Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I am my Father's Daughter

"I am not ashamed to say that no man I ever met was my father's equal, and I never loved any other man as much."
~ Hedy Lamarr

It was my father's birthday on 04.03.2012.

It is extremely hard for me to describe how much my father means to me, and as I type this post I can feel my heart swell with extreme emotions of love, admiration, fear, name it. All jumbled up inside.

How can you express in mere words how someone of such stature and influence in your life means to you? I for one, in this post... shall try.

When people ask me about my father or when I speak of him, my mind fills up with images, like a slideshow that plays in your head.

I remember how when we were living in the UK and were poor. I do know that we were better off than the JPA scholars but life was still not the easiest. My father worked as a cleaner to make some extra money on the side apart from the scholarship money and benefits that my mother and us siblings were given by the British Government. As my mother was busy studying, my father made a point to learn how to cook and clean the house.

I remember how he would walk us to school everyday and pick us up from school after it finished. He would feed us, clothe us, he would take us to our friends' houses to play, he made a point of knowing the names of all our friends.

And then Airiel's Maksu met with an accident. Nenda went into a full blown depression. For 3 months Maksu was in a coma and for 3 months Nenda did not want to meet Bonda and I. My father held the family together. He had to put us up at a friend's house to stay for the 3 months because he had to be there for Nenda and to watch over Maksu.

I remember how he would visit us everyday, sometimes he would take us home and spend some time with us while he had a quick shower, cooked something for himself and us and cook some food  to bring to Nenda. Nenda stayed at the hospital and never left for those 3 months. So it was my father who was a constant presence and made us feel that everything would be ok. He would walk with us to school in the mornings, whether we were at a neighbour's house or we were with him.

I remember Maksu then woke up from her coma. Wake up she did, but with permanent brain damage and having her left side skull cap removed, recovery was a long way away, perhaps almost impossible. Nenda slowly recovered and started seeing us again. We moved back home. For that period of time, my father would walk us to school every morning,  take 2 buses and one train ride to reach the hospital to be with Maksu and Nenda. Before school ends he would take 2 more buses and a train ride to reach home, do the laundry and cook, pick us up from school, eat with us, pack some food for nenda and then would take another 2 bus rides and a train ride with us to go to the hospital. At night after Maksu fell asleep, we would all go home via 2 more bus rides and a train ride. And this would be repeated everyday until we left for Malaysia after Maksu was well enough.

And we returned to Malaysia. I remember how in a family meeting (our family believed in discussing all matters out in the open and we have had formal family meetings ever since I could remember), my father announced that he quit his job as a teacher to take care of Maksu. We had filed court proceedings in the UK against the company who crashed into us, but it would be years (10 to be exact) before the proceedings would be over. We were broke, and could not afford a maid to take care of Maksu. My father agreed to sacrifice his ego, future prospects of his job, his social standing and stay at home to take care of Maksu.

I remember how Maksu could not afford a wheelchair at the time, and so my father CARRIED her in his arms everywhere we went. From the house to the car, from the car to the house. For the alternative medicine treatments at some random villages where there was no wheelchair access, my father would carry maksu in her arms even though we later managed to buy a wheelchair.

So he would bathe Maksu, feed her, talk with her, know her tantrums. He would take her out to the park and forced her to exercise with his own version of physio. But he did not only take care of Maksu, no. He washed, cooked and cleaned. He would take us to school and pick us up from school. All this he did without complaint as Nenda was working as the sole breadwinner of the family.

I remember that Nenda wanted to further her studies and obtain a PHd. I know that my father has spent his entire life in Ipoh and that was where all his friends and all our relatives were. His political career was thriving in Ipoh. But my father supported Nenda. He left all of the things that was dear to him behind to support Nenda in her studies and we moved to KL.

I remember how my father cooked, cleaned and continued to take care of Maksu, Bonda and I in KL. But it was not just us, no. After my father would send us to school, he would send Nenda to UPM with Maksu in tow, while waiting for Nenda to finish her work for her thesis, he would take Maksu to the park and exercise Maksu. And then he would go home, do the laundry, cook and clean the house. He would pick us up from school, drop us at home so we can take care of Maksu and then rush to UPM to pick Nenda up. On weekends where we could watch over Maksu, he would drop Nenda off and wait for Nenda. He was at the UPM grounds so much that a lot of the people there would know him by name!.

I remember how it was my father who took me to the hospital when I was in pain with contractions and later gave birth to Airiel. And I did tell you  in my previous posts how my father would always be there for me, would rush to my side when I have problems, like when I was locked out of my car in the middle of the highway. He was there when Aries was not able to be.

And now my father spends a lot of time with Airiel. At times when I have to rush to Court, he would send Airiel to school. Despite being in his fifties, he still insists on sending and picking up Nenda to and from her office. Despite Bonda and I being in our late 20s reaching our 30s, he still insists on getting Nenda to call us everytime we are late from work getting home so he knows where we are.

MasyaAllah. I cannot explain what a man my father is. The above, even all of the above cannot accurately describe all the sacrifices he has made for his family.

My love, respect and admiration for all that he is, words just fail me.

Happy Birthday Daddy.

"Dear Allah, please do not grant any other place but the highest of the heavens for my father, for there is no other place that is befitting of him. Amin"

I am my father's daughter. Then, now and forevermore.

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