Dad and I
by Shalini Damodaran
This is a story of a love that was not fully expressed between a daughter and her father.
This memoir is a tapestry of recollections, reflections and emotions that emerges as a daughter explores her relationship with her father on his deathbed. As she walks in her father’s shoes, she begins to wonder about her father’s motivations to leave India for Singapore in the 1930s when he was only 15.
The immigrant thread provides insights into the motivations, challenges and struggles faced by many immigrants like my dad who came to Singapore in the 1930s, and stayed to build a sense of community that contributed in significant ways to early nation building. It will provide younger generations from immigrant societies with simple lessons on the attitudes and values needed to create a more inclusive society.
The ‘no holds barred’ authentic expression of deep emotions that form the backbone of the narrative takes readers through a world of dreams, spirits and ghosts as the daughter tries to gain a deeper understanding of her father, and the relationship she shared with him.
The three clear takeaways for readers of my memoir:
1) Death, fatal diseases or negative life experiences can provide us with positive life changing experiences if we embrace them. It helps us better understand ourselves, and rekindle relationships forgotten, neglected or ignored. My memoir started out as a tribute to my dad but ended up being cathartic as it led to a deeper understanding of my relationship with him.
2) Embracing diversity and being open and inclusive are vital for peace and harmony. It starts with faith in oneself and trust in others regardless of their social status or religious and ethnic backgrounds. It gives one the courage to venture into the unknown fearlessly as the focus shifts to the bright spots paving the way for opportunities for growth. There are lessons especially for immigrants in any age to adapt and assimilate into their host countries;
3) Writing a personal story, you care about from the heart, can lead to a transformational experience. It provides greater clarity, and a better understanding of yourself, others and your relationships.