Be You Conversations: My Dad
By: Nicki Patel | 6.17.18
1. father, guardian, protector, friend 2. teacher, mentor, coach, task master, listener 3. sports fanatic, king of corny jokes and crap facts, bank, part-time fun guy, part-time fun police 4. tough on the outside, soft in the middle 5. best dad anyone could ask for
I couldn’t imagine my life without my dad. He is the strongest, most courageous, caring, and understanding human I know. He has sacrificed so much to create a life for himself and a home for his family. He has gone through struggles that no man should have to go through, but has always shown up, stood up, and smiled through it all. He has been my biggest supporter since day 1, and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to call him my own.
My dad was born in Ndola, Zambia in the 50’s. He spent majority of his childhood in Zambia until the age of 14 when his parents sent him to India to further his education. It was common back then in Zambia to send your kids abroad to get a better education, and this is what his parents believed. He spent 4 years there before he moved back home without completing his education. My dad was definitely a trouble-maker, and never a fan of books. Once back in Zambia, he wanted to begin to earn a living so he traveled alone to Hong Kong for about 3 months to learn more about my grandpa, his father’s business, and operations abroad. After that he returned back to Zambia to run my grandpa, his father’s business for about 2 years. It was custom back then to get married early and to have your parents arrange your marriage. At the age of 22, my dad married my mom with barely meeting each other for a few hours. My parents stayed in Zambia, until my mom’s father brought them to America for better opportunity and life as Zambia began to fall with social and political wars. My parents hustled until they were able to own their own hotel where they had my two elder sisters, took care of my dad’s siblings, and my grandparents. My parents worked 15-18 hours a day to keep food on the table and support the family. After sometime, the hotel hit a tough spot, and my father was on the brink of filing for bankruptcy. With his father disavowing him and his hard work, he set out to New Braunfels on his own with merely a few dollars in his pocket and a heart full of courage and strength. He fell in love with the city and purchased a cleaners. He moved with my sisters and mom to the city where I was later born. He hustled and worked with all his might to make sure his family, my sisters and my mom, wouldn’t have to struggle; making sure we always had food on the table and a roof over our head. And even today, at the age of 60+ years, he still works at the cleaners.
What is your favorite food/dish (because I love FOOD)?
My favorite food is Indian food – daar, rice, val shak, and raijta.
What does it mean to you to be you in a world of others?
For me it means making people happy and making them laugh. I find the most joy in helping others and my family. I believe caring about others is more important than caring about yourself.
What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self – about life, career, hopes/dreams, anything?
Never lose faith in yourself.
What would you tell someone who is trying/struggling to find themselves in the chaos/noise of the world?
Find your path, and follow it. There are going to be lots of obstacles, bumps, and competition, but never lose hope, and go with full confidence without any expectations. Never compare yourself with others, and always have faith in yourself and your work.