International Student

Appa: My Dad

This is about one of the most important people in my life. He might not have been the kindest soul in the world but he has influenced so many aspects of my life. He is my motivator and has set a high standard for the kind of guy I want in my life. Not because ‘I want a guy who loves me like my dad’, but more because he has some qualities I never want my guy to have. My mother deserves an applause for putting up with him for the last 36 years and he might not have been the best husband but he is the best dad I could ask for. I choose to think my presence has made him a better person. Need I say more, I am the youngest in my family, even among my cousins. I had a way of using my brightest, innocent looking smile to get away from all the mistakes I made when I was young. My siblings hated me for that and often used me as a shield from my dad.

Now, will you join me on a short trip down the memory lane?

My dad loves sharing his food with me, even as a toddler. He used to feed me while I sat on the dining table, all ready for my kindergarten. He accidentally fed me a fishbone once and it got stuck in my throat. Ow! Yes, it hurt like hell and I didn’t even want to swallow my saliva ☹ I tried all kinds of ways but it didn’t dislodge until a couple of days after. Needless to say, I have stuck to fish fillets since then and refuse to eat fish with tiny bones.

I remember that my dad always met with accidents when I was young and he would walk me to my kindergarten across the field on crutches. When I went to school, my dad would drop me off for the school bus in the mornings and then in the afternoons he would wait at the bus stop for my return. This is a fond memory and it makes me smile ear to ear while typing this out.

When I was 12 and got the results of the first public examination I sat, my dad came to bring me home from school. My dad coming in to bring me home is a rare occurrence and we have always relied on the school bus. So, he came, I saw him and I cried. I’m not the brightest bulb in the box but I scored all right for that exam. Yet I felt like I would have disappointed him. My dad being the coolest, he brought me over to the supermarket and got ice cream to celebrate my success. I even remember when I got ‘G’ for my Additional Maths in high school, he always joked about G indicating ‘good’ rather than the original meaning ‘gagal’ (which means ‘fail!’ in Malay). He made me realise that grades aren’t everything in life.

Even though he was only a high school leaver, he never failed to amaze me with his excellent English proficiency. He would randomly come up with bombastic words in sentences, leaving me puzzled about the meaning. I am definitely much prouder of him than he ever was of me. He also loves singing old songs and I would join him for regular karaoke sessions at home. Thanks to him, now I have my own playlist of old songs. He taught me how to drive confidently and ensured I never gave way to more than one car at once. Hey! That’s a real struggle on the roads. You gotta have strong principles in life, mate 😃. He rarely undermines my voice and listens to my stories from school and work attentively. When he offers his opinion, it makes me happy that he is indeed listening to me.

When I was 16, I went out with my mum and sister on a bus. I got laughed at when I told off a school student for throwing rubbish in the bus. I was deeply hurt and came home to share the incident with my dad. I told my dad that I was embarrassed people laughed at me. He is actually awesome because he introduced the term ‘social responsibility’ to me. He said ‘it is not something to be embarrassed about, people who laughed at you are just ignorant’. He assured me that I did the right thing and should never be embarrassed for doing the right thing. Just because everyone is doing it, it isn’t the right thing, he said.

Cool, right? Yes, that’s my Appa!

As I grew up into adulthood, I talked about boys with him. He was cool about my first relationship, or maybe he knew it was not gonna last longer than a couple of months. Must have been one of those fatherly instincts moments. He always told me I am a woman of my own talent and skills. I should never rely on my beauty or a guy to feed me for the rest of my life. He emphasised that success is measured by someone’s character, not money, looks or career. He always instilled a sense of independence in me but still wanted me to know that I had him for support when needed. Most times, knowing I had his support made me achieve a lot of things in life. I never once felt the need to have another guy’s love but my dad’s.

He is my hero and we will always share a love-hate relationship because of our honesty, We are always telling each other off for the things we get wrong!

Miss. Leo-gal

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