Many years ago, a baby boy came into this world. But unfortunately, he didn’t come with a cry, which was a big problem from the medical point of view. The doctor, tough and quick, turned the baby upside down and slapped his bottom sharply. The baby cried, and he survived. At that moment, the father yelled at the doctor, “Why did you hit my baby?” He did not realize that the doctor had saved the baby’s life. The baby cried and cried, and the father smiled and silently cried as well. He held the baby in his arms and did not allow the doctor to touch the baby anymore…
Contest chair, ladies and gentlemen, that baby was me, and that man was my dad. Whenever my mom told people this story, I would always laugh aloud, and my dad would just shake his head and smile quietly.
Dad never tried to hug or kiss me when I was a child. And of course, he never said “I love you” to me, either. Maybe it’s a Chinese cultural thing, or maybe that’s the way my dad was. But whenever I felt defeated, sad or lonely, dad was always there. Dad was a man of few words, but I always liked to talk to him, and I could always feel a very special connection to him.
As I got older, I had a huge crush on a girl. She was tall and beautiful, with long hair. One day, I walked up to her and blurted out, “you are so beautiful baby. I love you so much. Please be my wife!” She was afraid and ran away with tears in her eyes. She told my teacher, and my teacher was so angry that she made me stay after school, and called my dad to take me home. My first love was over, and that year I was 7 years old.
On the way home, dad was very quiet. It seemed that nothing had happened. Finally I broke the silence and asked him, “Daddy, did I do something wrong?” Dad paused for a while as he always did and said quietly, “Son, you did nothing wrong, except that it’s too early for you to pursue girls.” “Daddy, do you think I could marry a tall and beautiful girl with long hair when I grow up?” I asked. Dad gave me one of his rare laughs and said, “Of course you could. You are so handsome! Just like your handsome father.” For the first time, I realized that dad had a sense of humor, although he was always quiet.
When I was in high school, dad retired and set up a food stand on the street near my school. Dad was very good at making fried noodles, and a lot of people liked his noodles. Every day when I finished school, my classmates and I would pass his food stand. But I really hated talking to dad in front of his food stand, because I did not want my classmates to know that my dad was selling noodles on the street!
One night, I couldn’t stand it any more and shouted, “Dad, could you stop selling your stupid noodles? I don’t need a father who sells noodles on the street!” At that moment, dad was shocked. He tried to say something but didn’t. When he turned his head away, something happened that I had never seen and would never forget for the rest of my life. His eyes were filled with tears and sadness. It was the first time that I saw dad crying. My mom later told me that dad was selling noodles to save money for my college education. I was such an idiot, and even today I still feel guilty for that night.
Time really flies. I finished college and then left my home city. For the past ten years, whenever I’ve visited home, dad was always there meeting me and seeing me off quietly at the railway station. Whenever he saw me off, he never tried to hug me or touch me, although I always expected a father’s hug. When I was away from home, dad never wrote or called me, but he always pushed my mom to call me. Whenever mom was calling me, dad would sit beside her with a list of questions. He would instruct mom to talk to me for him. That’s the way dad is, and that’s how dad shows his love to me.
I was married three years ago. Dad was very happy for me. And now he likes to tell people that his daughter-in-law is tall and beautiful, with long hair…
Dad is still quiet, but I still feel a connection. Ladies and gentlemen, when a connection is deep and powerful, it lives in a place far beyond words, and it becomes something special—“a silent father’s love.”
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