Ngan Siong Hing, my Papa, has worn many hats in his life. He was a young and handsome English teacher at the ACS Ipoh, a student activist cum part time waiter in London, a barrister, a firebrand politician and most of all, a devoted husband, father, son and brother to his family. He did not speak much about his early days in small town Gopeng except that they were very poor and the whole village chipped in to put him on a one way ticket to the UK. He made good.
Even though his passing happened 11 months ago, it is still strange to speak of him in the past tense. I have known Papa my whole life and my heart still sears with pain whenever a memory of him is invoked involuntarily in my mind. He was, in my still juvenile expressions, the Man. And the temptation is still there to tilt my head back cognitively, to seek his views on this piece I am writing. I am sure he will loathe to find out that someone has attempted to write a piece about him and that the loathing may turn to agony that the author is me.
Perhaps one day I may author something which I feel would be worthy of his praise. Knowing Papa and his very modest demeanour and tastes, I will keep things short and bittersweet. I hope you would not disapprove.
Papa, I will always miss the days when you used to tuck me in at night. The smell of tobacco and ale as fresh to me as the morning balm. I will remember the times when you wrote for me all those letters to skip school even though you knew I feigned illness. You were my partner in crime. I miss the times when I could turn to you for wise counsel. I wished I could have told you all these things when you were still around. I wished I could turn the clock back. I love you Papa. May you find eternal peace in God’s arms.