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Pseudo-sibling indignance?

I am in a bit of a quandary.

I'm not sure how I feel.

And I'm not even sure if it is appropriate for me to feel this way.

I feel I need to break it down and analyse it to even begin to understand it.

My father is a good, honest, and loving man who care than anything has an affinity towards helping people who he feels are deserving - good, honest people who need a leg up from whatever difficult circumstances life has handed them. He befriends them, procures their services if they have any, buys their products if they sell any, visits them on trips and even takes them along some, takes them in and gives them a sense of 'home' during the holidays, and a myriad other things. Such is my father.

There have been many that he has gone through the process with, but there are a few that stand out.

One was a school clerk from KL.

One worked for JAL in KLIA.

More recent was an Indonesian odd-jobs worker who was also a traditional massage therapist.

Another was a nice young man, who befriended him on friendster a while ago. This young man had lots of potential, but was financially limited to better himself. He came from a broken family. I shall name this person W.

And most recent, another young man, from a broken family. A very religious young man, working in KL, who had been very insistent in wanting to befriend my father on Facebook. After a long period of deliberation, my father finally relented. And thus began this young man's rather intimate involvement of the workings of my family. In this post I focus on this particular person, and the interesting dilemma that he has presented to me. I shall name this person as Z.

My father is a professor in one of Malaysia's top public universities (incidentally the same university where I also work). He is considered to be one of the top people in his field, and is a venerated figure in the university. People generally call him 'Prof'. To be able to call him anything else is usually an honor and a privilege. Why this piece of information is important is because the top 3 people that I mentioned above call him 'Abang', which is a term of respect that literally means 'Elder Brother' (even though one of them is around my age). However, the latter two call him 'Abah', which literally means 'Father'. Normally this term of respect is only privileged to a person's sons and daughters, and no one else.

I guess this is where it starts for me.

W first made his public appearance in my family's life around 4 years ago, when he stayed at our house for my sister's wedding. He was a shy person, and never really made his presence felt in the house. After my father had briefed us on his condition, of his lack of family, and how it would mean a lot to him if we could make him feel welcome, my heart started going out to W. It took a bit of getting used to, but after a while, I would try to make the effort of taking him out to the shops to buys things for the wedding, and we would talk for a bit. And that was the last I physically saw of him. I knew that he regularly kept in touch with my father, and occasionally sent me a text asking me how I was. And that was it. Later on when everyone got connected on Facebook, I would see him sometimes commenting on my father's posts, and taking on the role of the 'pleasant relative'. I had no problems with this arrangement whatsoever. In fact I hold some affection for him.

Now Z, on the other hand, somehow posed a different challenge. I have never met Z, as his affiliation with my father started when I was already here in New Zealand. Initially I wondered who this Z was, as I kept getting Facebook friendship requests from him. Incessantly. I asked my father, and he replied that it was some random person on Facebook, but seemed like an ok person. With that assurance, I accepted his friend request. And thus began the flood of 'likes' in my notifications that you wouldn't believe. He would 'like' EVERYTHING that I posted. A random comment. A photo. A link. Pretty soon I had enough and just shielded all my posts from him, though I still kept him in my friend list. But that was only the beginning. Soon after I saw the relationship change between Z and my father. I began to see his posts more frequently. I began to see him at my siblings' homes in the Facebook pictures. And one day, I saw in his postings Z referring to my father as 'Abah', and my father referring to him as 'son'.

You can imagine what that must have felt like for me.

I'm not sure why it hit me harder than it did with W. Maybe that with W it was because he kept a respectable distance, and knew his place. I think he knew that he had a special relationship with my father, and a family-like link to my father's children, and that was enough for him. He didn't feel the need to expound it, to shout aloud for the whole to see.

Now with Z, it was a different story. He made sure his presence was felt in the family. He would 'like' every Facebook post. He would comment on virtually everything that my father posted. And the comments would sometimes be of rather affectionate (as a doting son would be affectionate) overtones, even on posts that were seen publicly. I don't know why, but this was where I began to get uncomfortable. This was no more the 'pleasant relative' who sent regards from afar, as in the case with W. This was more full on 'I am now family'. And I don't know what to make of it.

Now I know that Z isn't bad. In fact I know he is a good person, and for my father to give him that much attention, he must be. I know that he comes from a broken home, with parents and siblings who couldn't care less. In fact, he requested my family to fill in the place of the groom's family in his wedding recently. My family took the role of his family in its entirety.

And I know that he is a good man because he gave my parents and my in-laws abode when before and after they visited us in New Zealand. He helped my father buy a car. He helped drive my father to long distance destinations so that my father could have a better rest traveling.

In short, he did the things that a good son does.

And yet, I feel uneasy.

I know that it means a lot to my father if I could open up to Z, as Z was starved of family love and support in the past. Yes, Z is a good man. I know that too.

But I'm only human, I guess.

Some things just don't come that easy.


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