My dad was born and raised in Pakistan, but lived in England for quite some time (he is half British, his grandparents are native to the UK). He was the middle child of eight, but definitely the most adventurous. Before the age of 26, he had already studied in Belgium, traveled half of Europe and some parts of Asia, worked at various places throughout his travels (my favorite being the toothpaste factory in Russia!) and spent nearly a year of interning in Nigeria as an english teacher. When he returned to Pakistan that year, his parents insisted on his marriage to the daughter of a friend, my mother. She was at the time, an aspiring med school student, a dilligent, hard-worker who loved to party and didn't study nearly as hard as she should have (since her daddy was the education minister at the time T~T) so she got her degree with a little bit of "help". Then, after marriage, my father took her along with him in their travels (so many photos @_@) they stayed at different countries at a time, giving my mom work experience and my dad his usual learning pieces and bits of languages and cultures. They spent nearly three months in sweden, where my mom wanted to settle down, but decided against when my dad expressed his interest in settling down in canada so off they went. My dad was a scientist so he opened a laboratory and my mom got a small job as a physician. After about a year or so, there was an argument at her job so they moved to America (NYC), where my sister was born. (this is the 70s people.) My dad opened a lab in NY, too. They switched back to Canada at some point in my sister's childhood and my brother was born (80s). They moved back when he was in preteens, but I wasn't born until '93 and by that time, my dad was at the point of retirement and somewhere along the way, my parents were considering divorce. My brother was the usual crazy teenage boy going out and coming late and sneaking in through the basement. my sister ran off to college in canada and then my mom tried to get my dad to sell the house and they got separated. After that, I've been living with my dad. We started living with my mom here and there for periods of a year or more, but with the excessive fighting, we'd always end up separating after that period of time.
Anyways, what have my parents taught me?
Really, the question is, what has my mom taught me? Well, she's taught me everything I don't want to be in life - I don't want to be anti-religious, a hypocrite and a psycho money-lover that's so greedy that she's become a workaholic. And she just keeps piling up the money and the houses and all that trash. She's going to fall over one day and regret it. I learned from her that money isn't important. No matter what, when she didn't have the money she was happier. When she didn't care about the money, she cared about her family. I don't ever want to fall prey to money - or greed, for that matter.
My dad, retired as he has been since I was a child, has taught me that also. We rarely had the money for fancy dinners or expensive things. I was the kind of kid that built things out of sticks and stones and was happy with just that. When I needed a new notebook, I would take the remaining pages out of my older ones and staple them together with the white side of a post office folder as the cover. Things like that reminded me that it wasn't what you possessed, but what you had. I had a family, a loving father, a wonderful world outside - cats and birds and trees, I spent most of my time sitting in the park and singing or talking to myself or writing in a journal. My upbringing was so peaceful and so poor at the same time. We didn't really have a place to live. Every few months or so we'd move from one place to another, taking a room in someone's apartment or temporarily borrowing the house of someone who was away for vacation for a few months. It was painful, when I got older and realized what was going on, but even when it hit me, I would be reminded to think of my dad, and how hard he was working for me, even though he was old and tired and that would give me strength.
You can be amazing without actually having any kind of possession. You don't need material wealth to give yourself value. You don't need material things to live a life you will be satisfied with. You just need an open heart and a clear mind.
That is the greatest thing that my father taught me.
From my mother, I continue to learn what I should not do. I should not get angry, because you cannot control anger. I should not be a hypocrite, because the truth will come out. I should not lie to myself, because that drives you insane. I should not lie to my family, because they honestly are the only people who are going to be there for me when things go bad.
From my father, I learn to appreciate the world. He has taught me every manner, every etiquette, every possible ounce of love in my heart has been instilled there. If you give me any kind of word, I will relate a memory of my father. Animals, fruits, manners, history, physics, taking walks in the park, taking computers apart, talking, racing, dancing, laughing, cooking, cleaning, drawing, coloring, painting, designing, thinking, crying --- my father has invested the last 18 years into making me into a confident individual who can see the world as it really is, who wants to live a life outside of the bubble of security and actually do something to change people's lives.
I don't go with the flow, I create the flow. The refreshing personality that I have (not to sound arrogant or anything) is a product of my mother's anguish against me (yes, sometimes all these years, i've been trying my best to just prove to her how different I am from her and how much stronger I will be just because of her hatred against me), but most strongly, my father's hard work.
Despite my parents still being separated and not getting along, I can honestly say I think they are happy. And I respect them for the fact that they tried. For the sake of their children, they sacrificed what they could. Even if my mother got lost along the way, I know her intentions had been to give me a better life. When I was born and she sent me off with my aunt and did not reveal to me my real parents until five years later, I thought she abandoned me, but now I can understand the plea of a mother who has no income to support another child wanting her child to live a life of luxury where possible, I can understand that selfish plea. It's not right, but I can understand. And my father, who probably lives and breathes now only for my sake, to make sure that I am happy and comfortable and capable and responsible so that I can live and thrive when he is gone, in the near future.
And as my parents are old, I realize that innate feeling of love towards one's parents never really goes away. Whether you hate them or you love them, the connection will always be there. That's why, I forgive my mother for her wrong display of affection. I forgive her for all the times she acted like she hated me. It's possible that, in her own way, she does love me, and I will stake my hopes on that. Even if it's not true, I will believe it is, because all mothers, in some minute form, will love the baby they bore. And my father, I love him for all his flaws because has worked hard.
While they are still alive, I will glorify them. I will call them every day from my hostel and talk to them kindly, because without my parents I would not be there. Without my mother, I would not know the pain of not being understood, the anguish and frustration of ranting about her behaviour. pain, too, is an important part of life. Without my father I would not know the sweet taste of apples plucked from a tree, the feeling of climbing a tree to pick blackberries, the tickle of wet grass on a mountain top, the beauty of stars in the wilderness, the fun of traveling -- all these delights of life, my father made sure to show me.
In the end, I am their daughter.
happily & thankfully so.