On Loving A Daughter Made Of Fire.
Hold her. Even when your delicate skin begins to char and your lungs swell with smoke, hold her.
If you don’t, she will begin to believe that nobody else will.
When she is aching, hold her closer still, until the steady rhythm of your heart is enough to tame the frenzied beasts in her chest. Drizzle moonshine over the insignia of claws inside her throat where tigresses live, preying upon her words.
As she sobs, reassure her that even though every breath she gasps for is tinged with the taste of blood, it is the blood that will beat love and life into her own someday daughter’s heart.
Don’t be ashamed to tell her how you know this. Reveal your imperfections.
Ask to be understood.
Introduce her to the women who braved the fire to build you: your grandmother lives in your tender hands, your mother in the grace of your smile, your sister in the gentle curve of your frame. We are all, in some small way, immortal. As she becomes you, she too will inherit parts of them. Show her they are watching over her when she sees herself for the first time in the mirror of your armor and realizes she was born a warrior baby.
Remind her that anger is natural. When she comes to you, convulsing inside with the volcano she cannot contain, sift through the ashes with her to reveal generations of forgotten women who have never known escape. Let her see that the fire will not — no, cannot — scorch her. She was born of it, after all.
Teach her that she is not your child, but the offspring of the salty sea breeze and the thunderous waterfall, daughter of jagged purple mountaintops and the weeping willow, the howling of wolves and the flaming sunset.
“We are not mere human beings,” tell her, “we are stars the sky tried to swallow whole; the stars whose shrieks of fury pierced the darkness like bullets: to this day, the sky bleeds light through phantom wounds like you and I.”
Notice the subtler trials in her life: the way concealer and lipstick melt away from her skin, how her legs tremble as she forces them into a delicate criss-cross, the way sleep eludes her for the stars in her eyes refuse to be besieged by the noose of the night. As she spends those sleepless nights praying to the moon to lend her its femininity, remind her that each day the sun sets itself ablaze to illuminate the moon.
Explain to her that fire is alive, spirited, and that it passes on.
She is part of an integral legacy, guided by those who once walked the very same path she treads. Remind her that a day will come where she will light the way for another on this journey, that a day will come where she will help people, not hurt them with her flames.
Stand by her when the people she loves begin to pull away: she is too intense for them, too sentient. Fire is contagious, catching, and nobody wants to go down burning. When she believes that nobody will ever love her, reveal that hearts are made of coal, but hers is warm, blazing, special.
Stand at the doorstep of her heart, afire, whispering, “Honey, I’m home,” hoping that she will, someday, let you in. After all, you are the only one who will understand her. Arm her with wisdom, with love make her beautiful in her own eyes.
For she is.
Just as you were and will always be.
When your heart aches with worry, remember through the flames, you survived. Through the heartache and the fear, you survived. Through the bitterness and the soul searching, you survived.
Through all the odds, you lived, learnt, loved and survived. You survived. You survived. You survived.
And she will too.
Sanjana Kothary is a 16-year-old lover of language and words. She is a firm believer in magic, karma, the Universe and little miracles (like tea and good books). In her free time, she enjoys writing, painting and playing the piano.