Tuesday, September 13, 2005


6 months after Dad's passing, we've yet to clear out his collection of books and papers. Mom says she's got rid of some with my sister's help. But there's just too much. "He packed dozens of boxes into the lorry when we moved down from Alor Star," Mom mutters. "He never threw anything away."

I don't know what to make of the stuff he's accumulated through the years: half-used and yellowed exercise books, threadbound textbooks - now shapeless - that date back to the early 60s, class magazines belonging to my sister, old letters, stencilled leaflets and flyers from forgotten events, minutes from church committee meetings from the 70s, old LIFE magazines, my old class certificates, a handbook on swine and poultry diseases (Dad was a veterinary assistant), a tattered book on chemistry for highschool, kindergarten readers. The list goes on.

Dad was a hoarder, possibly bordering on an obsessive-compulsive complex. And I am not just referring to books, papers, and magazines. He put away broken tools, containers, strings, nuts and bolts. Like the handyman he was always using throwaway materials to fix faucets and electrical appliances.

I tore open some boxes and rummaged through their musty contents as silverfish scuttled away. Pulled out this history book, and brushed the dust off its pockmarked cover. First published in 1955, it says on the inside. I'm not sure if Dad bought it or if it was a gift. As a child of 7 or 8 without a TV at home, it was one of my favourite books and ticket to worlds and epochs I could only imagine. Rome and Carthage. Genghiz Khan. Napoleon and Alexander. Vikings and Valhalla. Dark Ages and Crusades. Inventions and discoveries. "This one you should keep," Mom said as I took the book out to show the boys. Yes, this one I'll take home. Mom knows there's more than a bit of Dad in me.

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