Fading and Old Stories…. About My Dad.
I grew up believing that my father was a great man.
I heard the stories many times. He was appointed as a director on a very huge company at the age of 22 (which I am a year away from that age) and surpassed every expectation laid on him ever since. I’d heard about stories how he turned a nearly bankrupt companies into a money making one. He’d say “When I came, the chair was made by cheap woods. When I left? It was made of gold!”
Way before that, he’d brag about the stories of his past. Like how when he was a 10 years old, his hand got stepped by a cow and he didn’t cry. Or, how he stunned hundreds of academicians with one simple critical question during a national seminar. Or, how he win a woman’s heart while it was already belonged to someone else (the woman was my mom).
Growing up listening to these stories makes me feel like I’m a living under the shadow of unearthly man. Like, a great expectation was held against my shoulder. I even make him as excuses of my failure, sometimes. “I am not you, dad!” I would say. But, I can always see he was proud of me. He always tried to show me he does.
But, I got older, I got bolder. I no longer making my excuses. I was out there making my own stories. My eyes was sanguine. Nothing could bring me down at that moment. I felt like I was invincible.
At the same time, he got older. His pace got slower. His stories faded, untold for a long time.
Last 2014, we got in a very hard situation. Probably the first time ever. We got zero income for almost a year. When I asked my dad, his answer sounded like he was giving up. He’d say about how tired he was. How he is not that kind of man anymore.
This situation force me to start making living of my own. I stayed up late working on projects to earn money. That’s how I survived that long year. When the money not coming, I would eat instant noodles 3 times a day. Sometimes, only twice. Sometimes, with no eggs at all. There was even a moment my mom asked me do I still have money left. The question broke me to pieces because I don’t want to tell her how bad it was for me. I nodded, but she knows exactly what I meant. All the while I keep asking why is this happening.
This particular situation changes everything. I believed, my father “was” a great man. But, there’s another thing. I manage to stand up on my feet. But, no matter how many things I have achieved, my father can’t seemed to be proud of me. Not like he used to. why? This one hurts more.
It felt like, everything I believe about him and how he sees me, was all in the past.
Then, one morning, he called. He said it was urgent that I had to book a flight as soon as possible to this small city across the country. So, I did.
When I got there, he explained about how he’s going to participate on this huge project. He told me, “Starting tonight, we will be sleepless. We’re going to win this.” When he explained more about the project and I can sense how the probability of us winning is very low. We are a newcomer on this industry. The odd was not in our favor.
I won’t write about the story how we beat the odd and win this tender, because we didn’t. We are steps back from the first time I stepped foot in this town. But, spending 7 days with my dad is one experience I will always cherish forever.
This is the first time I saw my dad so determined. He did everything he needed to do. All the phone calls, meetings, and late night brainstorming. But, one night he said to me “you know, everything we were doing doesn’t really matter. In the end, fate will play its part. But no worry, there’s no such thing as a waste of work. Have faith”. That’s my dad. That is always my dad. Putting his faith in God above everything and believed in God plans.
Another morning, I woke up surprised. The whole bed was trembling. I realized my dad was freezing to death. He shivers. When I asked what’s happening, he said “I took wudhu, and it’s cold got to me!” I was scared because he suffered like a helpless little child. He then said, “You finished that document I told you to do, last night?” I nodded, “Great, go pray subhu, we’ll review it. We got an early meeting to catch on.”
During our time in this small town, we met this former associate of my dad. He offers his house to stay in, delivers foods, and he even let my father use his car for a whole month. One day, my dad hit his car on this pole. When I returned his car, I said “Thank you, sir. Sorry, we broke your car.” He then turned to me held my shoulder, “You see, a long time ago, I worked for your father. I work for him for many years. This mark on my car is nothing compared to the blessing that I had worked for him. Believe me, I would do anything to repay your father. It’s alright.”
I barely sleep later that night thinking about what he said and how I already forgot all those great stories about my father. What he said made the stories real.
By the time we got the news that the tender was forced into a delay, I booked a flight back the next day. That night, we took a ride around the town. He wanted to show me the whole city before I got back. That very night was very special.
He told me stories, again. But, this time, the stories more subtle than they used to.
He told me the stories about why he left the company he helped built to start his own, why he failed so many time after that, and why we got on this situation. After that, he told me the stories about him and my mother, about my sisters, my little brother, and me. Then, after a long time, he told me he stories about his great past.
I listened to him, like a little boy listening to a fairy tale.
After that, we discussed about the project. The project wasn’t actually the only thing we’ve been working on. During one week I was there, another options came up. We were currently pursuing multiple goals. My dad got options which he keeps open. After discussing about that goals, I then asked “What if you got all of them? Or, maybe just two of them? All of them so big that there’s no way you could manage them all.”
His answer was the words I’ve been missing the most. Dearly.
“I got you, right, Son?”
As soon as I got in the plane, I relieved the whole week. And, there’s a moment I choked on my own breath and my eyes turned watery. I can’t believe I doubted my dad. I can’t believe there’s a moment in my life I believed he was weak. I can’t believe I blamed him. I can’t believe I almost hated him.
I’m a half man that my dad was and I don’t care the fact that I might always will be. I don’t care if I couldn’t be as great as he ever was. All I care, I need only one approval to make me believe in me. His.
The thing that was once in the past returned to the present once more.
Thanks dad. Glad I have you.