Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Father and 咖哩勿食

When I had difficulties with English in primary school, my parents could not help since they did not know English themselves. Then a remarkable thing happened. My father’s supervisors volunteered to tutor me! Imagine that, superiors volunteering to tutor a subordinate’s son? Actually the significance of their act did not really sink in (in my mind) at the time. What registered more was the way they tutored me. When I had difficulty pronouncing the word “arithmetic”, they told me it sounded like “咖哩勿食” and actually write it down in my book.

My father had retired for 20 years now. But every time he comes back from Canada, his old colleagues would take him out to dinner. It seems they really like him. Because he worked so hard, was so good at his job, and he was so helpful to those around him, his superiors bent over backwards to help him (sometimes even bending the rules in the process, which I cannot disclose). What I can testify to is that once when I came back to HK for the summer while studying in the USA, my two former tutors took my father and me out to dinner. We had so many bottles of beer that evening I lost count.

Ever since he retired, my father has been a full time volunteer, at churches, charitable organizations, old folks’ homes, etc. And he keeps on making friends all over the place. It seems he cannot walk on the street in Hong Kong, Ottawa, and Toronto without bumping into old friends, some he has not seen for 20 years or more.

At home, my daughters would sometimes laugh at grandpa’s jokes - jokes that he told a long time ago, while he was not even there. Now, that is another remarkable thing. Even though they see him no more than once a year, when my parents visit from Toronto, they seem genuinely fond of him.

My father is great.

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