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  • I used to come back at one a.m. after a day at my day job, an evening at the night school where I taught part-time, a youth meeting after that, extended by another gathering at the open-air eateries by the sea, most nights of the week. I would drive my bright red car - that he called my Datsun, that he had bought for me - into the narrow space next to his sedate Ford Anglia 3274. He bought it in the sixties. He did not want to change it for another, newer model. He said it was like changing your wife.

    When I reached the door, I knew he would be there to open it for me. And he always did.

    What I didn't know then was how he had smoothed the way before me all those years before I turned 21. Looking back I realize I had a fairly sheltered life.

    And I knew it was Dad. He had the final say. Even though he always maintained that it is the mother who is the Very Important Person.

    I got up this morning from a fast-fading dream. I was uploading cherry blossom tattoo photos on Cowbird. One was uploaded (it really had been, the above, in the entry Dad at 1 a.m. that I had written in the wee hours of the morning of the 17th, and had put under Private) and I was deciding on another.

    As I was writing the remnants of the dream down, I had second thoughts about Dad at 1 a.m. : maybe it can go under Public. When he was writing his memoirs he had said how much he enjoyed writing.

    Writing to express ourselves is a relatively recent phenomenon. The earliest writings - perhaps to give directions to others - were a means of communication. Maybe Dad has something to say to the wider world.

    I went hunting for his journals. Those were the first things I went to find after he passed away. Most of his days were logged down.

    We found a few more beside the one on his desk at the time he left.

    I opened 2001: With Best Compliments from American International Assurance. Under the AIA logo - a mountain with the word EVERLASTING under it - was their assurance, Trust us for life.

    There is a "bookmark" of two sheets of thin pink paper, yellowing at the edges. Some arithmetic, calculations. Things to get: glucose, Brylcreem, razors. There is a reminder to get Sugar, brown.

    It marks the page, Personal Data.

    Owner: WENCESLAUS MALUDA

    Driving Licence Exp: 09. 04. 2005
    Dad died the month before his driving licence expired. On 16 March 2005.

    Doctor: SMC (Sabah Medical Center)

    His bank is Public Bank. I go there too.

    Husband's/Wife's Birthday: Self : 25. 02. 1922 / 25th Febr.

    Children's Birthdays: While my mother still alive had often said :-
    MY CHINESE AKI's NAME IS LEE TOH SIONG

    In case of emergency please notify:

    My religion is: Roman Catholic. Blood Group: 'O'

    End of Personal Data

    My father is himself called Aki. Grandfather. I feel as if I have come upon something rare and precious. I have wondered who my beloved grandmother's father is for a long time.

    Hawkeye Pete B. is right. Sometimes we have to listen to our dreams.

    All those picnics by the rivers where he went fishing. The pebbles, the stones, big and small, all smooth. He never brought us to the shores where people go to look for clams. The stones of the beaches of the east coast where we resided (Grandmother looked at the places where her progeny dwelled as 'temporary dwelling places.' "Home" was with her.) were newer, geologically speaking, and had sharp edges.

    He made sure the stones under our bare feet were all easy to step on. Monuments of absence. Idorou. In reverse. The absence of sharp edges, those having been worn down and washed away, grain by grain, over aeons.

    I am so glad the young man I was going with brought my Dad and mother, his future parents-in-law, on a hike up Mt. Tom where they saw the pine cone.

    A thank you of sorts.
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