wouldn’t be a Father’s day without you. On the day you were born (one
sunny afternoon, in Port-of-Spain General Hospital, when the West Indies
was, uncharacteristically, I am convinced, in celebration of your arrival,
dealing up Australia in a cricket match) I was overwhelmed.
was in awe that this perfectly formed creature came out of your mother’s
belly, and that I had more than something to do with it! I may have been a
bit jealous at being ousted as the man of the house by your mother’s
immediate adoration for and absorption by you, but mostly, I was so puffed
up with pride that I could barely make it out of the door.
remember racing to the Oval to proclaim your arrival to the world,
shouting to anyone who would listen over the roar of the crowds, “I have
a son now, my boy, my son, who is an extension of my grandfathers and his
and my fathers.” I felt as if I had personally vaulted the highest peaks
in the world to deserve you. You would be everything I never was, achieve
all I had not and more and more and more.
your early years, I was delighted at all your little miracles. The first
time you walked, the day you said Da-da, the day you held a bat for the
first time. But it seemed natural that your mother would take over your
day-to-day needs, from changing your diapers to preparing your lunch kits
and supervising homework, to sounding like a broken record
repeatedly asking you to pick things up, help around the house, and
then, to keep your music down, speak in sentences, don’t swear.
course, I put my foot down several times, like after the time you totalled
our new car and the time you drank yourself sick the day you turned 18. I
hammered you, and told you our house was not a hotel, that you should
either obey the rules of the house or get out. I remember when you turned
on your heel and left, for God knows where, for the night with the
chilling words, “Well, you use the house as a hotel. You are never home
came apart the day I tried to give you a cut-tail for punching your sister
in the stomach during an argument, and you, now stronger than me,
restrained me and said coolly, “How come you never have a problem
hitting Mom, you bully?”
that we came to a dodgy truce. I desperately wanted you to go to
university, (not, to my regret, paying attention to your sister, who needs
to be more independent than you do because she’s supporting two children
on her own) but by then you were already far out of the influence of my
is only now, in my old age, and I am seeing how successful you are, how
you decided at age 40 to go for your MBA, how you share all areas of
child-rearing with your wife, from the time you held her hand during the
delivery of your children. To your use of motivation rather than fear to
bring up your children. To how you have already primed your girls and your
boy for university. To how you happily shoulder the burden of running a
house and bringing up your children equally with your wife who also works.
I see the mistakes I have myself made. I think with regret of the time of
your childhood that will never come back, the jokes I never had time to
share with you, the missed conversations. I have learned that I may have
fathered you, but you are an independent entity, with a spirit and destiny
that was in my safe-keeping for a while.
have learned from looking at your bond with your mother, wife and
children, that children don’t get “a sense of values” with a monthly
lecture, or a cut-tail, but that a sense of right and wrong is inculcated
in the hundreds of daily incidents in our lives, with sharp vigilance.
Sharing is taught at a birthday party; kindness and compassion while
visiting Grandma; manners taught morning, noon and night.
learned not to say “do as I say and not as I do” and I am lucky today
to have a son who has done just that. I’m proud of the way you and my
daughter-in-law have managed to remain independent entities with your
friends and an individual destiny, and hence always interesting to one
another, while creating a unit that is a family.
felt, having grown up in a different generation that I would appear weak
if I hugged you too hard, if I told you I loved you, if I said sorry. In
our day, manhood was defined differently. I can see now how much we men of
the macho age missed out from rocking you to sleep, to really listening to
your dreams instead of wanting to impose mine on you.
felt my nights out with the boys were my right; that my rage as the head
of the household if the food wasn’t cooked to my liking was justified,
that I could walk in and out of your lives as I wished.
you turned out right. Perhaps there were values I was able to instill in
you despite all my faults, that of a sense of right and wrong, that of
integrity and the value of making money not by being a smart man but by
working hard (you don’t think your old man is not going to take any
credit for the fine human being you are today do you?). So, son, you are
today, the man I always wanted you to be, perhaps more, despite me than
because of me. I love you, always will.