My maternal grandfather was about seven when his father died of heart attack. He was the youngest of three children whom the two older ones were sisters. Due to traditional culture of males, regardless of age, my grandfather was put in the spotlight as an "elder" of the family.
He had a strong personality and as a result, he became quite dominant over the years. Practically everyone was intimidated of him and never dared to cross him, including his older sisters.
He also had this soft side that hardly showed but when necessary. He used to live in England, in early 1940's, to further his higher education before my mother and her siblings were born. Hence, he had some knowledge of the western culture. Since I was going to move to U.S., he taught me the dining room etiquette as well as good manners.
Anyhow, there was only one person who was hardly scared of him: ME!
One day, a servant came in the house and put fresh washed, starched white shirts on the sofa and left. My grandfather had happened to be mad at me for something I apparently did which I quite do not recall.
Standing in front of him, who seemed tall to an eight-year old, and crossing my arms on my chest, I refused to listen to him.
To his shock, I threw one of his clean shirts to the floor.
"PICK IT UP!", he immediately ordered.
With a defiant look on my face, I shook my head.
At this point, my grandfather started quavering, not believing the situation was happening right in front of him. In his whole life no one had ever defied him and now he was suddenly at loss what to do.
As an adult, my understanding of the main reason I may not have been scared of him was that I was deaf. He was intimidating to everyone mostly due to his tone of voice.