My father has forever been known as the funny man. He’s a treasure trove of stories, jokes and hearty laughs. I know he thinks it’s his sense of humour and jokes (most of them borrowed from his hero, my uncle) that everybody loves, but I know it’s much more than that. You can meet him once and be infected by the joyous, unadulterated spirit he exudes. It’s easy to miss the nuances that make up the rest of his character because his charm is so loud. When the words on a page are scrawled in a bright orange marker, you don’t glance between the lines.
I’ve heard stories from my mother about what he was like when they first married. There are things about the man she describes that I don’t recognise as traits of my father. Not because he was awful or anything like that. He was just different. What I hear not in her words but in the melodic tones of her voice, is that after my sister was born, my dad was a changed man. Maybe that’s part of the reason why I don’t recognise him from before- because I’ve only ever known him as a doting and overprotective father. Not as a “bachelor”, or as a bachelor who is adjusting to suddenly married life. For as long as I can remember, my mother, my sister and I have been at the epicentre of his universe. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for any of us.
I was a very sick child. Not the conventional cold and flu kind of sick either, but scaring my family into thinking I was dying every other week kind. I don’t know if this is why, for someone with crazy levels of memory retention, I can’t remember very much from my earliest years. One of the few memories I’ve preserved is resting my head on my father’s shoulder as he carried my fever-ridden body, marching around the flat and reciting poetry from Bangladesh’s greats. If you ever had the honour to listen to one of his recitations, you’d understand my lifelong love of poetry and language.
My father is also a man who is dedicated to his career. His ambition to constantly better himself and achieve greatness as a teacher, has no doubt rubbed off on both my sister and I, as we nurture bordering-on-unhealthy relationships with our work. Sometimes I will meet him in the kitchen in the middle of the night, and ask what he’s doing up. He’ll tell me he’s looking into a great job opportunity in Kazakhstan or California. I’ll reply that I’m putting together an application package for a job in Johannesburg. He’ll tell me not to move so far away and ask if I’ve given any more thought to teaching, reminding me of his notebook full of contacts and friends who are apparently just waiting to make a lecturer out of me. He will insist that if I just say the word, he’ll do all the legwork to make it happen. Anyone could tell you that my father was made to be a father. He’s funny, an entertainer and full of warmth. But he’s also a person of great value and character. I adore him and I thank him. Because I turned out to be a dreamer, just like my father.