Flashback to June 2, 2006: An Ode to My Father

In celebration of yesterday, which was father’s day, a re-post of one of my older pieces from 14 years ago, thinking about our relationship as father and daughter. Things have changed – I have grown older, less free-market and more government friendly now – and my thesis is but a distant memory. But my musings here still capture a lot of how I feel our relationship is.


June 2, 2006
I got up early to try to get some thesis related work done, only for my dad to drag me all the way to KL for some banking related activities – cue some father-daughter long overdue quality time. We don’t do this enough, me and my dad. All my life I’ve always wished our relationship was more like the one he has with my other siblings – jokey, funny, more affectionate. But sometimes we focus too much on the things we don’t have in a relationship, and we forget to savour the things that we already have going for us.

Drives to KL with my dad for some reason seem long and stretched. Perhaps its because he drives at the speed limit. Perhaps its because for the most part, we often sit in silence. Perhaps its because his presence intimidates me – yes, even at 28, I am still scared shitless of my dad. But it always takes a predictable pattern. By the time we reach the Sg Besi tolls, we would have started a semblance of a conversation. He spoke to me about my future plans, and in his tone I sensed nothing but approval. I couldn’t be more thankful. He may not know all and sundry about his firstborn, but I know he tries. Hard.

And by the time we start on the drive back, he would be in full swing delivering a lecture of some form. Today, the topic was Islam Hadhari. My old man is very much involved with progressive Islam, however you name it. Even before Pak Lah coined the term, he was already working towards the idea that Islam should be practised in all aspects of life, not just at the mosque. Different as we are when it comes to principles and ideals – I am a free trade economy; he is very much a government intervention man – we agreed very much on the importance of the knowledge culture in Malaysia. Pembudayaan ilmu, he called it.

We talked about politics. Walking the talk. And he impressed me with his knowledge on corporate social responsibility and corporate governance. A lifetime ago, he shoved a newspaper in my face ,while I protested that I hated politics and world affairs were too macro for my liking. He made me read everything anyway and said, it doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, what’s important is that you know.

I used to be quite offended when my mother likened me to him; now I know that in most respects, I am my father’s daughter. We have similar habits. Like having very very untidy desks. Or preparing the exact amount of toll money for whatever route we take even before the car has moved out of its parking spot.

My mum made the both of us do the grocery shopping this morning. That was quite a laugh – we are as hopeless as each other when it comes to affairs domestic. At least my dad knew where to find stuff in the supermarket.I miss Sainsbury’s and its predictable aisles.

originally published on Organised Chaos, June 2, 2006

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