Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Day My Father Died


“It was the worst day of my life,” he said, “The day my father died.” 

I had never heard him speak of his father. 

I had heard him speak of his brothers, their one sister, their mother. He had many stories of them. They were an extraordinary family, from the stories he told me, seated next to me, in that cubicle, when we were not computing, our eyes reddening from the glow straining through the glare of the computer screens…he looked forward to family time, when the whole laughing, joke-cracking, elbow twisting 8 of them were in one room, joshing and unable to sit still, restlessly restless in each others' company, topping each other off…

But I had never heard him speak of his father. And when he spoke of his father, I remembered instantly, States of Emergency by Andre Brink, and the ‘difficult relationship’ sons have with their fathers. 

Fathers are never just fathers, like mothers are mothers. A mother is like your palm, the fingers on your hand…but a father, a father is something else…a father is an event…

When I heard him speak of his father, it all came tumbling, Andre Brink’s words in States of Emergency

Even after his father died there was no respite. The problem was: he wasn’t dead, when they buried him. For years and years that stern face, that voice dark with scorn and disappointment, has continued to haunt him. How many years does it take for a father to die within a man? How long to make one’s peace with the dead and oneself? Has that brooding, grieving old man finally been laid to rest, or will he always be revived in quests like this?”

3 comments:

Nambozo Nsengiyunva said...

for some, fathers never die, and for others, they never even become fathers even when they have children.

The Apprentice said...

Contrary to what society would have us believe, Fathers have a spiritual impact on the lives of children that cannot be underestimated. How a man plays out his father role has far reaching effects on the children even thru many generations. Fathers never die, they linger forever. Us fathers need to keep this in mind. Lovely article.

Princess said...

For some girls, mothers are like fathers also--unfathomable, impossible to shake.