THERE are many qualities I admire in my father. Discipline, intelligence, perseverance, and a good sense of humor. He is also a man who never goes down the path of self-pity. If he meets with failure, he just moves on. No need to whine and wallow, life’s like that.
One of the stories my mother loves to share about my father is his steely will power. Once he sets his mind to something, trust that he would keep to it. In his younger days, when he still wasn’t exactly well to do, he just kept at courting her despite the many other rivals in love. In six months, he just told her, “Let’s get engaged.” Imagine, he didn’t even ask. That’s sheer courage and chutzpah.
In so many other things, his discipline and will power is mind-boggling. Last year, after returning home from a trip to Los Angeles, he announced that he would keep a diet of rice, cabbage and chicken breast for two weeks. He never cheated, he never reneged. I would have sneaked in snacks in between my meals, but not my father.
For a long time, he used to smoke one to two packets of cigarette until it affected his health. One day, he finally said, “I’m going to slow down.” And then it went down to one packet a day, and before long, it was a bold commitment to “two cigarettes a day when Chester completes his PSLE.” That year, four years ago, he stood to his word: two, sometimes even one per day.
I only wish I had half that discipline. I also wish I don’t say “I try to” so often. “Do or don’t, there is no try,” as Yoda has said. With my father, trying is non-existent, trying is just going half-way. He works hard, or he wouldn’t have been the successful businessman he is today. “Work hard, play hard” is his motto, and the guiding principle behind his life and business is Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.
My father may sound like he cuts a serious figure, but he is a great conversationalist. If you’re a guest at his table, he would make you feel at ease. He would also come across as a knowledgeable man. I like to think that he knows everything even though he may not be the most adept with smartphones and computers. But he is a genius when it comes to sizing up people and the ways of the world.
As a father, he is always reasonable, even though he may be strict. There’s this artful trick he has about him: he would always believe us even when we are lying. He would never tell us in the face, “You’re lying.” He lets us come face to face with our own guilt at our own time. It’s devastating, yet so admirable.
The day I become a father, that’s exactly the kind of father I’d be. In the meantime, there are so many other things to learn from him. Discipline and courage and hard work. That’s what I most need now because they’re what I lack most.
Chester Chua, Secondary Four
For more essays by Chester, visit Chester Writes.
This essay was written in response to the ‘O’ Levels 2014 exam, Question #3:
Which person has the greatest influence on your life at the present time, and why?