“Make peace with your past so it wont disturb your present.”
– 7 Cardinals Rules for Life
They say there are 3 things that influence you the most, the society around you, your friends, and your family. I would have to say, the last one has the most influence throughout my life, not because I have a great one, but because the absence of one specific figure in my life.
I have been closer to poop in my pants on high school than i have ever been with my dad. Well, it is pretty hard to be close to someone you only meet once a week. it is not like I am putting the blame on him though, I am not that self-centered. He has his own activity that keeps him busy, and family. Yes, another family aside of mine. A family he made before mine, which of course he would prioritize.
Sunday was his day of choice. And that is mainly the reason why I hate Sunday, because it is the only day I have to meet him. Conversation gets dull when you are not even sure what to talk about, but usually it is the boring “how was school, how was church, how was life” topic. It’s not that I hate him, it is just that I dont like his way of thinking, which is:
He is never wrong.
If he is wrong, refer to first point.
In any circumtances, he would not admit that he is wrong. Well, frankly I got to say that he is a pretty great person, being in the parlement for a few dozen years and all, and I could say that this made him pretty big-headed. Another thing is that he always sees things as black and white, if you are not right, then you are wrong. Quite a conservative way of thinking I would say.
Nevertheless, I got accustomed to it. If the same thing has been going for 20 years, you would d too. As someone who grew up without his figure, I became someone with low self esteem, but other than that I am pretty much fine. I also treat female with great respect because, well, a female (kind of) single handedly raised me.
For a disclosed reason, my dad stopped coming since 4 years ago, around the end of 2012. Since then, Sunday is not that dreadful anymore. I get to enjoy Sunday as normal people would, doing my own activity and stuff. But the damage has been done, you are simply not the same as others when you grew up without a fatherly figure.
When he did not come up anymore, I was pretty sure that I would be just fine. I dont feel any coherent effect and things feel fine. But deep down, what I did not really notice, or pretending to not notice, was that i feel empty. I am not sure who I am, or where I am heading. I dont know what to aim, my goal, or even what i want to achieve.
If you are in your 20s and you do not know what you are aiming for in the future, question yourself what went wrong, because you cannot move forward if you do not know where to step. That is exactly my problem, and my bigger problem is that I did not notice it yet. It took its toll, I changed major in university when I was already in my 3rd year, which partly was my fault as well. Time wasted, but life goes on.
It was until I had this conversation with my friend that kind of opened my mind.
I was talking with my friend when he said he want to go to China to meet his family, to know what exactly happened before his family got separated, to know the whole story behind it. And then it struck me. I said to him that I have been fine living without a father and to not know the story behind it, which his reply was “But it is not fine at all, what you have been living through is your identity, and your identity is still partly missing without you knowing a part of your life”.
Thus, I concluded that by knowing my own identity, it could help me find out what my goal is. And so out of nowhere after 2 years of not meeting him, I decided to text my dad asking to meet up to talk about stuff that i been going through, but mainly about things that has been through.
One thing that I just noticed though, for someone that shares the same DNA with me, I have never had a quality talk with him, and the last quality time we spend had was the two of us was us playing soccer when I was still on elementary school. Yeah, my childhood was not that awesome when it comes to my making memories with him.
At this time, I was busy doing internship while he is busy as always with his job as a lecturer. So I set up a date with him, to meet up where it is in the middle of my place and his. The meeting place was an overpriced coffee shop at Senayan that I have been always fond of. No, the coffee is not that good, but I love the atmosphere and thought that it will help chill up the mood.
On the promised day, I took a day off and waited till noon after his class is finished before going to the coffee shop. As someone from the previous generation who appreciates time, I did not have to wait long before he came.
He did not change much over the year, but age has surely affected his appearance. He surely fought well with his no longer young body, looking quite fit and all. Many people gave up on physical exercise when their age reach 70, but he is certainly not one.
Conversation started a bit awkward but it began to flow just fine as time goes. One of the question that triggered was “How did you met mom?”. Turns out he met my mom when he was a lecturer and my mom being his student. Quite a womanizer I would say. That question also made me hear him admitting to his mistake for the first time in my life, while still being defensive in a way of course.
This meeting convinced me that he is a smart person after all. After all, he would not be where he is now if he is not. I got ticked off when he started comparing me with his children from his first wife, which studied in one of the most prestigious university in Jakarta, if not in Indonesia, and now living abroad, while I have not even finished my study.
When I said it is probably because I lack a father figure in my life, he said that it is not a reason. I was like, “wow are you for real?”. Sure, I’m not the typical role model student, and my appearance sure is not convincing for someone so orthodox (yes I am being judgemental and defensive as well) being all tatted up on my right arm. He did saw my tattoos on my wrist since a shirt cannot cover all my tats, and that was the first time he saw it. Quite surprising that his reaction was only “You drew your arm now?”.
That heated conversation did not end there. We also talked about why I fail, which he pointed out because I am not close to God, and that I do not go to church anymore. As a self proclaimed logical person, being religious is the last thing that matters when it comes to someone’s failure, and so the debate about me continues. From that debate, it is clear that his way of thinking still has not change one bit. If you are not right, then you are wrong, and I’m clearly in the wrong here.
No, it is not that he is fully wrong, but I was being defensive because I cannot stand being criticized by someone who will not admit his mistake. I was glad that he went to the restroom after a while so that I could regain my composure (maybe he went because he want to do the same thing).
I did not forget to ask that question I meant to ask from the start. “I do not know what to do next, what should I do? How to know what makes you happy?”, which his answer was pretty simple. Work hard, get rich. And from his answer, I knew why and what made him this way. He was raised from a not so rich family, and he worked his way to the top so he have the right to say that.
Success and happiness is measured by material by him, and from that answer, I knew that I am clearly his offspring because that pretty much sums the whole idea for me. I thought I was not like him, but his answer just depicted what was in my mind. I thought I was not that shallow, but I guess an apple does not fall far from the tree. It funny yet ironic to know that when you deny the truth for so long, you tend to get lost.
The rest of the time, it was filled with laughter, nostalgic moments, and new things that I did not know yet. It is funny though, I never thought of him as someone humorous, turns out I was the one being so close minded that I cannot see the real him.
One thing for sure though, none of the minutes went to waste. He opened up, and so did I, and the walls between us crumbled.
For the first time in my life, it felt like father and son. And maybe, or so I hope, that the our next meeting will not be as long.
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