Dear papa,

Thank you for being my playmate when I was a toddler. For taking me around the neighbourhood on your bicycle, for playing with Mr. Caterpillar, Charlie Barlie, Fifi and me, for carrying me in your strong arms whenever I was too tired to walk. 

Thank you for comforting me when I had a terrible nightmare at six. Thank you for attending to my midnight nose-bleeds.

Thank you for fishing me out of the water the time I turned turtle while wearing a float, my head stuck in the water, my legs kicking desperately at thin air.

Thank you for waking me up early one vacation in Penang, bringing me for a walk to see the beauty of a small starfish.

Thank you for playing badminton with us, for teaching us how to cycle and play ball. 

Thank you for driving me to my endless classes. For your comment on my water colour painting after one art class — you said the seahorse could sell for RM35. I was over the moon. I thought I was going to be able to make a living from selling RM35 paintings then.

Perhaps I grew up too fast, or I was too busy, or you were, but somehow I remember nothing of the years in between, except stress, disapproval and strong advice.

But thank you for the constant emails for the past two years. The unwavering belief you had in me, you still do. 

And as of late, the patience and graciousness and space you have given me. Thank you for your ability to appreciate me in my imperfections.

I am incredibly proud of you, your determination and grit, your excellence and wisdom. Your ability to withstand great pressure, your steadiness. Your courage to stand up for the right things, unafraid of challenging the norms. The man I marry must be like you — a sturdy tree.

Happy Father’s Day.