Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blast from the Past: Dad's History

Dad is the eldest son of six children, though he has an elder sister. I've never met my grandpa from dad's side 'coz he died when my dad was in his early twenties (not sure about the year, though). Grandpa came from Singapore (perhaps he was born there or his family may have moved there from mainland China - but I don't know the details), whereas grandma was born in Indo (so again like my mom's mother, she didn't speak Chinese). Grandma came from a family where the daughters were only taught how to sew and how to do house chores. Grandpa was a businessman (not sure what he did, though, but he was pretty successful I suppose 'coz grandma never had to work outside of home). 

Grandpa's business went bankrupt at one time so that my dad couldn't even pay for his tuition anymore. That was the reason why he quit going to the uni and I suppose not long after that grandpa died, leaving the older kids struggling to earn some income to support the family. Dad used to tell us how during those tough times, they would be lucky to get some leftover food from a restaurant or factory to eat. Dad told me that sometimes at school a friend of his would treat him stuff because my dad didn't have money to buy anything and I know that he cherished his friend's generosity (this friend sometimes came by our place as well).

My mom used to say that even though her own family wasn't rich, but she had never experienced any trouble with the basic necessities in life such as food. Being the eldest son in a patriarchal community pushed dad to find a steady job as soon as possible. Dad was meticulous and he loves planning and organizing and archiving stuff, so he became an accountant for a bakery. He worked there for a few years, then he became an accountant for a family business for many many years. That was when he met mom, but I'll write about it in another post. :-D

Dad loved soccer. He was proud of the fact that he was a pretty good soccer player (he'd proceed to tell us the tricks he did to confuse his opponents back in the days). I suppose he did play a lot of soccer with his friends or neighbours when he was younger. And yes, my own brother loves soccer, as well. :-D

Dad sometimes pulled some pranks on his sisters. One time his bespectacled younger sister put her glasses on the dining room table and she went to have a shower. Then dad switched the glasses with a pair of bras and he laughed so much when his sister came back and she was so surprised when she found out that her glasses had turned into a pair of bras LOL!!! :-D

Dad also told us many times that grandma kinda favored him for some reason. Back during the days, sometimes grandma would buy dad's favourite snack or food and hide it in the pantry and she'd only give it to him once he got back home - and of course the other siblings would protest! LOL!!!

Anyway, after quitting his job as an accountant in that family business, the lady boss told him that because he was so honest, he wouldn't be "successful" (as in dad's not cunning enough to be able to become a rich businessman). Those words were burnt at the back of his mind, propelling him to prove her wrong. I think after that my parents joined forces with my mom's elder brother to open a printing business. They printed lots of pharmacy labels for different pharmacies (the kind of ziplock little plastic bags to put pills into). I remember those rough days. My parents and my uncle hired two people to help out, but still each of them had to do tough work day in day out. The strong smell of the paint permeated the house so strongly that we got used to it after a while. They used the room in the attic to run the business. For a while it seemed to be doing fine, but afterwards it just didn't work as well, so they closed the business and sold the equipment.

After that my dad became unemployed for a while (mom went back to selling food at the local market) and then he started buying some fish for pleasure but then turned out that he managed to take care of one type of fish well enough that they started breeding. At that time it was quite a good business to sell fish, so with mom's help my dad went on to breed some fish for a while to help make some extra money. Once the "fish trend" died down, my dad couldn't make extra money from it anymore and as luck would have it, a relative introduced him to the world of insurance. Yep, he recruited dad to be an insurance agent.

When he started training, he was the oldest of the bunch and back then insurance was still considered something new in Indo. Being the oldest of the bunch who wore untrendy clothes meant that some people mocked him and undermined him. You see, in Indo even until today I still feel that "appearance" is more important than here in Sodankyl√§. After all, "status" is more important there 'coz of the social system and the huge gap between the rich and the poor. 

So anyway, those mockery propelled dad to prove them wrong. He worked hard despite his shyness and with mom's help and encouragement, he blossomed there. You see, mom used to tell me that in the beginning of their marriage, whenever a guest came over for a visit, dad would hide himself in the bedroom he he he he...He used to be so quiet, but after joining the insurance world, he gained more and more confidence to talk to strangers. In the beginning, though, my dad would always want to be accompanied by mom and he started to sell insurance policies to relatives and friends first and only after that he started widening his net and he grew bold enough to ask for references from his clients as to who else they could refer to him. That was dad's last job. He worked there until he retired. In between selling insurance policies he also tried different types of MLM (multi-level marketing) programs, but they never really worked too well for him. 

Rest in peace, my mind, you're a VERY successful person 'coz you were honest, you never cheated on people or your wife and you put your priorities straight and I never doubted that you loved us with everything you've got. :-)


  1. Smp cireumbay gua bacanya Mel :') (and am not PMSing)
    What a noble person, especially seeing it through his beloved daughter's eyes. Rest in peace and until we meet again, Oom...

    1. He he bro would've written the same things - though he's not really into writing. :-) One thing I forgot to write is his love for singing with such gusto, even when he didn't know the lyrics, he'd made them up LOL!!!