Persiscope Father and Son

“Happy Son Day, little Baba.” “It’s not Sunday, Baba; oh, I get it…hahaha” my seven year bends over with laughter and slaps his thighs; even Jerry Seinfeld doing stand up in the Catskills would envy such an audience. The next three hours my son and I celebrated our father and son day with him showing me all his school work, his teachers’ comments on his homework, his drawings (with so many of them about him and his big Baba), his report card, his new tricks on his Yo-Yo; his life distilled for me in a few hours of video conferencing over skype; our lives intertwined across the miles thanks to technology. While my wife and son are away in Milwaukee, I sit in my Dhaka room late nights and find ways to hold on to my family by writing stories for my son, watching my wife and son on skype and talking to them, making plans for what we are going to do together when I visit in fall, picturing our life when they come back to Dhaka in winter, and being grateful for the laughter we share almost every night. But, like many other parents of our generation, I sometimes wonder if I am being a good father. During those early morning hours when I stay awake, I am sometimes assailed by doubt, mugged by thoughts in which I question whether I am giving my son everything I can to make him a better person, whether I am teaching him all the things that he needs to know to withstand the slings and arrows that may rain down on him as he grows up. There are mornings I wake up thinking whether am I doing enough, being enough of a good father so that my son grows up to be a man he can be proud of. When my father was diagnosed in Toronto with pancreatic cancer in early 2005, I was devastated. I felt unmoored from everything that mattered in my life until that point, more lost because I was unable to share with anyone my dread at losing my father. At that time, my little family was flourishing in our home in Milwaukee, I was about to make partner at my firm and I was enjoying my work and feeling on top of the world. That changed, seemingly instantaneously, from the moment I walked out of the doctor’s office in Toronto, with the vuvuzela buzz of the word “cancer” etching chicken claw scratches in my head. I kept on smiling, eating, laughing, working more, spending weeks at home with my wife and son, and most weekends with my father in Toronto. Through repeated operations, massive infections and intense pain, I saw my father’s indomitable spirit face down cancer’s cruelty; but each weekend I saw him getting weaker, frailer, less able to muster his optimism. While my father’s optimism and strength during this

period was real, my faux Alpha male brave face was not; I felt completely unable to face the reality of what was about to happen, and did not know how to get help. So, I continued to immerse myself in work. Then in June of 2005, while visiting my father at the hospital prior to another major operation, I received a call from my business partner in China; I was needed there to close a transaction which my partners, all cowboy entrepreneurs, and I believed would get us to retirement by 40. My sister, being supportive, let me go to China. My father, undergoing intense hallucinations at that time due to the infections running riot through his body, hallucinated that he was in China with me and shouted out that I should not go as the guys around me were evil and I would get into trouble. I did not listen to my father and went to China, leaving him in his hospital bed in Toronto; my road to early retirement, my once in a lifetime transaction, did not close and I regretted leaving my father. I also made an almost fatal decision during that trip that shattered me, completely bringing down my outward façade of normality. For almost a year after my father died, during which period the shattering continued, I used to dream almost nightly of my father standing by my bed and silently wagging his finger at me, his face stern, his eyes (normally smiling) sad, worried. Then, in August of 2006, my life righted itself with a lot of help from my family and friends, and I stopped having those dreams. _____________________________________________________________________ ________________________ When I get my early morning jitters about my abilities as a father, I remind myself that all I can do is to give love and encouragement to my son, and teach him lessons I have learnt from my many mistakes, which lessons I pray he will use to someday to venture out into the world and be a happy, compassionate, generous adult. I believe it was Carl Jung who said that children dream their fathers’ dreams; so I pass on my inheritance from my father to my son, of dreams of a better world, of justice, of doing for others.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful