I lugged the picnic-basket up the little hillock. It was a bit heavy for me but that didn't matter.Afterall it contained our " victory treat." I just managed to keep up with my brother and father, who were carrying our prized kite and the paraphernalia that goes with kite-flying. Daddy had clubbed a picnic along with this kite flying event. I was flushed with excitement. We were going to " finish off " all our contenders that day with our daddy-of-all kites ( 4 1/2').
It was a beauty with reinforced twine, painstakingly made by my father because my brother and I lamented that we never " got the better of the others."
Indeed it was a day to remember. A victory crafted for us by Daddy.
I was six years old then but even at fifty-one the memory is as fresh as ever. There are myriad memories painted on the canvas of my childhood, by Daddy. But some stand out more than the others because they have moulded me; given me strength; inspired me and filled my heart with eternal hope.
I was the youngest then, of four children. My younger brother was born much later. I was a tomboy and this aggravated my mother especially since my other siblings were docile and quiet.
Daddy had a big hand in my boyish pursuits. The tales of his boyhood which rivalled Tom Sawyer's, fired my imagination almost to the point of setting out to explore the world at the ripe old age of eight; getting into scrapes with boys who picked on my brother; creeping through the underbelly of a bridge till I was in the middle , to catch a whale from the backwaters of the Arabian Sea, with string and a tiny hook; jumping off an eight foot ledge with a parachute made of a tablecloth, in order to be the youngest para-jumper at age seven.
I suspect Daddy found more of a son in me than he did in my brother for he never reprimanded me nor criticized my escapades. However I'm sure it began to alarm him because he introduced me to music, dance, drama, drawing and painting. He began taking me to visit museums and historical monuments and encouraged my interest in History and Art.
At about this time he also began talking to me about the values of life and Jesus. Not as one would with a child but as he would with an adult. Needless to say there was much I didn't comprehend. This was to be the drift of our conversations in the future. So what went over my head then, finally went into my head and my heart, as I grew older in years and understanding.
I have to tell you about Daddy's singing. To my mother's embarrassment, Daddy would burst into song while walking down the street, causing passersby to turn and stare. Oblivious to my mother's scowl, I'd clap and laugh and join him if I knew the chorus - for those were the songs he sang. His favouite was -
Trust in the Lord and don't despair
He is a friend so true
No matter what your troubles are
Jesus will see you through.
Sing when the day is bright
Sing through the darkest night
Everyday, all the way
Let us sing, sing, sing.
Marriage took me away from home, widowhood brought me back. My husband's death unleashed years of turmoil and struggle. I saw many friends' and relatives' masks fall off, and many of my idols ( Daddy was one ) topple from their pedestals. Until that moment I had never realised that my father was a great preacher who seldom practised what he preached.
Bereft of comfort and support, I found myself falling back on all that Daddy had taught me. My trust and faith in God grew stronger with every onslaught of misfortune. Was it surprising then to find myself singing - Trust in the Lord.......as I wearily lay my head on my pillow ? It was Daddy again.
My IDOL had toppled from its pedestal - but not my Daddy. The initial pain at being abandoned by my parents has given way to a deeper understanding and forgiveness.
When I look back today, it is with immense gratitude to a parent who gave me a goal and showed me the path to tread. I've come a long way Daddy and I want you to know I'm proud of you.
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