Personal letters- an authentic form of musings, and reflections, of hopes and dreams, all beautifully crystalised into words. With the journey of fatherhood being such a transformational process (and full of unexpected life lessons!), we invite three famous dads to share their fatherhood experience by penning down one unique letter each. Read on as they share their raw experiences- with the letters below capturing the lessons, mistakes and wishes that are sure to resonate with parents all around.
A Letter to…Myself: Nazrudin Rahman
Eating for a living sounds like the dream job for many of us – something that the popular host of TV3’s Jalan Jalan Cari Makan, Nazrudin Habibur Rahman managed to land himself in! Aside from being a beloved presenter, Nazrudin is also a father to three beautiful children and the loving husband of media personality, Sheahnee Iman Lee.
He shares his beautiful piece about precious lessons learnt along the way, his personal reflections following the passing of his own father, and what advice he would share with his younger self (and our readers):
As I write to you, know that your 3 children are sleeping safe and sound. Our loving wife is making me a cup of coffee, as I prepare to burn the midnight oil. Many years down the road, you’ll find that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Midnight, is still the best time to work.
You know what else won’t change? The struggle to give the best to the people you love. It’s who you will always be. You will hate yourself for it. You will beat yourself up over it, for pouring too much of your heart into your passion. But you will find strength in it.
All I hope for, is for you to not be so hard on yourself.
Yes, I know you inside out. Arwah Dad’s lessons have been ingrained in us. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Precision and perfection in everything we do. 100% or nothing.
And that’s the person you’ll become. Never complacent, no rest for the wicked. Once an achievement is unlocked, it’s always ‘what’s next?’ Always moving forward. You’ll even start making up new ones for yourself – the worst of them would be ‘Sleep is for the weak’, which by the way, is the dumbest standard you can set for yourself.
It will make you rigid and unforgiving. It will rob you of your compassion. It will add to your self-righteous arrogance.
I know what you’re thinking – that you’ll end up just like Dad. I know that for younger Me, that’s the last guy you want to be, but, hear me out.
On the day before his death, God will have mercy and grant you one last day with him. You’ll connect, you’ll say things you’ve never said to him. You’ll hug him too… yes, the man who never quite knew how to show love, will hug you out of the blue. On the day he dies, you will blame yourself for not doing something more. You will feel guilt for all the times you’ve let him down.
You’ll also be shocked to see the mosque full of people you hardly know. Strangers will approach you and tell you what a wonderful man he was, and how he’s helped so many people. Even Mama won’t have a clue of the kind things he’s done. What good deeds he did with his right hand, even his left hand didn’t know.
That was the man you never knew, and this realisation will change your life. That Dad truly lived his principles, even to his detriment. He went against the the order of things and fought for them, especially if there was injustice. And he did it all without fanfare or acknowledgement. He needed no thanks, and was content to just do the right thing.
In the beginning, I tried to raise our family like he did. Father as breadwinner, mummy as general of the house. Now that I’m a father too, only now do I realise just how hard it is to be him. To do the right thing. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll be tempted to take the easy way out. You will fail more than succeed, and you’ll hate yourself for it.
When you find out your son has ADHD, you’ll also finally understand that it runs in the blood. Yes, you are neurodivergent, and you will finally realise why he was so hard on you when you were a kid. Don’t hold it against him, for the realisation will bring resolution. Your children will grow up in a loving environment, and breaking the cycle of stoic silence, begins with you.
You’ll have to learn one day, to forgive yourself. Yeah, yeah, I know: easier said than done, kan?
Knowing you, you’re always trying to be a better man, and I hope this letter will give you the headstart you need.
One day, you will share this journey with your best friend. She will be your rock. She will love you for all of your flaws, for the man you are and the father you strive to be. Your children will also drive you up the wall, just like how we used to drive our parents nuts. And yes, karma will suck.
So, keep your eyes, and your heart wide open, Naz. You’re about to embark on one heck of a ride.
Oh, and one more thing – the next time Dad asks you for help with the car, or the garden, or any DIY project around the house… do it. Because those moments will shape you into a better man. Those will be the best moments you’ll remember, when he’s no more. Don’t live your life with regret.
Happy Fathers Day in advance, Naz. You’ll be ok.
A Letter to… My Children: JJ Fernandez
Many of us would be familiar with the witty wordplay of radio host, JJ Fernandez, brightening up our traffic-ridden morning drives to school or work. Previously on Hitz.FM’s morning crew and hosting a breakfast show with Red FM, JJ is now broadcasting and running his own show as a freelance emcee on his own Radiooh app. He is a father to a 15 year old son and a 12 year old daughter.
Read on for his heartfelt letter to his children:
My dear Jon and Anne,
I’ve loved you from the day you were born. You have taught me so much. More than I can ever teach you. And I’m still learning everyday.
I pray you will always be safe and happy. I pray you will become good people and remember the lessons I taught you – lessons I learnt from my dad.
I know we’re going through some tough times now. It pains me to see you having to understand that, but I will always try to provide what you need. Though I can’t promise I’ll be here for ever, this I promise. I will always love you and be here for you until the day I leave this earth.
Now go and shine, and let the world see your light…and may that light help others to shine too.
A Letter to… My Father: Timothy Tiah
Entrepreneur, Timothy Tiah has won many prestigious awards over his lifetime- from the JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur Award in 2009 to Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year for Malaysia in 2015. He is the Co-Founder of ASX listed Netccentric, a digital media business best known for the blog ad network Nuffnang. His latest endeavour is a joint venture with his blogger wife, Audrey Ooi, famously known as fourfeetnine. This influential couple is now working together as a team on both a professional and personal front- at their luxurious Colony Coworking Space, and at home, as parents to 9-year-old Fighter and 7-year-old Penny.
Timothy reflects on the life lessons he’s learnt from his dad, and the wisdom he continues to apply today:
This Father’s Day, I want to reflect on the lessons you’ve taught me all my life.
- On Business – you’ve taught me that there must always be check and balances, or the temptation to cheat will always prove too great.
- On Humility – you’ve taught me that one must always be humble, for life is full of ups and downs and the people you see on your way down will be the people you saw on your way up.
- On Sports – you’ve taught me that you must always have the best equipment when you play, so that when you lose you have nobody to blame but yourself.
- On Parenting – you’ve taught me that how I treat my parents is how my kids will treat me.
- On Marriage – you’ve taught me that emotions change over time, but responsibilities never do.
- On Religion – you’ve taught me that one can have their own beliefs, but to never impose them on ours.
- On Money – you’ve taught me always to save and invest, because money makes money.
- On Friends– you’ve taught me there are good time friends and all time friends. Learn to recognise who is which.
- On Wealth -you’ve taught me never to flaunt it for jealousy creates enemies.
- On Anger – you’ve taught me that acting on it is always always a mistake.
- And finally on Success – you’ve taught me that it’s not about money. It’s about having people around you who love you.
Thank you to our three super daddies for opening your hearts up and sharing your powerful and poignant reflections with us. We wish all our #pakchics a very Happy Father’s Day- and we truly appreciate all our wonderful partners in parenting out there!