read!!! may God keep your bond strong as ever throughout life, iA :)Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Am teary-eyed too!Recommend

  • Wait A Minute

    @ Awans

    You seriously had to bring that into this piece? Shame on you for that.Recommend

  • hafsa

    really love it !!!Recommend

  • Vigilant

    Good readRecommend

  • C_Dose

    Good to see your blog post now shared at this scale. Love each and everypart of it. Keep writing :)Recommend

  • Miss Syed

    No doubt, a father is the biggest shelter and what i say “Gharoor” of a girl. The love, care, concern shown by a father has no match in the world. I say stupid silly things but my father remembers even the minute details out of my lame stories… even i say, dad those grapes look green. he’d immediately but the whole carton..sometimes i don’t need some things but he just brings them to me as i mentioned it ONCE… such pure is the love of a dad.. May Allah keep my father and everyone’s father safe, healthy and shower them with a long, peaceful life.. even the thought of God forbid NOT having him by my side sends shivers down my spine..

    Enjoy your time with your little girl !!Recommend

  • excellent

    Loved the post! God bless you and your little girlRecommend

  • Mehak Fatima

    This is such a great read. It just brought tears into my eyes. To this day I believe my dad is my hero! No man can love a girl more than her father. I love u papa from the core of my heart. My every dad live a long, happy and healthy life. Recommend

  • Zoya

    Beautifully written. I lost my father this July, and after reading this I could actually relate to so many things.Recommend

  • citizen

    Wonderful piece . It made me teary eyed :(
    Dad is one of the best gift a girl can get in life . For me he is my best friend , a protector ,a life mentor. love dad <3Recommend

  • Erum

    i LOVEEEEE reading ur posts.. this is by far the BESTEST blog i have ever read on ET :) may ur girl always enjoy a great relationship with u … amen :)Recommend

  • Dinky Mind

    Love your articles. They’re so light and enjoyable. Keep writing :)Recommend

  • Saif Khan

    Such a lovely piece. I realized that there are some very good blogs on tribune. Recommend

  • random1

    beautiful and touching. i got dewy-eyed while reading it. God bless your sweetipie :)Recommend

  • Dee

    I miss my father :)Recommend

  • Deendayal M.Lulla

    I have yet to spend a single second with my only daughter ,following my divorce. I have been ruthlessly denied the love,affection,and access to my daughter for the last more than a decade. I am a 55-year-old handicapped father (blind in the left eye,and with low-vision in the right eye). My daughter grew up (now she is a young girl of 19 years),without my knowledge. There is no law on shared parenting. Children are used as football by the warring parents in case of divorced/estranged couples. Even the UN Charter on Human Rights of Children is silent on this violation of human rights of both the child and the affected parent. I have written to the UN on this aspect. I am available on Twitter – @unfortunatefath. Courts are of no help. Children should enjoy the love of both the parents. I have carefully preserved the toys of my daughter,andher birthday photographs. My daughter was very fond of celebrating her birthdays. I used to tell her,”do not grow up,and girls are safe and happy as kids,and there is no fun in growing up”. But time flies,and I do not know when I will be able to spend even a single second with her. I have opened several bank accounts in her name,but my wife is not allowing me to have the accounts transferred in her name. I have even received a letter from one of the banks. I met my wife,and she just took the letter,and asked me not to visit her. If I am lucky,I meet my daughter on the roads. My situation is that bad that even if I die,My wife will not send my daughter to say last goodbye to me. My story is good for a film producer.Recommend

  • Sanam

    This is so so so heart touching :) had me wishing my father had thought of all this when i was a little girl. May God bless you both. Wish you had put up a picture of your little princess. :)Recommend

  • Narjis Fatema

    Sweet! was a pleasure reading it…. your daughter is lucky to be blessed with such a loving father… Recommend

  • RK Singh
  • Roshni

    Precious! You made me miss my dad.. I have recently lost him, so this really hit home. Thank you!Recommend

  • Farheen

    It made me cry :'( well written piece with a sweet touchRecommend

  • Haleema Hassaan

    What a wonderful description of the “growing-up” phase that changes things and relationships so much. No wonder one should cherish each moment and never taking anything or anyone for granted. I must say, this article along with the pictures is a masterpiece. =)Recommend

  • A


  • Pro Bono Publico

    ..I want a ‘baby-girl’. :)Recommend

  • rabiii

    heart touching nd beautiful article…love itRecommend

  • Madiha

    she’ll learn reading fast if she knew you wrote something so loving for/about her!Recommend

  • Naveed

    Story of my life… very well written… Recommend

  • Yousuf Bawany

    Dear Readers,

    Thank you for liking my post. I’m glad so many of you can relate to it.

    @Deendayal M.Lulla: I pray that you are reunited with your daughter. Every moment I spend away from mine is pure torture so I can understand what you must be going through.

    @Pervez: Mama post coming soon; stay tuned. And for the record, these were originally 24 points not 16. See for details.

    @Awans: A daughter is a daughter, no matter what religion you belong to.

    Take care,

  • AJK

    Very well written. Being blessed with a 23 month old angel, i can SO relate to it!

    C’mon brother. lets not be cruel and try to pin point each other, instead of saying right to whatever’s right and vice versa. Be mature enough to understand that what pakistani media portrays due to its immaturity is not always the right story and what NBC/CNN doesn’t portray, is also not true.Recommend

  • Bisma

    no doubt daughters are a gift from God! i’m glad i have one!Recommend

  • JB

    As someone who is about to become a father of a daughter himself; I am now more anxious for the day I hold her in my arms. Wonderful article! Brought tears in my eyes!Recommend

  • Angelic

    Absolutely beautiful!! Thank you for writing this post. My Fiancé is expecting his very first daughter & this was just so perfect for him to read. I believe a daughters first love is their Daddy but a Daddy’s first True Love will always be his Little girl <3 Thank you!!!Recommend