By Jagdesh Singh | OPINION |
We both sat at the corner of the finely manicured waiting area of a very posh shop. We’ve been told to wait for an hour for whatever business we went there to be over. It was in the second minute of that one hour wait when we both placed our smartphones in front of us, in comfortable yet bloated silence.
It was uncanny, both of our turbans of beige and sky blue tied in the same style. My half-greying beard wasn’t much of a contrast to his fully white beard. Our sitting posture of the left leg over the right leg at the exact degree of the slanting back in a relaxed half tilt.
At the half-hour mark, we started having light and trivial conversations about home. And it stayed that light and flimsy until it was time.
I had taken some time off from work that day to be with Dad. I didn’t need a good excuse, to be honest. He comes to Kuala Lumpur every couple of months, to attend his community meetings, or a wedding or sometimes even funerals. What he doesn’t tell me vocally is that he also loves the company of his youngest granddaughter while entertaining her elder sisters. His actions, though, speak louder.
It was only a week before where I had lamented to my close friend that I don’t keep in touch enough with my bachelor father. As his only son, I have no excuse whatsoever to not call him on a daily basis. What with my smartphone virtually at my fingertips every waking second of the day (except maybe not when I’m showering). Or that a simple touch of the screen to call him on the video would only cost me a few cents. What’s 5 mins of my time to just say ‘Hello’ to him as we get ready for dinner at home?
Compared to the good old days of the public payphone or the ever-present landline phone within walking vicinity of the house or apartment, the ability to speak or see a loved one is really literally at our fingertips. And yet, I only manage a 10-minute chat and laugh with my septuagenarian dad every 3 or 4 days, which is a crime in itself considering the whole ‘at the fingertips’ thing I just talked about.
But here we were in this waiting area of the shop sitting almost shoulder to shoulder next to each other. Now with the technology in the palms of both our hands, and yet the words exchanged were no more than when we’re chatting hundreds of kilometres away every 3 or 4 days. My entire reason for being there for him that day was to be there with him. As in to spend time and enjoy his company.
Maybe it wasn’t all about how technology will bring both of us closer. Maybe it’s about trying to be closer in spite of technology getting better. Being close, and just being comfortable with each other, really depends on what the relationship is built on. Between me and my father, before the demise of my mother, our foundations of the father-son relationship was almost entirely built on guilt and fear of disappointing him. We did talk. We did laugh.
But when Mom left, then the relationship unraveled to something more of mutual understanding and, dare I say, mutual respect. We still talk. We still laugh. Nevertheless, because of the way the relationship is now built upon, the frequency that we keep in touch with each other really should be a lot better. A parent really should be able to talk and laugh with his or her offspring as often as possible. Even if they’re hundreds of miles away. It is, after all, at our fingertips.
Go ahead. Go make that call. Say Hi. Talk. Laugh. Even just for 5 minutes.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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