On August 31 1956 Malayan Railwayman David Colundasamy Aloysius John had a heart attack and died. He was 47. He missed Merdeka Day by exactly a year, so never got to see the country of his birth gain independence from Britain. He also missed my third birthday by 24 days. So I grew up knowing little of the man who was my father. I can’t describe the sound of his voice or the look on his face when he was happy, sad or furious. I don’t know if he sang in the bathroom like I do. What I do have are some small black-and-white photographs of my father that I have looked at again and again as a child, growing up and as an adult and brought with me to Singapore after I moved from Kuala Lumpur in 1980.