My father died a long time ago, so long ago that I can’t even remember the last conversation we had. But that doesn’t stop me from missing him. A few nights ago we met again. We both came to a dream, in color (as most of my dreams are). When I awoke, I knew it had been a dream. But it was vivid and real to me, albeit played out in a different paradigm.
The unplanned but much welcomed rendezvous took place in a long staircase leading to a train station. The flight went up and down a hill and the station was at the bottom of it. As time was quite difficult to measure in the subconscious, I couldn’t tell you how long it took us to walk the steps, but we were there for a long time. I didn’t mind because I was with my dad. I felt safe and I was happy. He looked like he was about fifty years old. I must be about ten then. I think we talked quite a bit, but I couldn’t recall any of it when I woke up.
What do I remember the best about my dad? Academically he was an erudite person, well versed in biology, agricultural science and Chinese literature. But those were tangible qualities one could learn from school. He had something else, something rare. He had … class. Class to some people means elite – i.e., power and wealth, which he lacked in all his living years. What he had was class as in character. He was gentle, kind, and he had a lot of pride and dignity.
He and my mother were the owners of a fairly big farm for many years in the then backwaters of Hong Kong, in a place called Wang Chou （横洲）, during which time I had never seen him act like a tough boss to the hired hands. (That might partially explain why the business was not making money.) His affection of people crossed over to animals too. He would take in stray dogs and keep them, feed them like his own. One of them, an adopted mutt named zi lai (自来), got into a fight with other animals outside the farm and was fatally injured. Dad carried him home like a child and buried him. Many years later, when Dad knew financially there was no more blood to lose from the farm, he started to look for a teaching job for supplemental income. He later turned down an offer of a principalship for a grade school. When family and friends asked him why he did that, he said he already took a teacher’s position with another grade school. That was a promise he had made and he had to keep it, he said. That all happened in summer time before school started.
Dad didn’t tell me in the dream the winning numbers for the next lottery. Neither did he explain the significance of the stairs and the trains. I may someday figure that out. I may not. It doesn’t matter. I was just glad to see him.
Dad, come talk to me soon when you have time.
*** The End ***
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