I stared into his eyes, the color of pitch, his corneal pupil expanded with a thirst that needed to be quenched. I still remember the scorching sun that September noon, when we both were at my favorite park in Salmiah, and how you placed your palms on my forehead, so that the piercing hot rays wouldn’t touch my face. I remember how happy we both were. Those images of ecstasy are still vivid within the deepest layers of my thoughts, that no one knows. I remember you laughing. You were my universe, and all its finer notions my little mind could imprint. I remember every syllable of what you had said, as I lay there on your lap underneath the palm trees. When the hot desert breeze gently fluttered all over, slightly disturbing the details of the otherwise still and stagnant park lawn. I still remember your voice in my head, telling me, that I am the greatest wealth you possess. You cuddled me in your arms, gave me the daddy squish and whispered into my ears the meaning of my name. You told me I am your gift of love.
I remember holding your hand wherever we went, I remember how you played with my nose, and I remember how you gave me elephant rides on your back, even when you had hectic days at work. I remember all the few moments of your love that I received. And then one fine day, you leave. You leave me hanging onto your memories, onto your smell of cologne and onto the warmth of your chest. I always felt that you abandoned me. The crime of death pulled you away from me, as I tried clinging on to you as hard as I could. On to every single part of you, as my soul pined and got ripped apart for you. I remember holding your hands one last time; your hands were cold and dry, your skin almost flaked inside my small palms. I was scared, if that was hurting you, so instead, I just carefully pecked a tiny kiss on your cheek and I saw the ice melt near your chin, under the heat of my tears.
Dear daddy, years passed by and I was that little girl who stood by the door watching her friend’s dad kissing her friend, and I’d simply look away, because I didn’t want them to know how I felt. I didn’t want them to know how much I missed you and how much I craved to sit on your lap. There were days I sat by your bed and imagined touching your beard, and kissing your hair, because you loved it when I did that. I often felt bad about myself, because I wasn’t supposed to feel jealous about things my friends had and I did not. I learned to live with it.
It’s been a decade since, and as I closed my eyes to sleep on his lap, I could not. Something very unsettling was beginning to brew within me. Suddenly it all felt so different, because he was the man I loved but, you were the only man I sensed at that moment. It felt like you were there. I stared into his eyes as I gripped onto his hand because, I saw you within him. I was your little girl again and I didn’t want you to leave. I felt each strand of my hair move in resonance to his fingertip, and I felt you. Each cell on my face rejoiced with the familiarity, because I knew I’ve felt this way before. He looks at me with the amusement which probably you would have had when you first saw me. I told him, that he reminded me of you. Sometimes I feel, each one of us mysteriously possesses parts of other people, traits of humans we’ve never met, and characteristics of people we are never likely to meet ever again, all of this just to cause a slight difference or a minute alteration in someone’s life to whom you might not be bound by blood, but by affection and compassion within the cosmos. Maybe it is not random at all, maybe it’s all destined. Like I was destined to meet him.
But I bet he’ll never even guess about how he healed the little girl who stood by the door. Of how he fixed the girl who watched greedily with sad eyes as her uncle fed her cousin. Of how he mended the rebellious teenager who did not have anyone to hold her hand, to make her feel strong. Of how he soothed the feminist within her, who had to find her hero within herself. Of how he brought down the guards of the dominating girl, who had to create a shield that would protect her from everything that the world could harm and scar her with. Of how he reconciled the long lost rhythm of harmony that was left unaided and shaded deep with the masks of age and ego.
I ask him about what he’s been thinking, he holds me in his arms and says he’s praying. I smile and look at him wondering if he’ll ever know, he’s the answer to every single prayer of mine.
~ Joana Alexander | Edited by Afreen Zeb