Growing up we had our little dysfunctional family. Just my Mum, brother and I, against the world and against each other sometimes too. I remember spending days with my friend’s families and wondering why the rest of our family wasn’t around us. Why didn’t I have two Grandma’s, more Aunty’s and Uncles, Nieces and nephews, cousins and of course why didn’t my dad want to meet me?
I knew exactly where all my family were and I knew why I didn’t see them but for whatever reason, I always used to wonder what it would be like to have a big family. What it would be like to have all of my family close by, visit them for dinner or go to the cinema with them. How different birthdays and Christmas would be, what would I be like if I had a bigger family?
My family was a mystery. I didn’t know them and they didn’t know them. I would still call my Dad, Dad. I would still call my Grandma, Grandma but they were just a voice I heard over the phone on special occasions. Their faces were pictures my mum had shown me, their voices echoed to the connection tune and they didn’t have personalities. Voices from a far advising me on how to live my life.
One day my Dad rang and said he couldn’t get hold of my brother. He wasn’t happy with me because my brother had told him I smoked and was not planning on going to University. He moaned and I didn’t listen, brushing his complaints under the rug because I knew better. This time I didn’t tell the mystery on the other side of the phone that I love him to the other side of the universe and back.
The next day I got a call from a stranger… another voice on the phone. I didn’t recognise the voice but it had a similar accent to my Dad. The voice told me she was my Aunty and my mystery voice wasn’t going to be calling anymore. I could no longer dream that my Dad would knock on our door on my Birthday or Christmas or ever. There would be no more daydreams about meeting my mystery for the first time. He would not be there to give me away when I get married. He would not be a mystery grandad on the phone to my children.
My Dad was Sri Lankan and he lived in Sri Lanka all of his life. I never got to meet him in person but he was still my Dad. He loved and cared for me from afar. He was a mystery and his life was a mystery but to me, my Dad was my day dream.
It’s now 2017 and I am in Sri Lanka finally putting faces and personalities to the mystery family I never knew. I did graduate University as my Dad had wished and I achieved a 2:1 whilst working four jobs and only sleeping for one hour. I moved to the other side of the world and found my own way to happiness.
Now I look back to my old daydreams and know, if I had everything I had wished for, I would not have achieved half as much as I have. If I had had my family close by, I wouldn’t be as functional, independently. Would I even be the same person? I don’t think so.
Now I am here in my dad’s homeland, in my dad’s house, walking the streets he walked, seeing the things he loved, meeting the friends he cared for, hearing the stories he told and tasting the food he eats. I know a big part of me was missing but now I can stop daydreaming. I can move on. I can live my life. My mystery family is no longer a mystery but I don’t feel like my family has changed… it’s still my Mum, Brother and I, and that’s all I need.
Note: The image used for this post is not my own, I was unable to find the name of the photographer.