Imagine if you are a child born because of rape. Your biological father was sent to jail because of that. When he's released years later, he comes back to you and tells you, "I am your father." What will be your reaction? Would you have respected him, purely based on the grounds that he is your father?
I'm not saying that my father did this, I'm merely pointing out that they don't have a reason to demand respect from us only because they have fathered us. If, however, we are looking at the stereotyped father figure, kind, gentle, but strict and firm, loving and a good example, then yes, of course they deserve our respect. That is what I mean by earning respect.
I am, however, talking about this man who is so full of himself that everything is another person's fault, and nothing is his. He always has a way of arguing around everything in his favour. I'm talking about a man who doesn't put his dishes in the washing stand, let alone washing his own dishes, while screaming at us for "not being responsible". I'm talking about a man who wouldn't even lift a finger to save his life when he's not in the mood to help out with the housework. Observe that, in our household, our parents help us with the housework, not the other way round. How very convenient.
Ever since I could remember, he's been involving my brother and I (and later, my sister) in his fights with my mother. We were literally called into the room to witness the fights, or rather, the shouting matches. When he starts shouting, no one dares to make a noise, not even my mother, except to agree with everything he has to say, for fear of infuriating him. If that doesn't speak loudly for terrorising, I don't know what would. He always gives us the impression that he would like nothing better than to rip us limb from limb. OK maybe that was a little too exaggerating. So, to use his own words, "I would have taken a stick and whacked you until you bleed so that you learn not to be funny with me, if not for my self-control (as if)." And, believe me, none of us who has lived with him for all our lives would doubt him. Once, he whacked up my cousin so badly it made her nose bleed (I have no idea if it's broken, it seems like it, but there definitely was blood). The few times when my mother or my brother or I stood up to him, we got whacked up pretty badly too. We therefore learnt our lessons early in life: Never to infuriate him. It is fear, not respect, which keeps us at bay and dictates our actions.
As for his pride, it is another thing that disgusts me. He always complains when other parents boast about their children and says that they're proud fellows. He himself fails to recognise that he, in fact, is also like that. Wherever he goes, he always boasts about the three of us. My brother and I are revolted by his constant exaggeration, but my sister takes it quite cheerfully, her head being emptier than my brother and I (I am not insulting her, merely speaking the truth, for she, being the baby of the family, has long been over-indulged by my parents). For example, when I was in Secondary Two, I achieved second place in my whole form. My father spread around the word that I got first. When I corrected him hastily, he pinched me behind my back, saying, "Don't correct an adult!" I spoke of this to my brother and he told me that my father was also spreading around the news that he was the school badminton champion when he was only the first runner-up. When we tried to tell him this (during one of his brief calm spells), he only countered by saying, "Isn't it a father's right to be proud?"
I bit back the retort that I feel only if his friends asked and he told the truth, then it's more acceptable, rather than go around telling his friends high tales without them wanting to know (and would most probably talk behind his back that he's proud too). There's a huge difference between being proud of one's children and being absolutely arrogant about it.
Often, I would dream of escaping my father's tyrannical clutches. Sometimes, I really don't see the point of living if I'm to be kept under my father's thumb forever and suffer his tyranny (My eldest cousins who are both married are still under his thumb, so it's no wonder that I've only envisioned such a future). Am I able to find it in my heart to respect such a man? Not unless I'm extremely daft, or forgiving.
The only things I'll ever grant him is the fact that he never lets us go hungry, and his behaviour made me think and ponder a lot. But sometimes, when he is in one of his moods, I think that the life I have on earth is dearly bought, every second, every minute. Born in a loveless marriage (I know all about it. Remember that my brother and I are called during all these shouting and have to suffer our ears to the reruns of their pre-marriage and marriage life) and terrorising family, please excuse me if my perception of the world is different.
– Finis –