In Summary
  • Dad allows me a few minutes of private mourning before he engages us in one of his many fascinating, informative discussions.
  • Lesson: The darkest of nights always makes way for a new dawn.
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It’s a sunny mid morning on a Saturday in August in the 1980s. As usual, my dad has taken his brood of five children out– this time we’re visiting the communal playground adjacent to our estate.

There are other children at the playground and my siblings and I run towards the slide. We know enough to take turns and as I whoop with joy whizzing down the slide, my favourite white dress with the puffy sleeves catches on a warped corner of the slide; the resulting ripping sound representing my dignity.

By the time I reach the bottom of the slide, my dress is billowing behind like The Jolly Roger and my skinny body is on display for the amusement of the sniggering playground tenants.

GENTLE DAD

Calm as a breezeless day, dad steps up and gently gathers my torn dress around me. We leave the playground for home, and I am wondering what heinous crime I may have committed in a past life to deserve being landed with so intense an embarrassment.

Dad allows me a few minutes of private mourning before he engages us in one of his many fascinating, informative discussions. Lesson: The darkest of nights always makes way for a new dawn.

One cannot do a personality transplant on others and there will always be people who laugh at other’s misfortunes. Do not be one of them. 

Fast forward to the 90s: I’m a high school student in need of a school fees bankers’ cheque, hence my visit to the bank where my father holds a senior position.

He meets me at the entrance, introducing me to the uniformed security guard manning the gate. He tells me the man’s three names; asks after his ailing wife and new-born daughter.

I shake the man’s hand and try to pay attention as they exchange further pleasantries. My dad does the same thing for everyone we meet before we arrive at his office.

I collect my cheque and dad sees me off, insisting that I bid everyone goodbye. Lesson: If you are fortunate to hold an elevated position in life, don’t behave like a sadistic puppeteer yanking mercilessly at the strings of the hapless people you may hold sway over.

Everyone you meet in life is important - we simply begun our lives in different cots. Be considerate to everybody you meet.

EXTREME CASE OF EXCUSITIS

College days came for me and I failed an examination. The Catherine of that time convinced herself that the examiners had it in for her and set an exam which she was bound to fail, when the wisdom that comes with hindsight clearly shows that I did not revise my work as I should have.

Whilst still suffering from this extreme case of excusitis, I told my dad that perhaps that particular course was not for me.

He informed me that other courses would also present challenges, suggesting that I give the failed subjects another go.

Lesson: Failure is a part of everyday life, not your own personal apocalypse and, like Russian roulette; it is often your own deeds that cause you to encounter trouble.

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