I wrote about my mom last year.
It’s my dad’s turn on Father’s Day this year! (Here's dad with Dee in December)
As I am different from my mom, I am genetically mostly my father’s girl.
I inherited his dark colouring, his dry skin, his eczema, his slippery spider-webby hair, his knobbly hands and long feet, his buttress-root neck, his overall skinny-ness, his nose and his quick temperament.
A temperament so quick that we tend to mutually miff each other. So we don’t talk much.
Regardless, my father was an exciting father to have. If my mother is water, he’s the fire of the family. I remember learning lots of swear words sitting in the back seat of the car, which dad would eject with relish accompanied by lots of hand action.
Then there was the time we banged on opposite sides of a locked door, primary-school-age me inside flinging pillows around in a rage and furious father outside, furious that his wilful daughter dared to throw an unbecoming tantrum.
More importantly, however, my dad was exciting because of all the “first-times” that I associate with him.
* The first time I ate spaghetti bolognaise was in a dark pub-like restaurant near his Shaw Centre office, a place he brought me to for lunch after school one day and apart from enjoying the very grown-up heavy silver cutlery and having an “adult” lunch, I have had an enduring love for the pasta dish, done exactly the way I had it 25 years ago with a salty (with not a hint of sweetness) beef sauce.
* The first time my dad bought and threw me a copy of Agatha Christie’s “The Man in a Brown Suit” when I was seven or so saying it was a “good book”, I hung on to it until I finally managed to comprehend the book a good many years later, and since then I have been a fan of the dame.
* The first time I typed my own original story was when I was seven, in my dad’s Shaw Centre office, a swanky glass-walled spacious expanse with killer views of Orchard Road, where I used to hang out after school. Left with nothing to do as he played mahjong with the secretaries, I would roll a sheet of paper into the clackety machines and type away. What wouldn’t I give to have a copy of those first stories I wrote!
* The first time I got an inkling of the importance of not speaking Singlish was when my dad spent a fortune buying a set of “Speak English like the British” cassette tapes which I had to listen to and parrot diligently. Even now, I remember entire conversations revolving around smoking cigarettes and the Heathrow Airport.
* The first time I realized it was a big world out there was when my dad bought set after set of encyclopaedias for us (actually me because my brother never bothered with them), from Childcraft to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and I read every word on every page.
* The first time I swam was with my dad (mom can’t swim) and the first time I got on a bicycle was under the guidance of my dad (mom can’t cycle).
Clearly, very much of who I am, nature or nurture, has been shaped by my father. And I can’t be more grateful.