"I knew your father"
We looked at the time in indifference. It was already 9pm, and the eggs were getting cold. That's possibly the seventh pot we cooked that night. Sister was really hungry, my brother and I looked at each other, trying to telepathically send a message that chances are for the rice to get burned this time again, is equally the same with the previous six times.
His head popped up from the door with the pot this time, and a huge grin. "Ok we can eat now!" He planted the pot down on the table, and we stood up, looked in and to our shock it really didn't get burned another time. It became porridge instead.
I looked at him. And he looked at us, trying not to look sorry, trying not to make it any more sombre. When he's in charged, we eat the strangest of things. Durian with rice. Dried pork with rice. Dried pork with Sprite. Coffee with rice. Strangest of things. And each and everytime we had to try out these "old school unusual dinners", he would give us a long history about the food. He has always been amazing with story telling, we're always fascinated with his stories, real or not he was like a walking storybook. I'm beginning to think that that could particularly instill some sort of adventurous trait in us. And that things were never dull when he's around. That said, he was always trying. And most importantly, he told us not to complain.
I've been thinking a lot about him lately. Partially because whenever I introduce myself to almost all the local media big guns here in KK, they would look at my name card, analyze my face, put my business card down, relieve a sigh, and finally let out a smile and said, "I knew your father".
He was a salesman, an economist, a public figure, a good friend, a trustworthy partner, a good brother, an exceptional leader and the list is infinite. Every single veteran in the industry that I met, have different words and different stories to describe him and their previous endeavors together. Funny, intelligent, kind. This list too, is endless. And everytime they look at me with recognition that I'm a product of him, I could almost feel their emotions when they're around my dad being transferred to me. It was almost they too developed a sense of pride for me. The good, the bad, the trying, the challenges. Some even had sparkle in their eyes, giving only a second to tears. That's what he could do. He had the ability to get people talking about him. And most importantly remember him.
"Your dad used to be a sales manager here. That was at least 30 - 35 years ago. He was intelligent, charismatic, hardworking. Everyone loved him."
I used to wonder what it would feel like to be inspired by him even when he's gone. And now I do. In the strangest of ways, I am inspired so much of the stories that people have shared to me about him. I chuckle everytime I think about him. I couldn't see him as how they see him.
He was always the funny man.
"I will buy one of this watch from you, if you walk a whole round of the food court and manage to sell it to at least one person, then and only then I will buy one from you. No you know what, make that two" He would make the 'watches sellers' do exactly that. And though most of the time, he ended up leaving the place before actually knowing whether the sellers sold any, sometimes, he would wait and keep his promises. The sellers would come back to him, show the fresh money and said "I sold two, so you buy four". He grinned, and took his wallet out in acknowledgement. Pat the sellers' shoulder and said, good for you.
Dad had a hard life as a kid. He walked for hours just to go to school, and walked a couple more hours to get back. If he's lucky, he get to bike. He would finish his homework with just candlelight to help him, and stack with his siblings on the floor to sleep. He worked as rubber tapper to help his family. But year in, and year out he would excel in his studies with flying colours. Studies and books were his thing. He continued his studies to high school, with best of grades, and was fully sponsored by the Government to Australia. While life was the hardest in Australia, racism, financial issues - all stories that shared to us were altered and explained carefully what all of that meant to him. And how it should mean to us.
He never had it easy.
I've always wondered why God wanted to take his life, on that same year he was appointed to be the country's Senator. After all that years of struggle. He was finally getting recognised for all the things he fought for. And God, with the strangest of idea, took his life that very year leaving him almost no room to enjoy what he had been fighting for.
It's amazing how inspired people are by him. Thank you for the remarkable stories.
I will make him proud :)
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.