My father was critical but humane, fierce but compassionate, sarcastic but gentle, silly but brilliant, stubborn but loyal, but most of all he was passionate.
Behind the cynical facade, my father was one of the kindest, warmest and most giving men I ever met. I vividly remember him getting me dressed for school everyday (militarily), asking me what I wanted to eat for lunch religiously (until I was 26!), never telling me to study because to him exams were for idiots, having serious chats with me without ever looking me in the eye (those of you who know him personally will relate), speaking to me logically in the most most illogical situations, pushing me to excel just to be worthy of being his daughter and mostly for being my ultimate reference.
Last time I saw Papa was late 2005. We spent a week together in Pretoria. Somehow I felt he didn't want to lose a minute, he introduced me to my South African family and friends, gave me advice on relationships, life and tennis, he even taught me his famous curry recipe. On my way back, I called my mother from the airport crying and I told her I knew it would be the last time I ever saw my father. Unfortunately, I was right. I was always told by him that 'life isn't fair', I never really understood what that meant until he left me. I wish I had seen him one last time, I wish I had told him what a hero he was in my eyes, I wish he had known how loved and admired he was. To me he will always remain Papa, Archie Mafeje, the man who got on the pedestal and never fell down.