How do you cope when someone you love changes?

A before and after moment in one girl’s relationship with her dad.

Recorded in Canterbury, outside a pub.

Music by James Iball, photo by Craig Whitehead.

Transcript

Okay, I’m just thinking of things that I can remember, like fond memories that just kind of come up when I have like really bad moments in my life, I think of this particular thing where… Okay because my dad, he used to drink, he used to party, everything. He’s a Muslim. So, but a few years before, he had a big fight with his best friend. And his best friend kind of insulted my mom. And he punched him. And then a few weeks later, he heard that he died. So then my dad heard about it and he was like “Oh shit!” like you know, obviously he got into like a bit of a crisis. And then like a few months later, he found out that his best friend, who was our neighbour, had skin cancer. And you don’t recover from skin cancer, because it’s all over your body, right? And then he went for Hajj, in Mecca. And then he became all pious and everything.

So for me it’s this kind of… like my life has become separated. Like when I think about my life before my dad’s like pilgrimage and after my dad’s pilgrimage, it’s different. Before my dad’s pilgrimage, we had like music in the house, we had like Frank Sinatra playing on Sunday morning and all that stuff. And now, I wake up and it’s religious TV. And it’s okay, because it’s my dad, and it’s who he is. But then whenever I have a special day – like now when I won the like second place for the award – I always text him and be like “Can we have that dance?” And what I’m referring to is the dance that we would have every Sunday morning when I was young, when he would play The Platters, it’s like this African-American band. And we would dance to it every Sunday morning. And so whenever I do something great, or like I get a good grade, I’m like “Can we dance?” And he’ll get it, he’s like “Okay”. He’ll know like what I’m talking about, because that’s like the fond memory I have of him before he became this religious pious person.

[Carys]: So how did it affect your relationship with him?

Well, he’s my dad. And I don’t know in my family we kind of… I don’t know, I mean I don’t want to black box people, I don’t want to generalise. But in modern European families there’s a bit of a separation with like the child and the parent. But with us it’s like… if your dad becomes this, you become that as well. So he would often make jokes and be like “When are you going to cover your hair? When are you going to do this and that…” And I’m like “I’m never going to do it. I still like beer, you know. I can’t be like wearing a head-scarf and drinking beer.” But it’s affected our relationship in a way that I’ve had to try to kind of find a compromise. So when I’m with him, I have to do things that he loves, and do things that he wants. So like we go to the mosque, and we pray and all that kind of stuff. But then I don’t know, it’s a bit hard. When we do that whole Sunday morning dance, when I’ll be like – okay like I get a good grade, and I go home, and I’m like “Can we do that dance?” And we dance and I can feel this kind of reluctance. You feel like that he’s kind of slipping back into that old person and he doesn’t want to be that person. And I feel bad, because I’m like pushing my dad to be this person that he doesn’t want to be. But then even though I think it’s a better person…the free, more artistic person that he was. But it’s not who he wants to be.  You know what I mean? Talking about my dad… I feel like crying. I forgot to smoke.

[Carys]: So the question I always ask at the end is, what’s the moral of the story?

The moral of the story… The moral of the story is that, I think… Because I’ve gone through a lot of stuff with ex boyfriends, ex girlfriends, everything. And the amount of pain that I felt is nothing like, I can’t even compare it to anything. But the thing is my parents and my family have always been there for me. And as much as I don’t appreciate their change, they appreciate mine, because I’m their child. And the things that I go through with drug abuse and like, everything. They embrace me, and I think that with this kind of change, it teaches me how to be like, you know, it’s fine that you want to change. Even though it’s something that I’m against, something I don’t understand. But I’ll still be there for you. For me, family is everything. It sounds so overrated and so common, but family literally is everything.