A Tribute to ‘Bapak’ (Dad)

Hj Jasmani Abdul Gani, who just turned 67, is relieved that his children are all grown up. The now retired mechanic can be seen religiously attending classes at the nearby mosque with other retirees from his area.

Occasionally, he also takes his two grandchildren to the playground and allows them to chase after the neighbourhood cats and birds. He used to do this with his own children as well, often taking them to the beach and little outings, as he always believed that play and fun were vital elements of childhood.

The Generous Father and the Strict Disciplinarian

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Taking after his own father, Hj Jasmani has always been known as a generous and gentle man. Family, friends and even neighbours love him for his kind spirit and generosity, and he has never been short of friends.

Neighbours constantly ask Hj Jasmani’s children how he is doing. In modern Singapore, such neighbourly familiarity is rare, yet the extroverted Hj Jasmani seems to know each of the occupants in his block.

His natural friendliness, nevertheless, did not make him a “push over” as a young father. His sons remember fearing Bapak (Dad) with Emak’s (Mother’s) constant reminding, “You all need to behave when Dad comes home from work or he will whip you.” His only daughter, Siti Jasmah Jasmani, 28, however, remembers a dad who was most kind, as he always would bring something nice whenever he returned home from his shift work, be it a packet of chocolate milk or chicken rice, to be shared by all his children.

In spite of the many mouths he had to feed on a mechanic’s salary, Bapak never failed to buy a small treat to make his children happy; be it some sweets or a neat toy. To this day, he practices this beautiful generosity, by buying gifts of toys and other little trinkets for his much beloved grandchildren, Muhammad Haikal and Muhammad Hafiz.

The Role Model

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Rahmat Jasmani, who is now 32, often looks to him for advice, especially when having to deal with difficult patients at work, “Bapak is my role model. I always look at how Dad interacts with others and how he always manages to charm them over whenever I have to deal with difficult people or relatives.”

Similarly, eldest son, Mohammad Yunus Jasmani, 35, recalls his Dad’s advice whenever he has to deal with difficult customers, “Son, as the main breadwinner, we need to do our work well for it is our responsibility. It is something that you need to do whether you like it or not.”

The jovial 67-year old is a role model to his four children. A benevolent individual and a good father, unconditional in his love and patient in raising his children.

Stroke – Blessing in Disguise

Since his stroke in 2006, his family and loved ones report much positive change in Hj Jasmani. His outlook on life has mellowed, and his priorities have been reoriented towards family first, over work. Both he and those dear to him believe this to be one of the best decisions of his life.

Md Yunus personally feels that the stroke changed Bapak for the better, both in terms of leading a healthier lifestyle, as well as having a more open minded outlook on life. He says, “I can speak more freely to Bapak about anything now.”

The Liberal Malay Dad

Hj Jasmani believes that to lead a successful and meaningful life; one should be in active pursuit of ones’ dreams, even if it means transgressing societal norms.

Most Muslim parents would never permit their single daughters to study and work abroad, yet, his only daughter had been away in Australia, Indonesia and the Middle East for nearly 6 years doing just that.

His youngest son, Md Nabil Jasmani, 18, is currently pursuing an International Baccalaureate Diploma in Theatre at SOTA – a certification program that not only represents a road less travelled, but also carries, in the Malay community, a stigma attached to performing arts.

A Down-to-Earth Man Through and Through

It is clear from his decision-making rationale that Bapak is indeed a down-to-earth-man. He managed to pay for the family home by the time he was 33, on the modest salary he earned as a simple mechanic, and in doing so, he freed his family from the burden of a large debt.

He had always believed that life lived in debt is a life not worth living, and would constantly advise his children to lead simple, but meaningful, lives.

Regrets

To this day, Bapak believes that he had not been a very good son himself as he sometimes regrets not having spent enough time with his own parents before they passed on. Perhaps it is because of this that he spends so much time with his children, imprinting his invaluable wisdom upon them, as they set out on their own journeys through life.

Bapak is an exemplary model Dad to his children because his weaknesses and flaws make him human, and because of his ability to adapt and turn his own banes into learning points. He is, indeed, his children’s Dad for Life.


About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.


First published on 16-11-2012

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Categories: Dads' Stories

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