There is this man, who is pretty interesting, wildly intelligent – a mathematical genius. He is of average height, on the skinny side, with a head of short grey messy hair. He studied at Caltech and completed his PhD in two years where he wrote his thesis on the Analysis and Control of Quasi Distributed Parameter Systems. He then went on to work for NASA in its Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has written a collection of books, most recently, on the topic of aeronautical engineering as a complement to the WIG Aircraft he is currently engineering to ‘change the world’. He is frustratingly stubborn and opinionated, with a fiery temper, and sometimes finds that his intellect undermines any attempt at social cognition.
Sometimes when he was growing up, he would abandon every hard-taught principle of obedience, eventually abandoning his home and family altogether for a foreign country. Once, while his siblings studiously practiced their scales, he climbed out the window and ran away for the afternoon because he didn’t want to. He kind of cast himself in his own soliloquy, with a really unreceptive audience. He thought no one understood him because he was never embraced. He is met with strong disdain from his older brother and younger sister, and his mother likes to shake her head a lot. But his father, though he never wants to admit it, secretly supports his rebellion. All the same, there is a humble acknowledgement to his family on the second page of his thesis.
He chooses to only wear clothes and miscellaneous items that he acquires for free. This includes a collection of old shirts his sons have since outgrown, his daughter’s junior school backpack, items he might find on the road side or unused at a friend’s place. Most characteristically are the shirts he gets from bankers- a community in which his unique wardrobe has rendered him famous! His most iconic shirt is from J.P. Morgan, with a green collar, white bodice, the same green lining the sleeves, and a defining hole right above the J.P. Morgan logo sewn into the breast.
If you go into his bedroom, you might wonder why half the windows in the room are missing their curtains. Well, this is because there are no neighbors on one side, so there is no apparent need to spend money on extra material. Conveniently, no alarm clock is needed because the five am sunrise is free (for everyone, including his ex-wife).
He doesn’t believe in funerals, by measure of utility. He never showed up to his father-in-law’s funeral and would not let his youngest son attend because he had a junior high school exam. He does make these decisions with the best intentions; though sometimes misses the bigger picture. He cannot seem to maintain sophisticated emotional relationships and thus he finds himself invariably empty.
Sometimes people don’t really understand him, they judge him. In Asia, his original home, it is still apparent that his temperament does not bode too well with most classical conservatives. His indifference towards the collective opinion was probably the origin of his rebellion, that burning desire to be the non-conformist because he doesn’t understand the logic of conformists. ‘Rational behavior’ is otherwise, irrational.
Ah, it seems never ending that he must go on living a life misunderstood! Fortunately, he has some rare but like-minded friends who relate dearly to him. Fortunately, he has some people who will always understand his idiosyncrasies. I, for example, understand him more than he knows because after all, he is my father.