Through my fatherís eyes


Ethel da Costa


A soft breeze, in the midst of stillness, caressed my wet cheeks the other day. The only music in the dark night was the light lap of water thrashing against a blue lit pool. Opulent surroundings, the chill of crystal in my hand holding unsipped wine, as the ocean roared in the distance against a blanket of black space. A slight dance of raindrops suddenly pattered from the sky, while the stars gleamed brightly at the moon. Were you trying to get my attention?

Itís been six months since I last saw you.

And it seems only yesterday I could imagine your presence looming around the verandah waiting for the rain to shower your garden. The monsoon are upon us. This time showering undeterred by your complaints or your tact in keeping the flowers well sheltered from the pelting drumming of nature. No midnight walks into the backyard after a storm to see what it left in its wake. Or the constant power cuts that always left you irritated the morning after. Your umbrella will remain dusty up the bedroom shelf, no claimant to snap it open or beat it shut.

Youíve been six months gone, but I havenít stopped talking to you, even if itís just your photograph I see on my altar. The candlelight flickers on your face, throwing comforting shadows on the wall on nights when my uneasy mind thrashes restlessly against the cages of my head. The silence gets loud, the eyes droop when words no longer scrabble fervishly on sheets of paper. I still have so much to say, and then such less time.

Iíve looked through your eyes, sought to go into your mind and think the same thoughts I know you would have wanted me to learn. But have I learnt right, or am I wrong in sticking with the ways of the old? Your ways, following them causes me much pain, even if I know they were right then -- when you set out your life -- as they are right now, while I struggle to stay sane. Would you have adapted to the greys, while it is the black and whites that dictate the rules of humanity? Or are these my versions of differentiations?

I really donít know if there is life thereafter. I understand heaven and hell co-exist on this earth, so we donít really have to die to experience this state of mind. Iím not too sure if the values I learnt from you are making my life any better. Instead, there is much angst in wanting to be right, when the world would gladly cast one aside as a misfit, for swimming with the flow. Paradoxes that are confusing, because the rules keep changing all the time, even against oneís own will. Somebody else sets the pace, when it is your own beat you want to follow. Did these thoughts cross your mind too, when I watched you so often silently looking beyond the unseen, expressionless, words stringing continuous questions within the folds of your brain. And was it relief on your face, as I watched you struggling to breathe. The memories are so vivid, I canít forget. It was the comfort of words that I wanted those last moments, to nail them into my heart.

You were never eloquent in matters of the heart. Rather in your steadfast action to raise those borne of you and bonded through blood. Sure, we had our different interpretations on emotions, but I know it was through your example that I learnt much about sacrifice and service. And standing up for what one feels. Like you did in your many hours of trials and tribulations. You helped me understand through example that I could do it too. I need not have to look anywhere else to know that it was possible to stand alone. And still be responsible. And still be strong, even if you were breaking inside. Did it take a toll on you too early? Will it do to me too?

Faith is such a strong balm.

Iím glad you gave it to me to fuel my inspiration. Sometimes, thatís the only quality you find thatís left with you, when the rest of the world attempts to take away your hope. You were one hell of a man. I understand this more now than before.

Hell, I realise I havenít paid you a visit, while Iíve been constantly talking to you all these months. Iíve marked out a star in the sky and sealed it as my own. Iím still chasing butterflies and occasionally stumbling upon thorns. I canít be as practical as you, because my head gets stuck in the clouds, when I want to take a break from my reality checks. But I can still kick butt, and proudly say that Iíve learnt it from my father.

I am a chip of the same block, after all. And know youíre smiling through all my goof-ups.

Love you wherever you are.


Ethel Da Costa
June 11, 2003


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