to dance with my father again

mom is in oz. i came home from my office around 9pm tonight to discover that my father had waited for me to go out to dinner. my sister has a sleepover tonight and my brother had gone to play futsal with friends.

my father, who is, with every fiber in his body, a true chinese, who eats dinner in a bowl everyday before maghrib and expects nothing less than perfection where using chopsticks are concerned, has not had dinner yet.

we drove to a nearby mamak stall where for the first time in many years, i share dinner with my father. mostly in silence.

we tried to ignitiate a little small talk. nothing much. how was work? who’s getting lunch tomorrow? an anecdote or two about my travels. always, we return to that awkward moment of silence.

out of my siblings, i share the most in common with my father. that’s according to everyone else in the family. we both enjoy the documentary and news channels. we both particularly enjoy films pertaining to space research. we are both star trek fans. we are both fans of vintage rock and roll. we are both fiercely quick tempered. we are both bookworms. we both enjoy mee suah soup. he taught me to play my first guitar.

to each other, however, we are people of little words. i bet he would not be able to answer if i asked him at this moment what my favourite colour is. or what my masters research is about. there are even moments when i am brought to believe that my father is kinda disappointed by how i turned out to be, entirely for his lack of knowledge and interest about me.

i realised tonight that maybe, just maybe, my father knows me better than anyone in the world, and that maybe, just maybe, he does not know this. or does he?

my father used to beat me. with anything he could get his hands on around the house. despite all the years that separated me from getting to know him, i don’t hate him for it. every now and then, i wished that he had beaten my brother and sister almost as much. a lot of crap would have been beaten about what they do sometimes.

tonight i learnt another thing my father and i have in common and that is we both love deeply the ‘one’. mom being in oz makes him lonely. mom has gone overseas many times before and everytime, my father’s temper would be just notorious, followed by extended spans of silence. i know that he tries hard to hide it, mostly by retreating to his study. i know he misses her. her presence.

i can’t talk to my father. we just, well, don’t talk. that is just something we don’t do. sometimes, weeks would go without my father and i saying anything to each other. it is not much the case that we don’t want to. i suppose it is more like we don’t need to. i know who he is. i am just like him.

sometime i think about how it would be if it were flipside. what if my father and i shared that in common? that talking father-daughter relationship? what if i were able to tell him what my problems are? what if he were more concerned about me?

i learnt tonight that i am in his thoughts as much as he is in mine. i don’t need his words to tell me so. in my own realm of silence that means a lot to me.


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