I believe, without too much thought on evangelism, that every life lives lives outside of what we know. I believe in the quintessence quality of the string theory, or as lightly as one might quote such a large summary of life’s theory.
When I hear stories of my father’s adventures, journey through life, I believe this very young ambitious, unknowing, unexpected version of himself exists parallel against all odds to this day. On the same time line that his own daughter is now living. Just on a different plain. A different scope of time and imagery that I cannot catch a hold of on this side of the mirror.
At least, I would want to believe that. Might as well, if I were to throw around the word belief.
I suppose it was something about the undoubted self discipline, the visionary that really had no reason to vision, else to be quoted as arrogant and wanting – that was my father. From time to time, since a while ago, my mother has developed the habit to share little tid bits from her memory with this man. She tells me tonight that he went to boarding school when he was 13. Or was it 14? And that he took the international exam and passed, in order to be granted education in Canada.
I mean, that was a big deal back then.
Apparently, like all other young boys, he looked towards his friends, who spent their college years aboard partying (one thing has remained the same all these years, despite the parallel running string theory and all), while my father, in an old Chinese saying, would die and still not agree to go out with them. He says, and I quote, “Because once I go out, I know it will all shatter. It will all go to waste.”
“But you know, he told me sometimes he felt envious of them too. They wore leather pants and leather jackets, and they had fun. Then he would tell himself that these were all provisions from their family. That he had wanted a greater life, so he was alright with suffering momentarily and working just a little harder.”
I began crying, ever so quietly but just as inconsolably.
I wonder to myself, would it have made a difference if he were here right now. What if he were here all along? Would I have been more emotionally prepared for what to take on? Somehow I also think, would I have been more emotionally capable, more developed to have relationships? Does the lack of father power really effect me that greatly in my self image? In my ability to relate and to love?
Again, I am in a different dimension Perhaps those very questions were more than just a theory from early childhood development. Like the string theory, this version of myself exists, in the same mirage my young father currently lives on. I can’t see it, I can’t feel it. I just believe.
“Between your father and your uncle, his older brother, well, your grandpa was extremely disappointed when the eldest decided to quit school and start work. He began in the bank industry and kept at it until he retired. His whole life with that one job. And now he’s retired.”
I’m still crying, but the fact that this is a story, a verbal biography of someone’s life; my father’s. It made it comforting. It made sense out of the wordless crying .Correction: it made easy sense out of the wordless crying, rather than whatever else was mingled inside.
“Well, your father studied and worked at the same time. He says, ‘ you gotta work, or else you won’t have any money’,” my mother shrugs, “he says, it’s alright if you don’t mind struggling for the little while.”
“So I ask myself why I ever married your father to begin with – I would say how he was just self-proficient. And that he never owed anyone an emotional debt.”
“Your grandpa was awfully proud, bragging across the border that his son got a diploma and earned top grades.”
I keep crying now, but now I think, “Why aren’t you here,”
More accurately, this is only now that I have visibly calmed down. It was perhaps more like, “WHY AREN’T YOU HERE?!”
And I would never have thought the voice of a thought rebounds, reverberates and carries on in echos like an after thought to the original accusation. Why? I ask…
It was the first time in a long while that I had wanted for my father’s presence so emotionally. I mean, he’s never too far off, just across the border of smoke and mirrors. He exists.
But I think to myself, if only he were here to guide me. To provide me the vision I would need. Shit, I suppose the only saving grace now would be to continue crying and blinking away the tears as if they don’t exist. And for the first time, my mother neither asks me to stop nor try too hard to provide a change of topic. She continues, and I oddly respect her all the more for it.
“So, I’m finished talking. Is there anything you want to tell me? Or do you not want to talk to me?”
No ma, there’s so much to say, actually too much to say – it’s purging and rolling around in my brain; I’m getting choked up, shoot, I’m actually choking up. Breathe, breathe. Exhale.
I shrug instead. What do you want me to say?
I imagine her reaction if I were to come out and say all the things I would really want to. Like ma, I really don’t like myself. But please don’t interrupt, because there is no why. I come to the conclusion that, after everything she has told me, the sheer visionary that was my father, I really do not want much. I imagine cowering towards the table and confessing that I neither wish for the greater things in life more than an above average meal and a place to call home. My biggest dreams? – I just want…to provide a good life, a great life for my mother and sister. I wanted to live vicariously through them in all the material goods life has to offer. But would I be willing to work hard enough? Would I be willing to do in the same ethical sense what my father did?
“You know, he just wanted to pass on a good foundation for you guys. He says that when you are older, you will develop your own path.”
Like clockwork, my eyes swim.
Maybe in another life time, maybe another me might do a better job than that.
On this side of the mirror though, I can only see so far. I mean, when you read that sort of life statement aloud, who the hell would believe that. So idiotically philanthropic, Stop kidding Duck. Really now.
I can’t say anything like that. Can’t scream and yell and blame her like I would want to. I choke up again and remind myself to swallow and breathe.
All through our dessert, the tears stream and gather at the tip of my chin. I melt and swallow periodically the mango ice cream that tasted of nothing but shaved ice.
A rip off.
And that’s all I can muster to remember to think of.
It’s simple ma, I’m just really sad.
Ah, I remember now. Originally, I had just wanted the privilege to cry out to our mothers again. I just wanted to blurt out and say all the things that might be mean and blasphemous, but truthful all the same. I wish to love and protect, and in the same sentence I would wish to condemn you for all the things you didn’t do instead. And I would wish to cry unapologetically afterwards, cause goddamn, I’m just sad.