I hate the sound of the word ‘family’. I hate the bang it gives my ears. I hate the bile it fills my stomach with when I hear it. I hate the cold feet I get every time I hear people discuss about their families. To me, family breeds vendetta. It is a seed on infertile soil, with thorns on either side of it baying for its blood. It is a broken chain with chords that do not wish to cling to each other. Family is an overrated illusion, maybe a dream come true someday. Maybe just a word that seeks meaning.
You see, where I come from family is a vocabulary that seldom leaves any individual’s mouth. Well, some try as hard as they can to fake it. You will see their faces clearly marked with discomfort when they speak of us. Feelings and opinions are washed down the drain. Secrets are buried six feet under, where unearthing would only bring shame, guilt, regrets and hurt. We do not talk about how our days were during evening meals. People chew their food in silence, not even looking at each other.
The last memory I have of my father leaving home was him carrying the television set on the shoulder. His face portrayed agony and he walked with a slight limp. He declined any offer I made to assist him. I don’t even remember him carrying his clothes. I only realized he was completely gone when his old towel was converted into a doormat (replacing the old gunia…lol). That towel was so dear to him that I sometimes think he left it behind intentionally, so that whenever I looked at it, it would remind me of him.
One day, two days…one week, two weeks, no sign of him. I sensed tension within the house. Silence loomed among us like a hungry hyena. I wanted to ask questions, I wanted to cry, I wanted to wake up from the nightmare. I wanted someone to hold me and say, “It is okay. It will be over.” I wanted someone to calm my heart and heal my soul. Someone to rejuvenate my brain and once more, yet that someone that I was longing for, was the same one that had left.
I was only fourteen when all these was happening, though sometimes I wish I was four, or three, or even non-existent. For one week I soaked my pillow with tears. I cried myself to sleep each night, I cried to induce sleep, I cried to get rid of people. The heartbeat against my chest became a little bit louder. The beats lost rhythm and I lost count when looking at the stars. The sun didn’t shine in my world, and darkness became my everyday companion. I fell in love with sadness and loneliness swept me off my feet. I was in dark tunnel and I wanted to stay there forever.
You see, something happens to your life when someone to whom you are attached suddenly leaves. Your whole world gets swept away with a whirlwind. Your bones crush into powder and you feel your soul leaving your body. A part of you leaves with them, and the other part dies. You become impartial, your heads becomes empty and your soul…hollow.
Three weeks after my dad left he texted, ”I do not know if this makes sense, but I probably moved out partly because I wanted you to be happy. I am living somewhere else. I will text you the address then you can come visit.” Well, my dad breaths irony and wears sarcasm as his cologne, but I didn’t know he could it that far. How could he possibly think that I would be happier if he left?
I do not know for how long I cried after I read that text. What I know is that the love I had for him instantly turned into anger. A new phase of me sprouted that day. Anger, bitterness and hatred towards the same person that a month ago made my heart bubble. I wasn’t ready to live with the hurt, so I resorted to anger in the meantime.