Dad has a formidable temper. I remember our childhood speckled with memories of being disciplined with ‘specially made’ canes. Dad would get some cane suitable for hitting naughty kids from furniture shop owners. I remember tagging along once and he said to me “See this? This is for when you don’t listen to me” and bent the cane to test for flexibility and swung it around to test for durability while I stood there watching *sweat*. I remember as well being chased around the house with said cane and locking myself in a room only to find dad climbing through the windows…by then it’s game over. I also remember doing something bad and the first thing I did before dad got home was to find the cane and throw it behind the cupboard. I was right, what I did was bad enough for the cane to make an appearance, but since dad couldn’t find it (to my initial relief), he ended up using one of his leather belt (to my horror). I think I end up pretty normal though. I guess it’s just the way kids are disciplined back then. Kids now are so over protected and pampered.
Anyway, the reason why I wrote all that was to explain how scary dad was. Dad is so much more mellow now and obviously, the cane has retired. However, there are still times when his temper would explode and we would cringe in silence. When he widens his eyes and flares his nostrils in anger, everyone would either 1)stare back in alarm trying to think if we are brave enough to be a smart ass or 2) try not to look, be silent and pretend that everything is going to be A-OK. That was many years back though. This then brings me to an incident as related to me by my brother.
There was a period when dad, who was a civil servant, had to work away from our hometown. Mum would drop him at the jetty very early in the morning and he would catch a boat to another town for work. Either mum or my brother would then pick him up again in the evening. They were late in picking dad up from the jetty one day and dad called to tell them to move it. After hurriedly dropping my sister off for her driving lesson, mum and brother proceeded to drive to the jetty. Unfortunately, they chose that day to try a different route and ended up getting lost. To make matters worse, my brother left his hand phone with my sister as she’d forgotten to bring hers, so there was no way to assauge the oncoming storm.
Arriving at the jetty, as soon as they saw dad’s dark face from the car, they decided to 2) try not to look, be silent and pretend that everything is going to be A-OK. Dad was seriously pissed. He opened the car door, threw his bag on the seat and slammed the door shut. Without turning back, my brother proceeded to drive away. Both mum and brother remained silent, hoping dad would cool down in time. However, as he’d expected at least a barrage of reprimanding from dad about time keeping, my brother was getting really curious when MANY minutes have passed and still there was not a peep from dad. Glancing surreptitiously at the rearview mirror, he was shocked to see that there’s no one at the back. Thinking that his eyes were playing tricks on him, he turned around and looked properly. Still, there’s no dad. By then, his mind was furiously churning. Was dad so angry that he opened the door and jumped out of the moving car? He distinctively heard the door slam shut! Brother turned to mum and said “Ma, pa’s not there” and mum immediately turned around. They’re both stumped. By then, they have almost reached my sister’s driving school and so decided to quickly pick her up and go back to the jetty. When my sister got in the car, she had the hand phone plastered to her ear. She whispered to my brother “What happened? Dad’s so angry! Here!” and passed the phone to my brother. As soon as my brother said Hello, my dad proceeded to let loose a string of swear words. This coming from a man who abhors crude language and had instilled enough fear in us to never breathe any in his presence. (in his presence should be in bold..lol)
It transpired that after dad threw his bag in, he did not follow suit as he had to go to the washroom. However, right after slamming the door shut but before he was able to indicate to them that he’s going to be right back, my brother had driven off without even a backward glance. My dad ran after our car shouting, but to no avail. He had been left stranded. Ta dummmmmmm….. In the end, too embarrassed to go back to where he was (everyone outside a café was watching), dad legged it until my brother found him. Apparently he’d walked many miles. When I asked what happened next and if everyone got a tongue lashing, my sister told me that dad was sheepish when he got into the car. Cute. He probably had time to cool down during the walk. Lol.