My father’s photograph
A couple of years ago, when my father was still alive, I kept a photo of when he was a little boy among my stuff. It was a black and white photo and in it you could see a very pale young brown boy, his curious eyes fixed in the object in front of him, maybe even implying that it was the first time in his life that he had seen a camera. There were bushes in the background and he was standing on a gravel floor. The picture was framed in a simple portrait… A golden one shaped like several entwined roses. There was nothing written in the back of the photograph, not the name of my father nor a light scribble. There was not a single thing that pointed out that the boy in the picture I had was my father… But I still knew it was: it had the eyes that I remembered my father had.
I never met my father… Or at least not in a way that was worth knowing him. When I myself was only a little girl he walked right out through the front door of the house and it took him years to cross back the wooden threshold again. But no matter what, I still kept his photo because it occurred to me that the young boy that lived in it was unaware of the atrocities that his older self was going to commit. The boy of the photo didn’t know that he would break a heart to the point of making it jump of a bridge in a cold night in the middle of the rainy season (my brother). He also didn’t know that he was going to beat the skin he had one caressed with tenderness (my mother). And I like to think that he also didn’t know that he was going to abandon his daughter, leaving her alone in a world that was incapable of loving her.
When I was younger I used to dream with the boy of the picture, that we played together in a park and he would help me to find sticks and then he would piss me off making me trip over with his foot. Then the scene changed and we were eating crackers with jelly, which was the snack my mother used to give me every afternoon after I had finished my homework. But suddenly my mom was there too and she was telling me that we had to go. I begged her to let me stay and play a little longer… Was she blind? Didn’t she see the small, black and white boy, poor thing, how were we going to leave him alone? But she was determined to leave… And then I would wake up crying, with the heaviest of the rocks sitting in my chest, telling her that it hurt, that it hurt so much that I could feel my body exploding from the inside and my mother would take me in her arms, both our bodies surrounded by the darkest of the nights.
After a while I stopped having the dream. Time passed violently but without really hitting you and I came to forgot that the photograph was still kept in my drawer. There was no point in yearning for someone that didn’t remember I existed.
And then I found it a few days ago. My father has been dead for a couple of years now… I saw it and I couldn’t help but to cry. Unable to control my emotions, I felt weak and helpless to the point that I was about to throw it out in the trash. But then I thought about eldness, about the child I was never going to have, and that if there was ever someone alongside my deathbed it may be worth to show them that photo of the young boy who had turned out to be my father. I would tell them about him… Not only about the pain and the abandonment, but also about his strong arms that would carry me sometimes, of his books filled with numbers and riddles, about the ideas of his mind and the few times he said that he loved me. It would be worth to show someone the photograph of the child that had my dad eyes… That they were also mine.