“You are just like him!” He blurted it out, pointing a shaking finger at me. We stood on a cold street, facing each other. The wind was howling like a wild animal. It was twilight, the day at its busiest, but of course in other sense. People in overlong coats carrying plastic delights barely glared at us.
I opened my mouth to respond, hundred reasons ready to throw at him explaining how I am not. But then I closed. There was no way I could convince him the other way around. He seemed to have made his mind. I breathed, the cold December air was not helping. It was not worth the trouble. I turned around and started heading in the opposite direction. He probably walked away too. I didn’t look back. I never wanted to. The line hit my nerves. He always knew what would hurt me. He always got it out at the right moment. That’s the last thing I wanted anyone to say to me. That I am like my father. Wasn’t the whole motive of my life was to prove that I am different? And now I wondered what made him say that out loud? What I have been doing so wrong and very much like my father that he finally spoke it out loud. Wasn’t I tired explaining? Proving? I couldn’t see the need any more. Was my life all about making myself matter to others? Certainly, there’s a flaw somewhere. It seemed absurd that it bothered me.
I sipped the hot cappuccino from the thick paper cup and pulled my gloves tighter. The weather was a bitch. I loathed it as much as I loathed him for accusing me. “I AM NOT MY FATHER” my insides screamed. “I AM WAY …DIFFERENT”. I wanted to vociferate that on the plastered platform walls of the metro I was going to get in. The graffiti on those walls didn’t distract me. As the long machine halted, I got in along with other troubled souls and sat on the cold metal seat. I sipped the drink and hatred burnt as the caffeine flowed down the throat. For a moment, the stress was gone.
I stared outside the never-ending concretes. As the train glided through the metropolitan, its reflection flashed on the glassy sculptures around, making my vision blurry. The pain was still there like a acid building up in my insides. “Should avoid the caffeine..” I made a note to myself. The glowing city life around didn’t help. In fact, the merry spirits in the metro sliced me more open and I couldn’t think of any other alternative than closing my eyes shut. The agony didn’t end.
A voice made me open them. The last thing I wanted was to speak to someone. “Yes.?” I asked politely. I was surprised how calm I sounded. He was a middle-aged man holding his gawking son in his arms. “Is the seat vacant?” He asked politely.
It was. Can’t the nitwit see it himself? Or had the little brute he was carrying seeped his brain with moronic phrases like that? Gosh, I felt guilty as the duo stared at me, expectantly. “Of course” I cleared my throat and replied. The man looked relived and sat next to me, the kid on his lap. Probably, the baby was heavy. I cursed myself for thinking and managed to produce a lopsided smile at the baby, as now he had started giving me his full attention. That little wonder stared at me, puzzled. Probably, he could read minds…..because a minute later, he looked horror struck. I painfully strained my cheek muscles somehow to a long-lost smile and the kid started wailing “Fuck!” I mentally cursed again.
The man ,unperturbed, started explaining the kid about metros and the speed and the scenery outside. I had a vivid image of my childhood memory but stopped before the memory could surface. The kid was still listening to the familiar voice but his wide eyes still observing the contours of my face. As he listened more to the man’s voice, he calmed down and busied himself gawping around. I sighed. Was it that easy? When did simple things like that failed to pacify the enraging fire between us? It was his instinct to protect me; in addition, that was all he had been doing his entire life. So shouldn’t I be proud? That I have actually turned into him? I stared at the kid, as the man patted on his cute Winnie-the-pooh outfit, I couldn’t help smiling. Real smile this time, and the baby looked anticipated. He expected me to turn into a dragon and breath fire or lord knows even if he is aware of what a dragon. Two more stations and it was time for those two to head out. As the man did dribbling noises with his mouth, the kid laughed clapping and the spirit touched me.
I had a sudden vision of me holding his hand and a pink teddy bear in the other, as we both made our way through the crowded St. Anthony’s feast. The blur of colors was enough to make me do nothing but stare around the entire day. Those days, I could just exist by staring around. Stare at everything. It was fascinating, curious to know what made things move around. A minute later, we stopped at a cotton candy shop and I begged for one. He denied, of course, and I wailed realizing that as my secret weapon. But he, being an adult, carried me in his arms and spoke about a story that involved teddy bears and dragons and battles and I never knew when we reached back to our car. Now, I had the teddy in my hand and his life history recited few minutes ago by my father in my imagination. It was enough to drive away the cotton candy drools. As I acted the battles my teddy fought with the dragons sitting next to him, my father smiled. What a selfless act!! When did I turn into such a monster!
Men don’t cry. I whispered to myself. When the man got up beside me, I waved a good bye mouthing the words and the kid smiled, at least it seemed so. The metro started again with a jerk and I felt a weight lift off my chest. I browsed quickly through a list of saxophones in my smartphone and placed an order. I didn’t know whether he was still into it or if his passion has changed over time… But I expected him to understand the motive behind the act. And ofcourse he will. Like he always does.