The greatest gift you can give others and yourself is time
'N' level student-inmate from institution TM1
“Daddyyy! I was greeted by the still wave and laughter of my ten years old daughter as I enter house. She ran towards me and wrapped her arms and around my waist, the impact almost makes me fall on my back. I glared at my watch and saw it was five minutes to midnight." "Why are you still awake Rozelle?" I asked. She looked up at me with beady eyes and replied, "I've missed you daddy. I cupped my hands on her puffy checks, kissed her forehead and brought her to her room to put her to sleep.
Just then, my wife stood by my daughter's room shaking her head and said, "this has got to stop".
"What does?" I replied innocently and her face went red as a beetroot."
"You coming home late from work!” She replied harshly before into the bedroom, slamming the door shut.
The next morning, I woke up to the smell of confectionary. Sleep still clutches to me; I lifted my head and was shocked by the pink interior walls. I realised then that I had fallen asleep in my daughter’s room. After performing my obligations, I went into the living room to join my wife and daughter. The moment my wife saw me, she went straight into the kitchen and later returned with a birthday cake. She placed the coke in front of our daughter and said, "make a wish Rozelle". "I wish I get to spend more time with Daddy", whispered my daughter, thinking it would be inaudible to us. My wife lifted her gaze from our daughter and looked at me. I pretended not to notice. After wishing my daughter, I grabbed my work and headed for the house door. "Will you be home late again?" my wife asked." "Yes dear", I replied. As soon as the door closed, tears rolled down my wife’s cheeks as she held at our family picture to her chest. Rozelle came up to her and wiped the tears away and said “Don’t cry, mummy”. They then sat there embracing each other.
When I reached my workplace, I saw stacks of files piled up high on my desk. Exhaustion crept up on me and I quickly brushed it aside. I repeated the chant in my mind that would always serve to motivate my family, for the best. My job has never been easy for me. Despite being the best employer and the myriad of hours sacrificed on overtime, I often got berated by my boss, always pressuring me to work harder and longer. He has not once shown appreciation for the culmination of my work.
"Ouchhh!" I yelped. I had gotten papercut while handling the papers. I sighed, laid back on my chair, and decided for a short respite. I looked out the window and saw the sky was dark and grey clouds loomed ominously. I obverted my gaze to my daughter’s picture on my desk and my heart pounded as a terrible premonition gripped me. Without wasting any time, I swiftly packed my things and went straight home.
When I reached home, my wife was already in the living room staring out the window with her arms folded. When she sense my presence, without turning, she spoke," Rozelle’s teacher called and I had to fetch her from school": She told me what had transpired and I was shocked to learn that my daughter had been dozing in class, her grades fluctuating and worst of all, she had an outburst today. My daughter had cried and the informed her teacher that she felt weak due to not eating and sleeping well and that she misses me very much. Guilt and trepidation shot through me.
“This is on you.” my wife said.
“How is this my fault?” I retorted, taken back by her accusation. “I had worked hard, earning more money so I could lavish you and Rozelle anything the both of you desire.”
“Who told you I seek riches? All I ever wanted was the man I felt in love with. The man that was there for his wife and daughter”, said my wife.
“But you guys deserve much more”, I replied. My voice dripping with object misery. My wife turned to face me, eyes red from crying, “the greatest gift you can give others is time” she said, before going into the bedroom. I was left standing alone.
Three months had passed, and I had heed my wife's advice and chose to spend more time with my family instead of work. My family and I were at the beach. I was sitting on the picnic table, enjoying the view of my wife and daughter playing together by the sea. There was a man sitting on the picnic table just next to me. Coincidentally, we obverted our gaze and looked at each other. He smiled and said, "You have a beautiful family, you are most fortunate." He had deep lines on his forehead from too much frowning and behind the smile, I could see he was sad.
"Thank you, it hasn't always been like this, but I am grateful”, I replied. He came to me and we had a little chat. He told me his stories and I could relate to them. When I looked at him, he reminded me of myself back then. “My friend, I could relate to your stories as I was once in your shoes. But the greatest gift you can give others and yourself is time”, I advised him. My daughter had called me to join her. I excused myself after both of us had thanked each other. I jogged my way to my daughter, in my heart, hoping that my advice would help him and be passed forward to those who need them.