How to tell papa the family loves him

How to tell papa the family loves him

My father had a heart attack last month. It came as a sharp pain in his back, so intense that it woke him up at 3am.

He was warded for more than a week at Singapore General Hospital, where he went for an angioplasty twice.

The first one failed as doctors could not drill through the calcium build-up clogging his artery. The second time, they pushed it to the side and inserted two stents there.

My dad has a history of heart problems, made worse by a smoking habit picked up when he was just 11.

Seeing him looking subdued on the hospital bed with a giant bruise on his right inner thigh from the procedure, my family decided it was time to get him to quit smoking.

One night, while my dad was still in hospital, my older brother threw all the lighters, ashtrays and cigarette packs, including unopened ones, down the rubbish chute.

We have to be very firm with papa, we can't let him smoke anymore, said my brother, a smoker himself, who has not smoked at home since then.

When my dad got home, my brother and I told him, sometimes impatiently, that he must not smoke anymore.

It is very serious, you might just die, we said.

Things were fine for the first week and we didn't see him smoke at home.

But we knew he was probably still smoking when he was at his favourite hangout, a kopitiam in Chin Swee Road.

So we kept nagging him to stop. By the second week, he got annoyed. He would snap at us and tell us to keep quiet.

He has a fiery temper and a booming voice and can make a room go quiet with his piercing stare.

Sometimes, when chatting with my friends on the phone in my room, they would ask me to lower the volume of the television.

Err, that's my dad talking in the living room, I would say.

So when he shouted at us to stop nagging, we did just that.

And even when I smelt cigarette smoke in the bathroom and when my brother caught him lighting up in the corridor, we kept quiet.

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