I swirl my stubby espresso cup and draw the first sip. It is wonderous how the first sip of coffee promises a tantalizing sensation, only to rob you of that expectation just after you pass that bitter lush foam. Then it’s just coffee.
I pondered over the revolving taste in my mouth and took my eyes off the cup to witness the melancholic stupor peering from my father’s eyes.
The temptation to start a conversation with my old man was vigorous enough to draw first blood.
“So what’s been up with you guys?”I keep the answer open for a more general approach. For I knew how much he hated it being all about him.
But the usual answer forbade my daring hope for a more profound response.
“Nothing, same old, same old.”
I would’ve sworn that the man had more to hide than that. For I knew much more than he had to betray. A man encased with so many shells, some rough, with spines, coming down to the sensible raw creature who was my father. His years were blaring at me in the numerously scattered creases under his eyes dropping along the rim of his now plump lips.
He was void of energy and will, besides the necessary whim of survival.
I try to ask again, but a shattering wave dispensed of my nascent notion to talk further. It was more potent than the usual urge to establish communication.
His countenance was familiar to me, a haze of a past image alluring to the symbol of vigor and strength he once possessed, those same eyes, now dropping under wrinkled lids, were the same firey orbs that shot lances into my spirit whenever I faced him with my aspirations and dreams.
The same face that bared no remorse for scoffing my words. for discarding the very budding humanity I was to claim. Those hands, now covered in thin mottled skin, and bulged veins, were the same hands that delivered smiting pains of reproval, the same taps of thunder onto my aware body. It sent waves of destruction right into the depths of my soul, rewriting my essence, they were more than blows to my flesh, more like lashing tides, warping the image I had of myself.
His blows and insults threw me from the precipice into a dark, cold couldren of molten shame and disgust. It took so many years, to reclaim my identity as a human being, and much more to call myself a man.
Was it a journey of experience, of growth into the hardened shell I now occupy? Or was it a needless passage of torture, a hurdle I was burdened to cross? Or an eternal smear laced into my green fabric of being, forever to mark the years I had struggled? Were my years with this being that brought me into this world a sentence, or a test of my matter? Was fate a conscious pondering thing that examines its creation with trials of spiraling fear and torment? Was I merely the lab-rat which exceeded every known expectation? Was I the rogue variable that defied the inheritance cycle of violence?
I gazed again at my old man, and there he was, the man that wrought the metal seams into my pure, unblemished flesh; the one that carried the cosmic sentence I had to undergo. He was an old agent, past his prime in time. Now a loitering creature, lounging through his last days.
My son arrives at the table, and I witness in his eyes the joy I had barely known in my early years. That elating rush of meeting your father. He says hello to both my parent and me. He taps my hands asking me to join him in his venture for the day. I look back to my father, not to ask for his approval, for that myth never had the grounds to stilt its long withered feet. Yet, I sensed the revelation that called me with words simple enough to cast the arcane demons that ruled my memories.
That life gave Me a chance to make things right. In a way, I was the godly element that brought the necessary balance into this world. When life deals you wrong, you play the best out of it.
I walk on my way to assume my position among the foray of voracious eaters in the food court.
It is strange how your mind shifts from the usual family unit mentality into the solitary omega member that avoids contact with his surroundings. As if I close upon myself and block the world for the next few hours.
I reach my seat, with a shameless overstuffed platter of edible goods. I take another wary scan around me. I sniff the agitation and the quickening in every parent’s heart around me; the bustling column of hungry people pulling out their heads for that imaginary cozy bubble of existence in the mall; that coveted chance of peaceful consumption.
I turn to my teriyaki rice plate, and recite its last rites. But a distant figure catches me from a corner of my eye.
A man facing his other half, a young woman, not too young to be happy about it. Not too old to be complaining about it either.
From my position I couldn’t catch a single word they said. But deep inside, the exchange appeared familiar enough.
Her eyes were dull, glassy and mournful. From my view, I recognized a twitch in his shoulders, exhaustion. What was he pulling from her. A word, a smile…any hollow form of affection. Like an overflowing jug of water, about to burst from its bottle-necked top.
As I said, it was familiar for me too. That lack of reciprocity could make a mountain shudder in fury. When every word or action a man takes dissipates against a blanket of frigid platitude. Her eyes betrayed no thoughts. She could’ve been an inanimate object. Nothing but the soft roll of her lips. I could read it clearly. That blaring statement carving a chunk out of the man’s heart with a frosty knife.
I will not a move muscle for you.
The man hesitantly takes off from his seat. His shoulders now curled up in defeat. She follows his ascent with two porcelain orbs. Then I see how her mind sank to a forlorn island of space and time. How her heart once belonged to him, now cold and broken under a ragged shredded banner. Forever lamenting the loss of her years, wasted on one husk of a life. Now halting back to a old familiar place. Where only flat, boundless surfaces awaited, no building or towers erected. Just old monuments, cracked and slanted from an arcane era. The time when she could happily belong. And others belonged to her.
It is strange how life could show such delectable cloying bites of human theater. I felt her remorse, and his tragedy. I was the solitary moved spectator of this unwelcomed end.
Minutes flow by, and I am joined by my other. It took her a while to catch up with me. And again, I am pulled back to a warm and congenial place. I am complete with her. Yet, the bitterness still lingers from the silent decay I had just witnessed.
Perhaps, in another corner of this mall, there could be other two souls brave enough to claim their share of happiness.
I hope and wonder.
My eyes ache, I must have overslept, the agony of meek existence creeping in.
But I remember, It crawls back to me like a soft piece of silk gliding over my hairy arm.
A beautiful face, my wife kissing me before fleeing to work with her glossy oily lips. Smelling her inviting perfume coiling my nose. It could’ve barely woke me up. It was that odd beautiful ritual that your brain stops caring after a while.
Now I really woke up. The curtains still stir from the blowing wind, no yellow rays filtering from the satin drapes, only bright gray luminescence; this day had a bad mood to it.
I turn on my back and pull back the skin on my face. Eagerly groping from the nearest thought. Then suddenly I recall a long-lost island of past senses sweeping back into a mosaic bouquet.
I ignore it at first, but again, it pushes back, ramming my gates with a forbidden face. A beautiful taboo of a face that called me once a handsome boy.
She had soft gleaming white skin, sprinkled with minute orange dots, too far apart to be called freckles, as if she belonged to an exquisite race.
Her eyes drawn, rudely piercing with iridescent blue, her two angled cheeks flowing down the shallow curve, leading me down to the pointed chin that complemented those thin, yet live protruding lips. Her neck curling into a full wide body, every poet would describe as a full well-grown woman, her mannerism, the way she draws the breath into her words, and sighs at the end of each sentence. I remember how she smelled when I came near her. How she laughed at silly things and cried with those alluring eyes. How her sobs made me ache for her, want her in me. As close as possible.
That lust was demonic, it was lush and vicious enough to claim a thousand souls. Happily given to the hot, humid push of her breath into my mouth.
I wished I had never remembered her, but I think my mind had found the world too placid that morning, so it fashioned a more palatable start for the day; I should be grateful. So did the mast rising from my bed. I was ashamed and tortured by the ghostly spell. How a thought could alter my inner world, and poke through a living limb into reality. Long story short, I dealt with it.
10 minutes and a sticky napkin later, it was all gone. All deflating back into the common recess of the long lost and forgotten, no more remembrance of that soft, sweet-smelling nymph of my past, no more shattering waves clashing between the tubules of creation twisting between my legs. No more rogue thoughts attempting the forbidden, on one flickering moment, I had wondered if I still had her number. If I could again hear that windy voice.
I pull out a hand, I see all of my shabby notions, sticking between the crinkled folds of cheep biodegradable paper. My lower half was relieved, but the other still lingered for a more tangible, solid answer.
Was all lust but a primordial chemical question, meant to incentify the propagation of a wretched flawed race? Why did we think of it as more than that? Why place so much meaning on such a fleeting, ephemeral gust? Why does our prude calculating minds cower under the rabid spell of our carnal whims? Even more, the mind advocates for these sensory depravities under the guise of passion and virtuous love.
I crush the wet napkin in my hand and toss it in the bin. The soft pat as it hits the tin bottom was more gracious than any answer I could ever request.