I have a photo of my father and I taken at the park, we are both standing bare-footed on the grass. I must have been 5 or 6, wearing a sundress and smiling guilelessly at the camera. He has one arm around me and i am just tall enough to rest my head above his waist.
Admittedly, we don't have the best relationship. I never know what to say to him when my mother passes the phone to him, and neither does he know what's really going on in my life.
But for some reason I found myself talking about my father to a student today, and I suddenly miss the father I had growing up, before we became distant strangers living under one roof.
I remember how he used to take us to fly kites at Marina Bay and shopping for clothes on weekends. How I always fell asleep on the living room couch watching television or reading and he would carry me into my room and tuck me into bed. How he got me my first digital camera when I went on my first school trip to Hawaii, or how I guilt-tripped him into buying a coloured Palm Pilot for me in university. Or when I started my first job in the industrial park and he would drive me to work even though it was out of the way, the journey marked by awkward silence but filled with an unspoken love. How he would pick me up from my office after I hit the gym and was too tired to take the train home. And I would never forget the usually-stoic him looking into P's eyes and humbly thanking him for taking care of me when my parents sent us off at the airport before I moved to Japan.
Absence really does make the heart grow fonder- I am reluctant to remember the repeated incidents of hurt and disappointment he inflicted upon me. Instead, I hold on to my fondest memories of him and wish I could see his face again, if only to tell him that I am still his girl.