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"I felt like I lost unconditional love," Priyanka Chopra Jonas tells PEOPLE of losing her father, Ashok, in 2013

By Mary Green and Jen Juneau
February 10, 2021 10:19 AM
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Priyanka Chopra Jonas has a forever reminder of her dad on her wrist.

The actress and singer opens up in her new memoir, Unfinished, about the "Daddy's lil girl ... " tattoo that she got in honor of her father, Ashok, a year before his 2013 death. The sentimental wrist tattoo is modeled off of her father's own handwriting.

In the book, Chopra Jonas, 38, remembers getting the tattoo during a trip to Ibiza, Spain, after wrapping an album she'd been recording there. And right away, she knew she had to dedicate it to her father.

So she called Ashok — a former surgeon, who had been significantly affected by cancer by then — and requested him to write out the phrase that he so often called her and used when writing cards his daughter.

priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra
| Credit: Suit Jaiswal/Getty

After he was happy with the results (he practiced many times, as it was difficult for him to hold a pen at that point), Chopra Jonas surprised him with the tattoo, and he couldn't have been happier.

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Speaking with PEOPLE, Chopra Jonas says she "looked up to" her "kind, gentle, sensitive" father "like he was everything I wanted to be."

"Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be like my dad," she shares. "I was like, 'I want to be the person who's the funniest in the room. I want to be on stage and own it like he does. I want to be excellent at surgery. I want my life to mean something.' "

The star goes on to say that she and Ashok were "twins in many ways," like in how they communicated and formed bonds with each other.

"We didn't have to talk about my heartbreaks or his sadnesses. We just used to sit together in silence, maybe have a glass of wine and talk about stupid things and laugh," Chopra Jonas says. "That was our relationship."

The stars then recalls how she "floated" through the days and "grieved" after her father's death, and feeling "confused for a very long time."

"I was also thrown into a completely different country, and trying to navigate a completely different career after having a solid career in my country for almost 10 years," says the Indian-born actress. "Suddenly I was walking into rooms, reintroducing myself, not knowing anyone. It was really scary, and I think all of it collectively just knocked the wind out of me."

By losing her father, Chopra Jonas also "felt like [she] lost unconditional love" — a "scary" thought, considering how she feels about the circle of life.

"I feel like we are born alone and we die alone. We have a train compartment, and we're all singularly riding out our hours and days. People come in and out of your train, some a for long duration, some for a short duration," she explains. "But eventually it's just you and your endgame. The only thing that's consistent in that are your children and your parents. That doesn't change. That is not what you can choose, and that's unconditional."