He returned, the boy who refused to grow up, to a strange land. All that he knew had been shifted into the past and in its place something new, throbbing, kicking and shouting confronted his senses. Nothing appeared familiar except the lies, deceit and double dealing. Even the air smelt of unfamiliarity. But the animals recognized him, the prodigal with a penchant for the absurd. And they always greeted him like an old friend who could be depended upon for a hand out, a leftover from a meal neatly wrapped in newspaper.
And as reality kicked in he sat down to write a long delayed missive to his son.
My dearest son,
You are the fruit of my loins and nothing can change this. Often I remember the warm little body wrapped in a clean white cloth as I held you close to me. Your eyes were like stars twinkling on a moonless night. You smelt of curdled milk and your tiny hand reached out to touch my moustache. You smiled when you saw my face for the first time as if we had met before in another time, another place… The sound of you sobbing and announcing, “papa loves me” when I smacked you for being rude to your mother…you were all of six then… The battle of school was a saga that always ended in the loss of your hankychip (handkerchief). And those dreaded words that were uttered in a tiny voice in cinema halls, weddings and restaurants, “Papa potty”…keep returning when the link between sanity and reality is ruptured by daydreaming.
I never told you why I left nor have we spoken about this. The silence was deafening and in a way consoling for it covered everything in a thin film of numbness. You know the day I had packed my bags and was leaving your mother I saw your expression…it was then that I realized I had forgotten one thing, to pack a bag for you too. Probably you have never forgiven me for this, I do not know.
I have heard many things about you from your aunts and uncles. They speak with great love and affection for you. They say you are a good and gentle boy. I am delighted to hear this. Will you become a flying instructor like my father, your granddad? And will you too be like me? I hope not. My greatest wish is to see you living close to Nature because you love animals, a quiet life and of course supporting your favourite football team, Man U with lots of tequila and vodka! Yes, I know I get all the news from your cousin in London!
When you telephoned me late last night to tell me about the goings on in your life and in particular your graduation from college and your first job, I felt relieved for I had assumed you had overlooked my existence. Maybe the time is coming when we will talk, man to man, about all things blight and beautiful…things of the past that need to be put to rest. And perhaps one day I will be holding your child in my arms and reliving the beautiful memories of you as a baby.
But for now I am happy and content that you reached out to me. I love you dearly my son.
I shall leave you now with this quote from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.” – Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
Bye for now, Your prodigal Dad