My dad’s birthday is coming up and he turns 72 this year. Alhamdullilah, his health is still well (despite a few stents in his arteries). His mind is also still strong, intellect and wisdom very much in tact and sense of humour very well alive.
In celebration of that, I thought of writing down as many things I can remember that my dad has told or taught me throughout my life. He is a force to be reckoned with, and many of these quotes are a result of his life ideologies rooted in discipline, security, modesty and purpose. I eventually saw the wisdom behind what he said and they have become sort of a guide to my adulthood.
10 of my favourite sayings:
1. Your hard work is not my hard work
I once complained that I had tried my very best to prepare for an exam but still did not get an A. He said this very line to me then walked away. I was reminded of his academic accomplishments and the level of perseverance he said he had given in order to succeed. I guess it was no match, so I stopped complaining.
2. In every career, you need a hard skill to fall back on
We have disagreed many times on what a career should be like in today’s world due to generational differences but one thing I agree on is that having a skill is necessary to compete in today’s aggressive job market.
3. There are some risks in life not worth pursuing
There were so many times he had said this to me but the best reference I can remember was when I wanted to travel alone. There was also a time he said “I don’t know what I would do if you got lost. I would never forgive myself” and I think I knew what he was trying to say.
4. You can’t own a car and not know basic car maintenance
Before owning my own car, I used my dad’s. And that’s literally what I did, I just used it. But he noticed that I did not bother to learn how to care for the car, how to fill the tyre pressure or water in the radiator. Maintenance was a cost and he wanted me to understand it.
5. You can travel when you have your own money
Continuing on from #3, my dad hardly let me travel when I was younger. I know he was actually concerned about security, but he said this instead. It didn’t matter which he was more concerned with, but I did come to appreciate the need to fund my own expenses.
6. Don’t you get tired going out all day?
I’m not sure if its him or a traditional parent thing, but my parents don’t like it when I go out all day. In fact my dad once warned me not to treat the house as a hotel. I was quite shocked because I never saw it that way. He taught me to treasure the abode that he had built for us.
7. In the kingdom of God, there is no democracy
I ask a lot of questions about Islam. My dad generally tolerated this but there was one thing he continuously reminded, which was that in God’s universe, it’s His way. The servant obeys the Lord.
8. “To be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child” – Cicero
This must be his favourite quote (or one of many) because he has cited this so many times over the years. Dad is a history buff and he loves to read. He values past lessons and would probably agree that today’s society has produced a lot of ‘children’. Every time I ask him about historic events, this is what he would say. I had no choice but to then google.
9. If you have $1, use 80 pence and save 20, you are rich
I can’t find the original quote but I believe this was said by either an economist or an investor. The quote basically says that if you use all the money you earn, you’re left with nothing. But if you manage to save even a small amount from the little you already have, you will eventually become rich.
10. We are a family rich in ideas
I remember this vividly because I was about 13. My friend at school asked me “Are you rich?” and I didn’t know how to respond. I went back home and asked my dad and he looked a bit confused but he eventually said “We’re not rich in money, we’re rich in ideas” meaning, we have lots of great ideas and knowledge that we share collectively and that is more meaningful than having money. I hardly bought it, I was sure we had money! But I knew he didn’t want me to grow up arrogant. His answer humbled me.