Shazia Mirza: Diary of a disappointing daughter

I received a birthday card from my parents. It came through the post in a big pink envelope with my dad’s handwriting on it and had a first-class stamp. But my dad still felt the need to scrawl “FIRST CLASS” across the top of the envelope.

On the front it said, “To a very special daughter on your BIRTHDAY”, and inside: “A daughter is a special gift to treasure all life through, and that’s why it’s such a joy to have a daughter just like you. And though it may have been said so many times before, no other PRECIOUS DAUGHTER could be LOVED and CARED for more.” And my dad signed it, “From Mum and Dad, Birmingham, UK” – just in case I’d forgotten where they’ve been living for the past 45 years.

Sometimes I go into shops and wonder who buys these cards. It’s my dad. He loves buying big cards with lots of over-the-top emotion.

It’s something friends of my generation would never do. My best friend sent me a card with a picture of Oscar Wilde on the front and had written underneath, “No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating. Have a Wilde Birthday! X”

I liked the card from my parents. It suits them. I don’t know if my dad read it before he bought it, but it says everything they may not say to my face but which I know they feel. In their old age they’re getting soppy, but it’s a vast improvement on that Saddam Hussein persona my dad adopted in the 80s and 90s.