You know, I always thought that as a child, I suffered the most. Recently I found out, every one of my siblings, thinks they suffered the most. With 4 children and countless babies (mom babysits until I was in my 20s), my childhood was always like an organized chaos. There was never a moment of silence. You learn to navigate through the noise and pressure and people around you, but yet I always longed to be alone.

Source: Yaamuna Aldragen

My dad and me hanging out and having tea at a roadside stall back home in Malaysia

My father is a man beyond his years. In his 20s, he got married to my mom, by the time he was 32, he had 5 additional mouths to fill. He worked two jobs, and studied in the night to get certified in certain fields of his work. We kept moving cities and houses as my dad was changing jobs frequently, as he was getting better at what he did. I learnt to enjoy the process of learning from him.

I cannot imagine how the world looked like to him then. What must he have been thinking and telling himself? I remembered an incident clearly when I was an eight-year-old child. A young man, a neighbor of ours, took his own life away. My dad sat us all together and started telling us some inspirational stories. Stories about how we need to stay strong. No matter what happens around us. We have to stay positive, think positive.

He said:“There’s always another option, there is always another choice. Always remember that.”

Even though I did not know what those words meant back then, I just remembered them as they seemed important. I remembered that day, clear as day. We were scared and starting to feel what the real world our there is about. My dad’s soothing voice and caring hugs warmed our hearts away.

Throughout my whole life, I see my dad nurturing us, our neighbors, uncles, aunts, cousins, strangers. Anyone who needs help, my dad goes to an arm’s length to help them out. Whatever he can; Money, time, effort… anything that he can do to help another person to be their best version of themselves, he does it.

It was uncomfortable to always be around so many people all the time, in our small little house. I did not see the bigger picture like my dad then. I learnt to be kind and helpful from him.

My dad is a man beyond his years. He is the most positive minded, courageous person I have met in my life. He is and will always be, my true inspiration. I am inspired to be kind, and a better person every day. I am inspired to do my best everyday. I am inspired to smile and be joyful every day.

You know, as an adult, I do not think I have suffered the most growing up. You always have an option, you always have a choice, to make your world a better place every day.

Yaamuna Aldragen