My dad has worked at the same place all his life.
He could have been an adventurer, a swashbuckling debonair gentleman, an international businessman, a scientist, an astrophysicist, a lecturer, a human rights activist, a Nobel price winner, and judging from his jungle-mapping work days, a Bear Grylls even.
In return, he settled for a quiet life as geological assistant while he passed on his thirst for knowledge and wonder for discovery to us, his children.
I didn’t come from a well-to-do family. My father was the only breadwinner but he worked all his life to make sure we have enough. We always have the best home-cooked meals — my mom’s cooking is testament of the number of friends I have crashing at our house. And not casual snacks either. My mom used to bake breads for breakfast and make her own curry puffs for tea.
There are 5 of us kids, so everytime school is about to start, my father set aside a huge chunk of his meagre salary so we could all go to town, buying new Bata shoes, Staedtler coloring set and army-grade canvas bagpacks.
He saved his money and bought us computers — full spec if he could afford it — while he rides his old bike to work everyday for the past 40 years. Other kids’ fathers drive fancy cars. My father sent me to school all the way till Form 5 on his kapcai. Because he’s always saving for us, he buys the cheapest thing with the most value he could get away with. He frowns at my mom’s Vision cookware fetish, but would happily sneak in his last money for us to upgrade our computer or buy yet another expensive textbook. You see, he had his priorities mapped out early.
My earliest childhood memory was me dreading my first dentist visit, and him promising me we could go to to buy books right after. Not candies, not dolls. Books. In my family, I was taught that girls are equally important as boys. I’ve always been my father’s girl and therefore I am destined for great things.
He often said he doesn’t have wealth to bestow to us, but by God he will give us education. To him, education opens up the world for us. A world he didn’t have access to. Education is sacred.
That and the family-treasured pastime of always be playing video games.
I had my first x386 when I was 12 for acing my UPSR - that gift to me is bigger than getting my degree. I waited 3 months for that bad boy to arrive. We all (him included) abused that computer with so much video gaming that it overheats every few days. Gosh did we push 8-bit gaming boundaries with that machine. We spacebar-ed so many fake walls in Wolfeinstein 3D, skinned our imaginary knees making the laps in bike races, got eaten by dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Bomberman was his favourite. He didn’t just bomb the balloon ghosts. He annihilates them.
When he was admitted to a hospital right after his heart attack in 2012, we smuggled his laptop into the cardiac unit. He was feeling fine, energetic in fact, after meds and he was bored. Sometimes he would take the week off from work and come to Langkawi to chill and play games — I call it the Hakims’ Gaming Lockdown. The picture above was him giving Call of Duty: Black Ops a test run on Dov’s rig.
So Papa. I could never hope to repay even a tiny bit you have done for me, Iwan, Mi, Don and Ayot. But I hope in our own small ways, we have made you a happy and proud father. Happy Father’s Day!
(p/s: COD: Advanced Warfare incoming. Gear up, papa gator!)