Written By Jasmine Koh
It is late October. I am seven and barely 90 centimeters tall. You seem like a giant to me. I reach out to hold you and my tiny hands are engulfed by your smooth and strong palms.
It is late October and I am 17 years old. I close the door behind me while uttering a muffled goodbye, not bothering to wish you a good day as I used to before. You say a quick goodbye, too, typing away on your desktop on a Monday morning, neither of us trying to bridge the distance created in the span of 3,650 days. I leave and return to the same flat on the seventh floor every day, as if my home was a hotel. Your nagging and your silence have tired me out.
It is late October and I am 19. I have just attended the funeral of two of my peers’ fathers. I don’t know if I am thinking too much, but I am afraid of your passing, too. Someday, when you go, I don’t know how different life will be. How different I will be. They say that we only remember the presence of someone when they are no longer around.
Every now and then, I rest my eyes on your silhouette. Sometimes from behind the desktop screen, sometimes when you take a breather at the sofa. Looking at the white hairs and the spots surfacing on your skin, it dawns on me that you are ageing.
In the time I spent pestering you to bring me to the playground, catching movies after classes, starting my new part-time job, and entering university, you have gotten old. You still leave your unwashed mug on the table, shout at mum when she doesn’t turn off the switches, and nag me for coming home too late. But you are my dad—and no nagging or silence can ever change that.
It took me a long time to see you for who you are: a figure of strength, tenderness and silence all in one man. It took me many more years to realize what truly mattered to you—how meals together and taking heed of your words meant so much to you. You have worked tirelessly to raise us up. Although a man of few words, you are a man of fatherly love.
Thank you, Dad. You remind me that imperfect beings like us can still love in big and small ways. I don’t always say I love you, or Thank you, but you have truly played a big part in making me the person I am today.
Happy Father’s Day.