Thursday, August 03, 2006

to err

when i was little, i thought my father was a God. he single-handedly lifted his family out of the mire of poverty. my grandmother, aunts and uncles used to pretty much worship the ground he walked on. it's perfectly understandable - he was and still is the "smart one" who could be trusted to make the right decisions all the time. it made sense to put him on a pedestal and see him as everything above human.

my father is now 63. he still puts on a shirt and a tie everyday to work a 9-to-5 job that will pay for the many many years i have left as a student. for all the warmth he has shown other people by going out of his way to help them (there would be too many examples to fit in here), i have never really blamed him for being cold at home, especially towards my sister and me, because i know beyond a doubt that he loves us very much.

i guess it was when i first cried over his absentee father ways that i first saw my father as a human being. before, it was impossible for him to make mistakes; not only because i have never heard him apologise to anyone but also because he was so respected by my family and my extended family.

a couple of years before that, i opened a drawer in my parents' bedroom and found a stash of stuff that should not be there. my mother was in the room at the moment and she rushed over to me, making excuses like, "oh those were gifts from your father's colleagues. they're just being cheeky."

at the time, i believed her. or rather, i wanted so badly to believe her because i still thought of my father as more than a human being. he was someone who could do no wrong and indulge in no vices. after all, he doesn't gamble, he doesn't smoke and, after a liver cirrhosis scare 10 years ago, he doesn't even drink much anymore. all he does is get up in the morning, go for a morning walk hand-in-hand with my mother, get dressed for work, go to work, come home for dinner and go to bed at 9pm every night.

anyway, i ignored that incident. then came that time when i finally saw my father as a human being - because i realised that fathers are not supposed to be absent in their daughters' lives - and hence is allowed to make mistakes.

then came last night. i was playing with my father's phone and i took a picture of my mother with the 2.0MP camera (bah). i looked through the folders to see if i could change the alignment and put it as the phone wallpaper and there, in the folders, were pictures that should not be there; pictures that were obviously taken from a laptop.

it reminded me of that day, several years ago, when i found what should not be there in my parents' bedroom. it's only now that i know that they were meant to be there because they were a part of my father's life. i have found the vice that haunts him and makes him no more than a human being just like you and me.

i'm 21 now. i should know better than to keep believing that my parents are flawless beings who don't err and are hence not human. but i do like the idea that my family is a "good" one. a boring one, but a good one nonetheless. i am always ashamed of making mistakes because i believe that everytime i do something wrong, i am smudging ink on the white cloth that is my family.

it is a relief to know that even my father, who can do no wrong, does indeed find himself cornered by the devil in the same position we find ourselves sometimes. it's a relief to know that he makes mistakes, although trying to forget about it and not become a hypocrite by condemning him for it is a totally different matter altogether.

but i'm trying.


*note: i'm off to the little red dot for the weekend, just to catch up with friends and maybe even finally visit all the lovely museums i never visited during my two years there. am looking forward to having a bit of fun. see you on monday! =)

lishun at 8:07 AM