Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Chinese Father

My siblings and I are working and living in KL. My parents still live by themselves in our hometown, Kuantan, 3 hour drive to the east. Dad had a minor stroke about 2 years ago. I noticed that he’s getting old, weak and frail this time around. We’ve been trying all sorts of tricks getting him to eat right and exercise. He is just not bother to do anything about it, at all. Tough to introduce a new lifestyle to an old frail man, even though it’s life saving.

It was in the afternoon of the Lunar New Year’s eve. We were busy cleaning and decorating the house when Dad came asking to change two hundred bucks, all into ten-buck note. He wanted them for ang pow, the red envelope filled with money that married couples give to the kids for good fortune during new year.

“It’s new year’s eve Dad. You should have told us earlier you want 10 buck notes for ang pow. C’mon Dad, you don’t expect us to have that much of tenners lying around.” My sister told Dad. “Here you go, I only have five of them.” She gave all the red 10-buck notes to Dad.

“I got three here.” I pull out mine from my wallet and handed it to Dad. “That should be enough right? After all you are just need eight of them for us kids and the twin grandsons. It’s just symbolic anyway.”

Stubborn as always, Dad picked up his cane and headed out into the heat of the afternoon. He was heading over to grandma’s place to get the change from my uncles. It didn’t occur to him that he’s being unreasonable and imposing. If they had it, they would need them for ang pow too. But how would they say no to their frail elder brother? We tried to stop him but Dad being Dad, he totally ignored us. That pissed both my sister and I off big time.

So when he handed out the ang pow after dinner that night, I just took it from him, and returned my focus on the TV.

Why now? As long as I can remember, he never gave us ang pow during new year. Why bothered with it now? I took a quick peek into the red packet, there were two red ones inside, 20 bucks. So what? Not that we need that extra money anyway. What was the point?

The point was Dad was trying to care. Though it was like 30 years late, he tried. I guess that’s the closest he came to express his love for us kids. That’s all great, still I couldn’t help but think that’s a little too late. We are all grown up now, and for me, I had long ago accepted the fact that my Dad is a typical Chinese dad, proud, stern, stubborn and emotionless.

I just wish Dad could let us take care of him now instead. Listen to us and eat well and exercise.

I just don’t know how to get this into him and that is mightyly frustrating.

1 comment:

SY, Miri said...

My mum and your dad are similar in a way. My siblings and I felt she neglected us when we were young. Now that she is more relaxed with all the children working already, she starts to care more about us. I did think it was a bit too late but soon I realise why she was the person she used to be. Now, she believes that time is not on her side anymore, it is time to do things she let go years ago. Like your dad, she would go the extra mile if she has to. She did for my sister and she will for the rest of her children. All she needs are softer and kinder hearts. And love from her children. Take care, friend.