Crumpled Crystal Ball
Crumpled Crystal Ball7 mins 166 7 mins 166
I have always feared the bricked wall that stands in the neighbourhood garden, which was what I’d call my piece of paradise as a child. But, even after all these years, as I venture into the villages of my childhood, the wall still scares me, and the bricks tend to smirk at me, their eyes flashing and their crimson smiles mocking my plight. It seems as though every brick; every grain of red, crimson dust is well acquainted with the intricacies of my agony. At the end of the day, agony is the very residue of the strongest emotions that the human heart can host. Yet, I must set all of this aside, and channelize my energies towards narrating my story.
I think it all began when I was fifteen years old – and in one of my dreamy, poetic phases which found me venturing into the lush, green Neighborhood Park. I always believed that the truest poetry emerges only when the poetry comes to the poet, and not when the poet goes after the poetry. On one beautifully twilit evening, where my portion of the world was the stage and the evening light was the spotlight, I was composing a prospective dialogue between two evening-soaked clouds above me, and then my father came, calling out my name. The sound of his rough, baritone voice penetrating through my silent reverie made me shiver. This was not because I was scared of him – in fact, throughout my childhood, we had not interacted much. For me, my father had always been a blur of business that bore the fragrance of betel leaves, a frenzy of fingers signing paycheques, and most importantly, the constant trips to places no one knew about. He would dwell in these places for days - even months at a time, and whenever I would ask mother, she told me that he was out on business trips. So, hearing him call out my name filled me with an aura of newness, and something that could possibly be considered a thrill. I just knew his name –Alex Matthew, and mother had often told me how my name was a combination of father’s name and her name.
I automatically pushed my poetry out of sight, since I was not sure about his reaction to my passion for the stanza and the verse. He came and sat by my side. There was an envelope in his hands that looked important and confidential. He saw my eyes on the envelope and put it in the back pocket of his trousers.
I had never seen him so closely, and for the first time, I observed how the eyes behind his important-looking spectacles, were the same colour as mine. His hair was a chestnut brown, and he had a very distinctive mole on his left cheek, just the way I did. I saw so much of myself in him – in fact, he looked like the grown-up and male version of me. And, he was thin – but lanky, his cheekbones poking through his skin. I suspected that he must be engaging in intensive dieting procedures that had probably gone overboard. “So, how have you been?” he asked me, as I nodded. This sudden exposure to parental presence overwhelmed me and I was rendered absolutely wordless. “I knew I would find you here. You know, when you were a little girl, you would love the outdoor world. In fact, you would keep crying till you were taken out – and in all honesty, I have always been allured by the calming effect that all things green had on you.” “You knew me as a child?” I whispered in spite of myself.
He looked at me with glazed eyes and smiled. “Of course I did! In fact, I have had the privilege of carrying you on my back as you raised your little arms to pluck the mangoes. You know, when you were a child, you had an obsession with mangoes. You would say that mangoes wear sunlight on their attire. I knew that my daughter was going to write some very good poetry when she grows up,” he spoke. His eyes had already found the diary that I had hidden behind my back. I smiled softly, and the moment a grin spread across the surface area of my face – I observed a golden light fill his cheeks. “You know what? Once I had taken you to the Soldier’s Memorial when you were around three years old. Don’t go by your age, okay? You spoke long, proper, and very detailed sentences even as a toddler,” as he spoke, I observed the sharpness of his cheekbones. His fingers were long and bony and quivered as he spoke. The ends of his lips were coloured a light blue, as he smiled. Yet, it seemed as though the light in my smile, seemed to reflect in the spaces between his cheekbones.
“So, I told you all about soldiers. I told you about how soldiers left their families and how their mothers waited for them to return. I told you about how brave soldiers are, about how their mothers waited for them, and about how there were instances when the soldiers never returned at all. I remember how tears pooled into your eyes when I was telling you about a soldier’s life. When I asked you why you were crying, you told me that you had imagined yourself as a soldier, and your mother waiting for you…” My eyes widened upon hearing this elaborate description, as he stroked my head lovingly.
“But, the most significant memory that I have about you is the day you had gone to visit the hospital. You had a stomach infection, and you were nine years old. You had gone to visit the hospital garden, and your keen eyes saw a caterpillar emerging from its cocoon. The cocoon cracked, and the vibrant wings of a butterfly began to emerge softly. As the butterfly moved out of the cocoon, you smiled, clapped your hands and showed me hope and light even within the cold alleys of a hospital…” “I think I was a very interesting child”. I felt overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude, as I smiled at the stars in the sky, and sent up a small prayer of joy. This man beside me – was so much more than a blur of business and the sound of pens signing paycheques. He was a father, he was my father – and called me his daughter. But, more than calling me his daughter, he made me feel like a daughter.
As he got up, planted a kiss on my forehead, and told me that he will now leave me to my poetry, I was taken over by a desire to know more about this unique man who stood before me – who was my father, who is my father. This reconnection had instilled or rather injected all kinds of emotions into me – an amalgamation of curiosity, desire and a whirlwind of questions, which made me want to know more. I wanted to embrace this man, look up to him, and tell him that he is the strongest father in the world. All my years, I had willingly looked at Father’s Day cards which declared the father as his daughter’s superhero, and today, I had finally found my superhero. I wanted to tell him all about me, about my poetry, about my struggles with the fixated academic world, and most importantly, I wanted to tell him about my dreams…
As I leapt off the wall, I spotted an envelope on the floor. I recognized this envelope as the same one that my father had been carrying when he had come to meet me. It had an official logo and seemed to be one of those cold, serious documents that only fathers could understand. I did not know whether to open it, but I was sure he wouldn’t mind. As I tore open the seal and drew out the letter, I couldn’t stop my eyes from taking in the printed words that seemed to scar the fairness of the absolute white paper, like the sole footprint of a deep bruise.
“Mr Alex Matthew,
After considering your numerous reports that describe your terminal illness, that is a four-year-long struggle with blood cancer, which has not improved despite your constant and regularly conducted chemotherapy sessions and stays at the hospital, we approve your request – and permit your doctors to follow your clearly stated will and carry out the process of euthanasia tomorrow morning,”