On my Father(to be rewritten)
Ode to my Father
In my country, and I guess the same goes for many other places as well, having a prestigious family background is a big thing; it carries a lot of weight. Growing up, I’ve always been quite awed by those whose parents were societal bigwigs - politicians, celebrities, old rich. I used to be somewhat shy about coming from humble beginnings, especially on my father’s side. My grandfather was, well, a farmer. An adopted half-Chinese-whom my grandmother married against her family’s better intentions.
Growing up with a family name that hardly anyone recognized, my patronage was something that didn’t play a big role in the shaping of my identity, or so I thought, as opposed to those who “have to live up to their ancestors’ names” (very much like one of our presidential hopefuls). It was only as I grew up, hearing stories from my father’s brothers and sisters every now and then, that a new image of my father was shaped, until the day I was able to not come to terms with, but fathom the greatness of my lineage.
The greatness of my lineage has nothing to do with blood. It has nothing to do with family trees, or boundless wealth, or scientific genius (except, maybe for my mother, but that’s another story). The greatness of my lineage is in a simple boy woken up at five in the morning by his disciplinarian of a father. Five in the morning because he has to go to the river to harvest the kang kong to be sold in the morning market, not to be late lest his business go to others. The greatness of my lineage is in a young man who dared to tell his father, “I don’t want to be a farmer, I want to be a lawyer.” “But we have no money to send you to school,” his father said. “I do,” his mother said quietly, his mother who believed in her son, his mother who recognized that he was meant for greater things. The greatness of my lineage is in a working student, at midnight, reading under the lamplight outside his tiny apartment, pricking his callouses with a needle lest he fall asleep on his Supreme Court annotations. Lest he waste his precious tuition, earned through blood and sweat. Lest he prove his father right. Lest he prove his mother wrong. The greatness of my lineage is in a man on a podium, finally a graduate, with his father beside him with tears in his eyes, for never could he have believed, not once, that his son would become a lawyer. The greatness of my lineage is in a full grown man who, little known to his daughters, has been waging a decades-long war against powerful land-grabbers in his southern homeland, protecting his father’s land like he never could have had, had he not left the selfsame land.
If there was something to be ashamed of, it was my concept of greatness to begin with.