For the first time in my life, I’ve written something about my father which is quite shocking. This is the only picture of me and my dad that I have as the other ones were lost when the house we were staying before was burned down into ashes. Fortunately, my mom has a copy of this picture in her wallet the whole time. Six months after this picture was taken, my dad passed away.
There are things in this word you’re not meant to possess, connections you’ll never get the chance to build with someone and individuals you’re bound to lose in your lifetime because life more than we know is inconsiderately wicked. A mysterious thief who has quite a flair for snatching away what belongs to you or the people you love with inconceivable speed the moment you turn your head the other way. That being said, fate for whatever reason stole a significant person in my life decades ago including the limitless privilege of calling someone “dad,””daddy,” or “papa.” The word “daddy” has been obliterated in my consciousness as far as I can remember albeit it isn’t deliberate. Not calling someone “daddy” isn’t a personal choice but because my dad was devoured by an incurable disease before my very own eyes when I was five years old. Thus, those supposedly innumerable chances of saying the word “daddy” to my father vanished with the death of him at the same time. He was twenty-three then, a vibrant young fellow brimming with life and spirit who by utmost despair decided to just slowly fade away into thin air one day.
The saddening reality however of not able to recall happy memories of him is quite appalling. It never fails to shame me as this is unforgivable not to mention it shows concrete disloyalty to him. This is probably the reason why all of these years, I seldom miss his absence. Of course, others might claim that losing him at a young age when my brain wasn’t fully capable of retaining memories is probably another factor. Albeit this is not entirely true as I can vividly remember and express the times he showed his “tough love” to me and my brother. For some reason I can never fathom, the austere memories of him are the ones I can lucidly remember.
I remember those few times when he used to smack me with a broom for running away from babysitting my brother. Being a merely, five-year-old kid who only knew how to frolic around the neighborhood not to mention clueless about the importance of looking after your siblings so your parents can go to work wasn’t an exemption from those beatings. As the older sister, I was partially accountable for raising my younger brother which included feeding him, bathing him, putting his clothes on, keeping him dry at all times and playing with him while my parents went out to make a living.
His thunderous voice of scaring my little brother in front of a massive container filled with water is also historically momentous. My brother who was barely two years old had a knack of crying like a banshee all day long. And sadly, the only approach to prevent him from howling his lungs out was for my dad to scare him with his incessant threats of drowning him in the water. Believe it or not, it was an effective method. I was standing there watching closely with horrified eyes, afraid for myself while trying not to whimper because I would end up with the same fate as my brother.
There’s nothing more poignant than my memory of him shaving my head for the sake of testing his hypothesis of my hair magically morphing into this “fuller and thicker hair” the moment it grew back. For him, the only intervention for my thin, fine hair to become full and thick was chopping it off right through every single follicle on my head. Now that I think about it, I would’ve probably gone berserk to defend the dignity of my hair as I still have sparsely fine, thin hair until now despite the unjust shaving that he did. I would’ve given him one hell of a speech as well about how you can’t defy genetics no matter how much intense effort you put into something immutable such as the human DNA.
Without a second thought, it is easy to judge my dad as a mean, inconsiderate and callous father for the things he did. Needless to say, his strict method of showing his “tough love” to his children was a necessity which certainly brought us closer as a family. Resenting him for his brutal method of showing his love has never been an option, as these are the memories of him I remember and cling to throughout the years. Besides, my personality and self-esteem aren’t crippled because of the things he did, and I didn’t turn into a traumatized child and neither did my brother.
Having said this, growing up without a father figure to look up to isn’t as damaging to the human core as what some people deem it to be. Although there are sporadic moments of wistful thinking which I do, that perhaps it would’ve been a considerable bliss to have another sibling or siblings if my father was still alive. The endless possibility of having someone to order around and my well-known yearning for an additional younger brother or sister would’ve been quenched indefinitely if this was the case.
I also remember those forlorn times way back in high school when I felt envious to my friend every time she uttered the word “daddy.” Begging her father if I could call him “daddy” is beyond doubt embarrassing not to mention too much to ask from a stranger, but my pathetic self didn’t care at all. A touching experience indeed, as not only had I witnessed an act of goodness from a stranger but also had learned that people can be humane if they want to. Her father, with his deep understanding of my yearning, was more than willing to allow me to call him “daddy.” This simple gesture meant the world to a girl like me who couldn’t remember the last time she called someone “daddy.”
Despite having those moments of yearning for someone to call “daddy,” the reality of my father not being around for so long has grown on me. I have learned to acknowledge this over the years without a doubt. Perhaps calling someone “daddy” will take a while but there’s no reason to rush as of now. Although I have to warn my future father-in-law and my future husband to be prepared from my infuriating squeaky, high-pitched voice of calling them “daddy/dad” gazillion times a day to make up for the years I haven’t uttered the word. 🙂 They can put a muzzle on my mouth or sedate me for all I care, but I’m still giving them a heads up right now to be fair. Having said this, they better brace themselves for my cyclical “daddy calling” as I won’t be stopping too soon. 🙂