Illustrations by Ng Weng Chi

 

I want to tell you a story. One of courage, compassion, fear and cowardice.

It is about how my dad fought pirates.

My father would relate this story often to my friends. Making the same exclamations and the same hand gestures for dramatic effect. He wouldn’t miss a beat on the story because it happened during a significant time for him—a time of great struggle. This period had taught him many great things and telling this story was his way of passing his own life morals to others.

In a nutshell, my father is in the shipping business. Buying and selling boats, he is a person made of suits, glasses, old-Chinese-cinema honour and old-fashioned perceptions of integrity. He would come across almost like a stereotyped Asian father. Protective, firm, proud of his work, and most of all, endearing in unexpected ways. But like any long-time entrepreneur, his stories and life experiences run deep.

It was a tough year for anyone. Economy was down and business was just not going well for anyone. But my dad finally got a buyer. The ship was ready to be moved from the origin of production down to the determined destination. It would take about four months and a few days for the whole journey. The trip was smooth sailing and everything seemed to work out perfectly.

But on the last day of travel, my father got a call. The ship, and its crew, were caught by pirates.

My dad lifted his hand and smacked it on his forehead. “Oh shit. What do we do now?”