Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Father's Day

Yesterday on the 19th June 2005; a Father's Day, I got an SMS greeting from my daughter. It was a grateful message thanking me for everything, whatever that means to her. I was away from home on official trip, so there was no way of getting together and jale-jale cari makan. The kind words were so soothing and I replied something like this;

'Being a father is a responsibility and an amanah (thrust). Sometimes we have to be harsh to be kind. If appreciated, there is no word to describe the feeling'

Fatherhood...... Fatherhood is a largely ungrateful task. Sometimes I lament at the `unrewarding' task of being a father compared to being a mother. A mother is a much adored and celebrated task. Songs and praises were made regarding a mother's sacrifice, selfless duty and eternal love. It's true, and we are not against it one single bit. If the children respected and love the mother, then we the fathers are so shows that we have done our duty in educating them to be good children. Duty, yes, duty, always duty. That is a father's driving force.

A father could overcome his worst fear and work even as grave digger in the name of duty in raising the family and catering for the family's need. He would shelve his ego and work even as a lowly sewage disposal general worker to support the family. He would brave the sun, rain and fear of height working on high rise building construction site even where safety is barely taken care of. He is able to do all this for the sake of the family, all in the name of duty.

An elderly mother is adored and surrounded by her grandchildren. Each will take her hand and persuade her to stay at his or her place. Her sons and daughters will seek her help to look after the grandchildren or just to love her. But a father ..... he is slowly disregarded and at last spend his time at Kedai Kopi (coffee shop); championing certain topics of debate as if it matters so much when actually all he needed is some attention from the children or grandchildren that is non-existant ....or just made cursorily out of `adat' or responsibility.

A father's worth is soon forgotten after the children manage to stand on their own feet. And he is so proud of them if they have made it in the world. He was king of the house when he provided for the family. Everyone need to seek his permission for most things, especially if it concerns money and it normally does in this world; everything have a price. Soon that passes and he slowly realises that his words are no longer law in his household. One by one his laws and boundary is broken and his grip slowly diminishes. He is no longer king.....

The pride has grown and the lion king is soon to be displaced. Either he bowed down gracefully or be pulled down unceremoniously. So he slowly withdraws and finds solace at Kedai Kopi where he feels needed as long as he can pay for the coffee. We see this everywhere. One who was once so busy, or proud, and never have time to linger at Kedai Kopi in the end attained lifetime membership there.

That is what being a father is all about..... The unsung hero.... The discarded king ..... The forgotten provider.... while the mother was being surrounded by the grandchildren, respected and needed.

A Father's Day made me realise that a father is all about sacrifice and we do it so willingly because it is in our bone; the drive to provide as long as we are needed. When the need is gone, what will happen? We will be gone too, like a discarded old rag at the corner of the house.......

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