I was inclined to swallow the idea that he is not a part of my life. For in my raucous suckling years I haven’t felt his presence, and the gap that he’s supposed to fill up was satiated by someone else. According to urban legends, he had never picked me up to feel my delicate cartilage, fearing that he’d crush me like a watermelon. And this story he has actually confirmed just recently when we got to bring a kid to a posh hospital in Alabang, and he was smiling when he retold that bit of history. Then my glorious years as a kid went on to haunt me, and I couldn’t help but contemplate my first sentence in this paragraph.
He used to work in a far-flung place away from direct contact with his immediate family. During these godawful years I didn’t care much about him, much less his identity. The only thing I would normally spit on is the fact that I get benefits, material benefits from him. Depending on your definition of spoiled brat, I must say that I was those icky words a decade ago, and I don’t feel sorry for myself. He copiously sent me brand new Lego toy collections, Aliens action figures, tin cans of Mackintosh chocolates, a whole set of toy train complete with rails and mountains and tunnels – and they all went with miles of bubble wrap which I was fond of popping. Then he would send me letters telling me to study hard and be good always – ha, thanks for reminding me, but you didn’t have to bother. One day three packages of considerable sizes came. I opened Box number 1 and was surprised by a message that went, “Mike, these are for you. Read them.” I unearthed the contents one by one, and before I knew it over a hundred volumes of encyclopedia were stacked on the floor. I was screaming happy. By the way, I have read all of them, and reading became my pastime that resulted to a sensory impairment.
But he changed the course of my life, literally, because he taught me how to ride a bicycle. It was the most traumatic event that I could probably remember. Whenever he told me to sit steadily he would glare at me, and I would howl like a banshee. What he did was he strapped my feet on the pedals and pushed me down the street without knee pads and other protective gears. It was embarrassing – my friends would look out from their windows and shake their heads in obvious distress. And painful, for every time he shoved me to the end of the street my bike and I would fall together. It was not a pleasant state of affairs. Then he taught me how to drive, which was something I must say was far much better than learning the two-wheeled variant. He promised to get me and my sister student driver’s permits. They haven’t materialized until this very hour.
Then came the event that made me think twice about over-generalized first impressions. I won’t furtively go into details since it was quite sensitive, but let’s just say that we’ve been sued and he was the one being asserted as the perpetrator. Of course, we know we’re on the right track, and all allegations made to him were blatantly untrue. I was there with him all the time – prayers, physical presence and all – and to summarize, we won the case. Upon hearing the words “Case Dismissed” he hugged my mom, my sister, and me. It took one hysterical situation for me to realize that I was wrong.
As most people would attest, it’s really hard to encapsulate a person’s life in such a limited space. Going into details would mean riveting your eyes on the screen for 47 years. But I managed to give it a shot. At least I felt good.
Dad, happy birthday. I need not say it, but I’d do so nonetheless – I love you. Yeah, give me five. Thousand.