Saturday, February 07, 2004

Happy Birthday, Abah!

[Reading his ‘Warga Emas’ birthday card.
On one of his previous birthdays, he got the card very early in the morning
– propped on the ‘throne’ in the bathroom and addressed to the ‘king’]

[A much, much younger dad]

Yesterday my dad turned that particular age where he could now qualify for all sorts of discounts– yeah, double five. Dad is now officially a senior citizen, a 'Warga Emas' - which was exactly how we addressed him on the birthday card.

Dad is the epitome of virtue in my life. He always stress upon being conscious of our conduct no matter what we are doing, whom we are with or where we are, to treat people with utmost respect and to be responsible for every decision we choose to make. Regardless whether he’s in the company of a good friend or a bitter adversary, approached by a Datuk or a beggar; I’ve never seen him, ever, being either less or more courteous to one rather than the other. I’ve seen him laugh, and I’ve seen him cry, but through the ups and downs in life, dad would not even dream of benefiting himself at the expense of others or acquiring something through anything but the proper means.

Dad lived the industrious life of a kampung boy during his childhood where he helped out with all sorts of work at his father’s orchard and sold fruits by the roadside from an early age. He is full of stories on how things were when he was a little boy, how different things were and how things that we take for granted today such as having a whole apple to oneself (usually one fruit would be shared among all the children – eight of them!) was a treasured, rare delight that come once in a while or had to be earned.

Dad worked hard to be where he is today, and he is still working today despite retiring from his post as a government servant two years ago – he loves to work! Even these days it is a norm for him to come home at eight or nine p.m. at least once a week. A meticulous and industrious person, he drives those who work with him to achieve a certain standard and would accept nothing below that. Slackers with the luck to end up working with him would never tahan, unless they change their attitude for the better.

When bro and me were younger, we depended on him for everything, and in our eyes, he knows the answer to every question, the solution to every puzzle, there is no fix that he can’t put right. As we grow older, our relationship with him also grows more mature. I am heartened by the changes that took place in our relationship with dad over time – it used to be only us asking for his opinion and whether he approve; now there are instances where he asks for our opinion, and whether we approve. It used to be only us telling him what’s wrong at school, now we all share with each other what happens at our workplaces and trade ideas over lunch or dinner.

Underneath his seemingly serious persona, Dad has a great sense of humor. He’s always ever ready with amusing twisted tales to explain things when we were little (usually ending up with us crying out Abah tipuuuuuuu when we ask Mom whether it’s true) and often come up with jokes and funny quips that would catch you when you least expect it.

I have a wonderful dad who made growing up so much fun, and would’ve given me the world if he could (but I’m sure he’d make me work for it first).

I love him so much.

Happy birthday, Abah.

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