I come home and see my mother lying down. She had fallen asleep on the couch. You sit there with your eyes fixed on the television. You ask me about my day as I walk towards her, while you continue to flip through your channels. I read your face so well. I look exactly like you when I’m in distress.
I stand next to her and bend over to kiss her cheek to wake her up. She opens her eyes and smiles. As she tries to get up, I see her pain creeping across her face. She struggles. You continue to stare at your distraction and tell me to help her up. You don’t even dare look our way. I grab her by the arm and help her to her feet. She tells me she is ok, she can do this on her own and I try to go along with her game although I know better. I walk with her to your bed and wish her a good night.
In sickness and in health, father, in sickness and in health. It is the first time I understand how weak you are. It is the first time I see helplessness and hopelessness in your eyes. You barely look at the woman you love, afraid to admit that things are not well.
I am a lot like you, Dad. I watch from the corner of my eyes how things slip away so easily. And I lose control, and distract my eyes with cigarette smoke, colors and a lens.
You and I talk about death and pain as if they are but guests we host from time to time. We forget to mourn, you and I. We skip stages in big leaps and build ourselves fortresses, and when death comes knocking, we watch it from the corner of our eyes and pay it a visit at the cemetery once a year. Dust to dust, you always say. Our people are survivors you say. Our people know no weakness and not even deserts stopped us. I think it’s time we wake up father, admit our weaknesses, find solace in each other and have a good cry. I know how scary it is, when the source of all our strength, when everything that has held us together so well, finds it hard to even get out of bed sometimes.
You reach out in all the wrong ways but I hear you pacing around the house at 4:00am, your sighs echoing in the stillness. I want to come and tell you it will all be fine, I want to hold the child in you. But I light a cigarette instead, stare at the silence from my balcony and hope that sleep snatches me away from my reality.
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