Shazia Mirza: Diary of a disappointing daughter

I’m in Amsterdam, and I went to visit the Anne Frank house. There was a short film being shown of Otto Frank, Anne’s father. The room was full with people when Otto said: “After I read Anne’s diary, I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t the Anne that I knew. Then I thought, ‘Do we ever really know our children?'” There was a silence and a woman behind me said: “He’s right about that.” Other women joined in and all agreed.

Do we ever really know our parents? There was a time when I couldn’t spend five minutes with mine. I’d always leave feeling angry, resentful, and thinking surely I can’t be related to these people? But last week I spent a whole day with them, and it was quite nice. We went to the post office, then we went looking for a new car and something to eat.

I saw them in a different light. They are no longer the monsters they used to be but a sweet old couple in their 70s with all their eccentricities and flaws. And they actually have a sense of humour, which I never noticed before.

Before they die, I may get to know them both in a different way, and they may get to know us. But then, as we were driving home from our day out, a man walked in front of our car. My dad shouted: “You little bastard. Get back in the pub!” I thought, I really don’t know this man at all.