The 22nd of October is one of the most important dates on my calendar, but this year I didn't put it on the calendar (I don't have one) and therefore promptly proceeded to forget its significance. As it is, on the very day fifty-one years ago, a great man came into the world, without whom I would never have walked the face of the earth. I am referring, of course, to my father.
A truly important person in my life, he never failed to be there when I needed him. In fact, I could never finish writing (or in this case typing) about all that he taught me. He literally made me who I am and was a key factor in getting me where I am today.
I remember being proud of him for as long as I could remember... Although there was a stage at which I did not like being seen with him, as a whole, I was proud to have such a father. Although there were things he did which I did not agree with and caused me pain, I would never exchange my father for any other. Never would I wish for a different set of parents.
When I was little, he apparently spent a great deal of time with me. Taking me to see aeroplanes taking off from the airport, singing to me... And he read to me... Which was how my English became what it is now. He told me how I would be attentive and responsive to what he was teaching me, and I could not believe that I was so compliant. Yes, he punished me severely once and only once in my childhood, and I have never received any punishment at home ever since.
As I grew, I loved to please him with what I did. I valued his praise and his opinion. And I loved to talk to him... To hear him speak and to learn from his words. His interests became mine, many of which, especially music, remain with me to this day. And I would cry if I felt he was displeased with what I had done, or if he was absent from home too long and I missed him.
As the eldest, there were many things which I was expected to understand, even though I did not. I was told many things that I did not want to hear, yet I did not contradict him. I could not.
However, there are so many wonderful memories. He is my greatest advisor and my best friend. He made me have faith in my own beliefs and always encouraged me to do what we both believed was best for me. He always knew best, in short, and I agreed with him. He introduced me to the world of music and badminton. He taught me to cook. He encouraged me to sharpen my mind and to love learning. He made sure I ate 3 full meals and slept 8 hours a day. He helped me draw my first mind map and write my first essay. My entire training in badminton was based solely on his one sentence: "Never let your eyes leave the shuttlecock."
He was with me every time I made an important decision. I would never do anything until I was sure that I had his permission/approval. The ASEAN scholarship, JPA scholarship, coming to England, medicine... Half of the decision was mine; the other half, his.
In terms of character and principles, he seemed so perfect. I can hardly find a flaw in his beliefs, which is probably why he is still my greatest role model. Everyone looked up to him, and he was feared at work. Lazy members of staff feared him for they knew he was strict. Yet he was always fair, just and responsible.... too responsible.
I would be counting myself fortunate to become half the character he is, yet I can hear him telling me that I must never take the easy way out, never lose out on a chance to improve myself beyond my own imagination. To only settle for becoming half as good as him would be an insult. He would want his children to realise their full potential, to be a balanced, morally upright individual, to be a lifelong learner just as he had been.
I know, as I write this with tears flowing down my face, I am living his dream, reliving his life, studying in the same country that educated him, savoring the joy of learning and the taste of knowledge. We both know that life is not easy, and we both know that we can make ourselves better than we were before, as long as we want to. We both know the importance of our family, we would both make sacrifices for them. We both know the work that God is doing in us and for us every day of our lives. We can also see all the beautiful things in the world around us and cherish them, things that are small but magnificent, the handiwork of our great Creator, who created all those things and us as well.
A very happy birthday, old man.... I thank you, and God, that I came into this world through you. I am proud to have your blood running through my veins and arteries, and I am proud to call you my father and to say that I love you.