Thursday, December 4, 2008
One beautiful Saturday afternoon, everyone was at home generally lounging. I'd passed the living room several times and seen my dad flipping through a magazine. At first I thought it was one of his numerous engineering catalogues but the animated look on his face meant otherwise. Soon after, he excitedly called us kids to come see something in the mag. We all wondered as we gathered round him. It was a home-improvement magazine and he had the page turned to a section on lighting fixtures. There were so many beautiful designs but a really nice-looking blue one had caught his attention and he was asking us what we thought. We simply looked at each other and shrugged non-committally as though to say "who cares what we think? What difference does it make anyway?" We readily agreed with him that it was indeed very nice. That was it. The gathering dispersed and my dad left he living room to go to his bedroom. Soon after, we heard the roar of his car engine as he drove out the gates. He could have been going to any number of places - the filling station or the mechanic workshop or even a friend's place.
Two hours later, he drove in and started offloading brown boxes of stuff from the car. Out of curiosity, we all ran outside wondering what the goodies were. There was a mischievous look on his face as he handed each of us the boxes to carry inside. We hurried with the carrying because the faster we did, the quicker we got to see what's inside. The excitement just kept building and daddy wasn't telling!
Finally we had all the boxes sitting on the living room center table and while we all watched, he opened the first box to reveal the same nice-looking blue lighting fixture we'd seen in the magazine just a few hours earlier! We were all like wow! Quickly we all unpacked the boxes. The electrician was called. In a few short hours, all the old light fixtures came down, the new ones went up and the appearance of the living room changed! It certainly did feel as though Christmas was in the air even though it was still mid-year then. My dad could do that to you.
If he saw a car he liked or even a beautiful house, he'd draw your attention to it excitedly and if it was close enough for you to touch, he'd ask you to place your hand on it and get the feel of it cos "one day, it could be yours"! He had really big dreams and he liked to talk about them too.
My parents have 9 kids and the first five are girls. It was from my dad that I learnt that being a girl was no excuse for mediocrity. Being a girl didn't mean you were weak and so needed some guy to do 'everything' for you. You just had to be strong and take charge of your life! Taking charge of your life for him meant having a solid academic foundation and that was what he consistently sought to give us. Taking charge of your life also meant being able to handle a few 'masculine' chores yourself.
On environmental sanitation days, it was us girls who were out there with the guys doing the extra work of cleaning out the gutters and shoveling sand off the sidewalk! I learnt how to wash and wax a car so well because I often did it for my father. My dad personally taught me how to change a flat tire so I won't be stranded on the road if I ever had one!
Whenever I think of the many triumphs of faith we experienced with my dad, I am inspired again and again. My dad was a man of great faith! It's amazing how he was able to show his faith in everyday living.
There was a period in time when his company had all but folded up. Those were really tough times and even us kids knew that things were no longer the way they used to be. We had meetings in the mornings with mom where we all decided what meal to miss. Mostly we preferred to miss lunch. Several times the little ones were sent home from school with a note from the headmistress asking when the fees would be paid. It was bad but daddy seemed to take it all in his stride. In fact, he actually told us that he was glad we were experiencing this hardship because life was not always easy and it would teach us to be strong.
One of those days was really exceptionally bad and there was not a dime anywhere. We didn't even have the luxury of two meals for the day. My dad declared a fast. He said we were not going to go anywhere but stay indoors fasting and praying till something happened. He made sure we were not enveloped by gloom or filled with sadness over the grim prospects before us. Every few hours, we gathered to sing praises, we prayed and read of bible heroes of faith. By 3pm, most of us were really famished and mom quickly threw together a little meal for us who could not continue. Mom and dad were going to continue theirs for the rest of the day.
There was a calmness in the house. Not a gloomy kind of calm but a hopeful one. There were stirrings of faith in our hearts but we weren't quite sure what the outcome would be.
Around 6pm, there was knock on the front door. A man wanted to see my dad.It turned out he'd been driving past our road for close to 2hrs looking for my dad's company. He had no idea that the office had relocated and most of the company's operations were now being carried out from within our living room! (The former office was just opposite the house).
Bottom line - He urgently needed a long list of heavy duty engine parts required for some work the next day and he'd checked all other companies he thought would have them but they were out of stock. My dad's place was his last port of call and if he didn't get them here, he'd give up and go home. It turned out that my dad had everything he had on his list and the man paid cash! It was the single largest sale in several years! We were all short of words! It was a miracle!! God answered!! Oh how we sang that night. We sang with our hearts. We sang with our bodies. We sang! That miracle brought tears to my eyes. I cried tears of joy. Words were not enough but neither were the tears too. Nothing could suffice - would suffice.
In my young heart, I saw faith work wonders. I found that there was nothing we could not achieve if we would only believe. That became our lifestyle as a family. We prayed about anything and everything. We watched God work in our favour time and time again except for once. There was one prayer that God did not answer. One unanswered prayer that caused me to cry like I have never done in my entire life nor ever will again. Just one.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Once school closed and we got off the school bus, we knew there was a steaming meal waiting for us! The school bags would go flying to one corner while we make our way to the kitchen with shouts of "mommy good afternoon!". Then off come the sandals and socks - I still wonder how we managed to do that with one fluid movement. By the time we got to the kitchen we'd have stripped to our little singlets and panties. And sure enough, there was food waiting for us! We knew however that we could look at the food but not touch it until we'd picked up every single piece of school accessory we'd dropped on our way to the kitchen. It was almost like a ritual.
I can't remember not ever meeting my mom at home after I came back from school. She was always there and ever patient to listen to all our ramblings about how school was that day. She always had some little project she was working on. If she wasn't fixing torn clothes with a thread and needle, she was sewing a new one with her sewing machine, or knitting a sweater, or tending to her chickens in the backyard.
If we needed anything, we went straight to mummy to ask for it. When she finally gave it to us she'd say don't forget to thank daddy for it o! Whenever our school fees were paid she'd make sure we knew it was daddy that paid for it and we should not forget to say "thank you".
As far as I was concerned, my daddy was a far away thought. He was never really around. Not that we never saw him or that he abandoned us, but he was always on one business trip or the other. He'd only stay for a few days in-between trips. Even then, whenever he was around, I had this uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach, you know, like he was spoiling all my fun. I just couldn't wait till he was off gain cos it always seemed like he was a spare wheel! Funny now that I think of it. How did I manage to form that opinion about him? I must have been between the ages of 5 and 9 during that period!
Just before I left Primary school for junior secondary, it finally dawned on me that my dad wasn't going anywhere anymore. He'd been around for like 5weeks already and he wasn't budging. What was I to do? Pretend he wasn't there? It didn't take long though for me to see that something had definitely changed about my dad. What was it? There was this quietness around him. if you ever met my dad, you'd find he was anything but a quiet man. His voice always boomed across the room when he spoke and when he laughed? The walls literally shook!
His voice was enough to send us kids scurrying when we knew we would be reprimanded for some wrong-doing. He was a disciplinarian and you really didn't want to cross his path! You can imagine why he wasn't exactly our favourite parent then.
But he'd fallen silent. Not that he didn't talk or laugh like before but there was this atmosphere he exuded. He had definitely changed but I couldn't put a finger on it. There was one of those days, I remember the incident vividly but not the words that were spoken. In my mind's eye as I write, it comes across like a silent melodrama - no words, only actions and gesticulations....
I am pressing some clothes and my dad approaches me from his private living room. He asks me a question and I shake my head. He says something else with a serious look on his face and I start giggling. What he says isn't funny in any way, in fact there is an earnestness in his face but my giggle only progresses till it becomes full blown laughter - mockery more like. He just stands there and stares at me, visibly fighting the anger that must have begun to well up inside him. Suddenly he turns around and walks away. I turn off the pressing iron, run up the stairs to my room, flop on my bed and cry. Strange incident. Really strange indeed. Was I taunting him? Maybe testing the waters? Why was I laughing at him? Why didn't he just grab me and 'deal' with me for mocking him? Till this day, I have no idea but that incident left an indelible impression on my heart - my dad had changed and he was truly home to stay.
From that day, the way I saw my dad changed. I saw he was making efforts to be included in our lives. We started having family devotions, and there began to be an atmosphere where we were free in the presence of our dad. Rather than go through our mom, we were now able to go straight to daddy to make our requests. He threw open the doors to his private living room letting us into his world. I discovered for the first time how so very funny my dad was! It was a new life...a whole new world was open for us to explore.
If you would stay close to my blog, I'll take you through that world....the world of my father.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs and stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass, where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see in broad daylight, streams full of stars like skies at night.
No time to turn at beauty's glance, and watch her feet how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can enrich that smile her mouth began.
A poor life this if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.
In primary school then, we were made to memorise several poems and this one was one of them. I had completely forgotten all about it when I ran accross the poem again recently and I laughed at myself when I, for the first time, actually understood what the poem was all about!
I must have been barely 7 or 8 years old then and my only concern was just to ensure that I recited the poem (whatever I thought of it) for the audience without missing a line. At the end of the recital, I'd wait dutifully for the applause I knew was coming and when it was done, I'd courtesy and return to my seat, my heart pounding in my chest the whole time!
But now, about 20years later, I read that poem and find that it holds so much meaning. What indeed is this life "if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare"? You know, like they say, stop and smell the roses!
I believe that if we let it, life will just happen to us. Afterall, if we just sat and did nothing, the day would break and night would fall. Time would simply pass. And that's all our lives will be in the larger scheme of things - A passage of time. Sad if you ask me! On the other hand, we can actually make life happen for us and enjoy it the whole time!
A few weeks ago, it seemed like I was being inundated with so much bad news that i felt overwhelmed! I had challenges with my health, two of my sisters got knocked down by a hit-and-run driver, just as two of them were getting better, one of them reacted severely to one of the drugs she was taking and it put her life on the line, a neighbour was seriously ill and even her husband feared for her life, a friend's sister lost her baby yet again, my car got bashed (yet again) by a careless danfo driver ...... the list could go on. It seemed like I was placed in such a vulnerable position that news such as Christians in India being killed which obviously seems like a remote problem made me feel like it was all happening in my own back yard! (Not that it shouldn't or doesn't concern me....)
Everything was happening all at the same time and I found my mind consumed with the problems and challenges that were before me. Laughter seemed so far away and I even questioned my faith at some point. The truth however is that these things are a part of the life we live. Of course some of our problems are self inflicted and so could be avoided in the first place but there are other problems that still come to us even after it seems we'd played all our cards right.
Something however kept me going - faith. My faith in God that everything would be alright in the end kept me forging ahead and helped me make the right decisions at each turn. That faith helped from time to time, to look away from my avalanche of problems and count for my self those things for which I am grateful. It made me see that everything may not necessarily work out the way I planned, but would all work out for my good. Sometimes I felt that my faith was useless and I sought to squelch it but it would not be quenched, a flicker remained and gradually that flicker was fanned into a huge flame by the little victories I recorded each day.
Did you ever watch that animated movie "Prince of Egypt"? I love that movie especially the lyrics of one of its soundtracks - "When you believe".
".......Now we are not afraid, though we know there's much to fear.
We were moving mountains long before we knew we could......
....there can be miracles, when you believe, though hope is frail
it's hard to kill.
Who knows what miracle you can achieve, If you believe, somehow you will......"
That song touches a special spot in my heart and makes that bible story ever so vivid before my eyes. A classic case of overcoming all odds to reach the finish line. It reminds me that even though sometimes we cannot choose the challenges we face each day, we can make the choice to surmount them or be surmounted by them. We can make the choice to sing even when all around us seem to draw tears from our eyes. We can choose to have faith or be consumed by fear. We can choose to focus on our problems or to count our blessings. Whatever the case, the choice really does ultimately lie with us.
So I ask again - "What indeed is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?"
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In writing, I find I can express myself more than I would talking. As a matter of fact, writing helps me see issues from several view points I had never even considered before! All I need is a pen and a notepad and you've ticked me off! One beautiful thing about writing stuff down is that you can go back and read them again years later and see how much things have changed since then.
For instance while my husband and I were still on the verge of becoming an official 'couple', (We'd been friends for 2years and were considering adding commitment to our relationship - taking it to the next level). I remember writing several thoughts about him. At first I was a bit concerned as to whether or not he was "the one". Our relationship for the last 2years had been so spontaneous and easy-going. It was as though we'd been friends all our lives! And anyone would think it funny but the fact that the relationship was that beautiful got me quite suspicious!
You see, I was just coming out of a relationship that didn't go very well at all. It left me heart-broken and my self-esteem shreds.It took 2years of being friends with P. to gradually begin to feel comfortable again being me. And so you can understand my scepticism as we came to the point where we went from being friends to being a couple. I was so sure everything would change and I'd be back where I started from. Those were the thoughts I wrote in my journal as I asked myself over and over again - "Are you sure you want to do this?"
I went back to my journal more than a year later- just before our wedding- and all I could do was smile. My concerns were absolutely unnecessary! If there ever was an accepting person, it was P. I never had to check myself when I was with him. I never had to plan ahead of time what we needed to talk about just so it came out right. I never had to care how my laughter sounded and he simply knew that when I spoke, it came straight from my heart! So it was possible indeed to be truly free in a relationship? Our first wedding anniversary'll be coming up in a few weeks. These 12months have truly been blissful! I'm not saying this with starry eyes like a teenager oblivious of real challenges. I'm saying this with true conviction in my heart and gratitude to God.
Whew! I thought I was just going to welcome everyone to my blog and see how I got carried away! I told you I loved to write! ha-ha!
Alright, let me welcome you all formally to my space - Enkay's Space.
I'll do my best to update and publish posts from time to time.