Thursday, March 08, 2012

Let me tell you about my father, my no.1 fan

Today is my father's birthday. He would have been 79 this year, if he was still alive. But he passed away 10 years ago this coming May.

Pappa was a huge influence on me  as a writer. While he had a dream career for me ( to become a doctor/scientist), he was also a very flexible individual who didn't buy into the stereotypical concepts of being a man and fatherhood. He was actively involved in our lives and our career development, not as a distant father figure but someone you could bounce your ideas on and he would help you to come to a sound decision. Most importantly, he didn't force his kids to do what he wanted.Instead he supported all of us to do what we're best suited for and makes us happy. And he worked like 3 dogs to help us realise our dreams.

So when it emerged when I was 19 years old that I wanted to pursue a writing career fulltime ( inconveniently during my third year at varsity doing a BSc, I might add), he was very supportive. Firstly, he told all the critics in our village and social circle to leave me alone. We both acknowledged that I was practically throwing away a Science degree ( and a career where I would have a good job and lots of respect from people in our village)  to embark on a career that notoriously did not pay well and would probably get me labelled as madwoman (creatives did not fit very well in this society). But he was willing to give me the opportunity to try.

And throughout my early career, he was my first reader, my best critic and my best supporter. I shared my writing processes with him  and he told me when a story didn't work for him. We argued word usage, plot and characterisation.  Sometimes I'd get stuck unable to find the right word and I'd phone him to ask. He was a busy man, running a number of businesses, but he was never too busy to take my calls and answer my  writing-related questions.

He bought me my first desktop computer in 1989, so that I had a good machine to write with. Those were the days when Multimate was the wordprocessing software of choice.  As you can imagine, in those days, computers were an expensive luxury. My family was not rich, so that investment had to bite. Yet he made this investment, making sure I was well-equipped to tackle my new career. When he passed away, I inherited his collection of English classic novels,which he said would provide me with further guidance and inspiration to write.

There are times, like today, when I wish he was here to see his faith in me vindicated. I want to show him that I do continue to be published. Thankfully, he lived long enough to see me get published a number of times. I also wish he could see  that I am able to support myself well from my writing, setting aside the big of how I was going to live seeing my career choice did not guarantee a decent income. But I think he already knows all of that and is very happy for me. Anyway, happy birthday Pappa. Ke leboga go menagane!

P.S. That sentence that you did not understand means, "I offer my thanks many times over" in my language.

6 comments:

po said...

Wow, your dad sounds amazing. It is so rare that a parent steps down and lets a child follow an unconventional path.

And it was like he could see the future, because Science is a terrible profession to be in, there are so few jobs and so badly paid that most have to switch careers anyway. I honestly believe you are much better off as your own employer. I would never ever encourage a child to become a Scientist, unless it was a mad passion of theirs. Your Dad was wise!

Damaria Senne said...

Thanks PO. And you're right. Many of my classmates ended up making career changes and their current jobs / businesses don't even resemble anything we started out with.

PJ said...

Happy birthday, Pappa of Damaria.Thank you for the good friend that you and her mother created for all of us.

tiah said...

What a lovely tribute you have written to a man you clearly love and admire.

Unknown said...

Good parents make all the difference. I had great parents who supported me and bragged about it when I said what I wanted to be when I grew up. They did that for my siblings, as well. We all followed our dreams, and we're all doing exactly what we wanted to do.

You had an amazing dad, Damaria. What a great champion to have in your corner!

Unknown said...

Good parents make all the difference. I had great parents who supported me and bragged about it when I said what I wanted to be when I grew up. They did that for my siblings, as well. We all followed our dreams, and we're all doing exactly what we wanted to do.

You had an amazing dad, Damaria. What a great champion to have in your corner!

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