A hymn to unspoken truths.
There's a shelf in ma's cupboard that has old pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. I call them that as they are fleeting scenes from our lives. There are photo albums and my Tintin that travelled everywhere with my 4-year old self. There's an old chessboard, mutilated from the middle. It reminds me of how it irked me to face defeat from Papa. I see a card embellished with stickers of stars as an innocently awful sketch of a cake (come on, we can call that thing a cake) proclaims my father's 34th birthday. A photo slips out.
His muscles stand out as he pulls a smiling toddler into his arms. His thick black hair flail in the breeze. He is winking at an angelic face in front of him. He was an impressive flirt, mom used to say. This photo is among my favourites. As I laugh at simple silly words my funny brain created, a light knock attracts my attention.
Papa sticks his head in. He's wearing the same smile he had 16 years back but his eyes are red with exhaustion and a bulging belly ushers in earlier than he does.
"Major, the border is yours to protect now. Ma will need to look into a few financial matters and I have to go work for a few hours. I was on leave, I know but there's an emergency."
"I understand, sir."
"You always have." His smile widens.
"I have to study, anyway."
"Right. But take your time. I see you haven't written in a while." He gazes deep into my eyes, my mother's eyes.
And just like that I knew why I always liked being like my father. Every bit like him. I was light in a dark dark world. A lantern that was kindled by father. He and I like scaling mountains but never with a crazy man's whims, always with the fortitude of a gentleman.