I'm kidding … about the boys, but not the gun. The game were aplenty in those days, back when some of them weren’t protected species. Squirrels, wild boars, foxes, eagles, lynxes, monitor lizards, pythons, and many more wild game have felt the wrath of the shotgun. Father was a great hunter, still is, although he has retired from the sport for years now. These days the shotgun gets rusty from lack of attention, although not broken but is now kept safe somewhere in his treasure trove.
Back in the 80s... Off hunting. Simunjan.
Oh don’t worry. He has a license for that gun.
But truthfully, he didn’t need a gun to hold off those boys. He is ever the gentleman but there’s something about him that demands a quiet respect. With just one straight look in the eye and a silent composure, any faint-hearted boy would go speechless. I have seen that happened before and well, it was kind of funny really. My sister’s boyfriend didn’t stand a chance. Ha.
Father is a gifted writer. In fact – and I hope I am not bragging – I inherited my writing flair from him. I believe those two times I won the public essay competition awards back in my studying days, he was secretly pleased. I do still hope that. Now, IF ONLY DADDY HAD A BLOG, that would definitely be stuffs the publishers would die to get their hands on.
*Yes I initially wanted to write about “If daddy had a blog”, but then again I had no idea of an introduction … nevertheless, I’m getting there now.*
Did I tell you he once had his writing published in a book? The book was a compilation of tall stories, myths and legends surrounding the Bidayuh community. Written in English, and published by the Swallow Publication (if I remember correctly). I read the book when I was 10. Dad's story was entitled "The Man From The Seven Hills." A story about a boy who went to hide on the seven hills, besieged by his father's murderer, grew up and trained alone, kept a bamboo whistle to scare his enemies, and eventually avenged his father's murder. It was a little dark but it was a brilliant story nevertheless.
On the other hand, he can be really unpredictable. Like that day when I brought this young man – who is now my fiancé -- home for the first time, I intercepted him on his way out the door and whispered “Daddy, that’s my boyfriend.” It was an in-your-face no-holds-barred no-time-to-rethink devil-may-care kind of ‘Surprise!’ moment because I didn’t know how else to tell him. Then I braced for that fact to sink in.
Less than 5 seconds and the surprise were actually on me! He didn’t blink an eye, but went straight to the guy. Father shook his hand with a laugh and said “Hello.” In my head, I went, “Wait dad, you’re not going to subject him to at least 5 must-answer-correctly subjective questions?” But in my heart, the whisper was a soft “Thank you Lord that THAT went well.”
And charming? Oh yes, father can be really sweet and indulging when he wants to. To his wife, to his children, to his relatives, to his friends and acquaintances, to his students, to his congregations. Was he ever strict? When the situation calls for it. Especially in bringing up his children, and where the Word of God is concerned.
Uneasily swayed? Well to put it simply, father is a man of principle. When he says No, it’s a No until the end. Humble? This man will never brag about his achievement. You would only hear them from other people. He prefers the company of the underdogs than those in high places. Conventional? ... is waaaay better than modern dads these days. Father most of the time spared the child and spoiled the rod.
Faithful? Oh yes. His holy union to mother has now lasted three generations. How did they do it? My observation says it’s thanks to mutual respect and love, sharing the burden, no secrets, keeping the sacredness of the marriage behind closed doors, and the belief that the couple who pray together stay together. A blessed union until the end.
The parents. Sharing this personal pic of vintage love everlasting...
Father was a teacher by occupation. It paid the bills, put money on the table, and clothed us all. But perhaps that wasn’t his real calling. He left the profession to become a Pastor when I was just 6 years old. There were struggles in the beginning for everybody especially the adults, but eventually we all settled in and settled down back home, where our roots were. His firm belief was the promise of the Word that “My God will supply” and “Your grace is sufficient for me”.
Well you know his faith and belief actually worked. He put us all through school and a lot more with his Pastor’s wage. It wasn’t big, it wasn’t meager either. It was just enough. He even managed to send me to university and look at where I am today. How awesome is that?
If he were to write an autobiography now, I’d say the main concern he would have is whether he did everything correct and accordingly in his life. I would gladly answer he did a lot of things right. With all his children. Whether or not any of us stray from his teaching onwards would be on our own heads.
Soon I will be the most blessed girl to have my father walk me down the aisle. Just like a mother, a father knows in his heart that the day would come when he would let go of his children one by one. Just as I know in my heart he prayed and continues to pray on every eventful day when he would deliver each of his daughters to the rightful outstretched hand of the young man who would take her home.
A firm believer in forehead kisses...
You got to love a man like that.
He turned 73 this year, but in my eyes he looks like he’s only 55. His hair is slowly turning all gray now too but he is still my pillar of strength. I may not be able to linger around much in his presence once I cleave to my husband, but I will still be his little girl. Even writing this now makes me all emotional. Some love and sacrifices are really priceless and no amount of repayment will ever be enough.
This one is for you father. I hope I make you proud.
COUNTDOWN TO THE BIG DAY Pt 2
Next: The untold story ...