At the end of the day, Lord, I pray I have a life that’s good.
I am half Mauritian by background, and I have always been so proud of that. People always asked “what are you mixed with?” and came up with suggestions like Spanish or Italian based on my look and name I suppose. I was always so happy to reply “my dad is from Mauritius”, knowing that it will surprise them for a second before they enquired where Mauritius actually was.
For a time I didn’t even know where Mauritius was, or what it even looked like. My dad arrived in the UK by boat at the juvenile age of 16 with his brother and his father. The rest of his family had to stay back in Mauritius so that my father, uncle and grandfather could earn enough money to pay for the journey of their family across the sea.
I don’t know much about the life my dad lived before he met my mum. My mum was only 22 at the time and she has spent most of her life with him. She’s the talker, she’s the one who would tell the stories, but my dad, I suppose I never really asked about his life before my mum and us. I regret not knowing, because I believe he has had an extraordinary life.
I hear the stories from my aunts and uncles, even my eldest cousins who knew my dad before my mum did. They speak of someone who doesn’t quite fit the personality or the profile of my dad. I didn’t think so until now, when I can reflect back on my time with him and see what a wonderful man he is.
My family would talk of fierce protection, intellect, strive, boxing and university. I saw my dad as some of those but didn’t really feel that he embodied the love that was typical of a father. Now I know that the love was there the whole time, he just showed it in a different way.
My Dad finds it difficult to say things how they are I think. It’s like he’s thinking about it and wondering whether to reply, make it a learning opportunity or challenge. It would always bother me and I would end up flustering in out loud conversation when he was sharing all his thoughts in his head, keeping quiet.
So he didn’t speak a whole lot. I remember him teaching and offering solutions. I remember him on his laptop all the time faffing over taxes and isas and spreadsheets full of information that only made sense to him. Most of the time I left him to it, I was a kid, a teenager.
He gave us everything though, after he gave his first family everything. What did he do for himself? I don’t believe he did anything for himself but provide the best possible life for the rest of us, and what a beautiful person to do that.
He never asked for anything, my dad. He has asked for help in the last few years and resentfully we have kept him going but I can’t say I have ever done something to make him really happy. I feel so bad about this. I need the opportunity now to do so but he lays in a hospital bed 40 minutes away and unable to have visitors. A lot of my day, I don’t think about him at all, when he deserves to be the thing I think about all the time.
I am so proud to be his daughter, and I am so proud of being a part of his extraordinary life and story. A lot of people won’t care because they don’t know him and that’s fair enough. I don’t mind that, because he is mine. I won’t go on to share his whole story on here, because it would go on forever, he is that special. He started in Mauritius and is now here in the UK. Does he wish he was back there or does he call us and this “home”? Lord, I pray I have a life that’s good, a life that is as wonderful as his, but keep me humble and selfless just like my father.