By Semiha Abdulmelik
Losing my father was an exercise in a kind of growing up, an exercise in trying to comprehend as well as giving up on understanding, an attempt at resurrecting and reconstructing memories, buffing some and trying to darken others. It has been over time, trying to understand absence over time, and to borrow the words of another, ‘For a long time I stressed the absence, the hole. Now I find it is the shape which has become more important.’
Loss is an exercise in remembering and the funny amnesias. I can remember that it was a Sunday, and the minute details of the day, including the quick shower before heading out to what I thought was going to be a hospital visit, and I remember running to the living room to watch between the hexagonal grill the ambulance enter the driveway. But I can never remember whether it was the 20th or the 21st of February. Every year, mid-February, I turn back my calendar to February 2000, to check which was a Sunday. This major pilgrimage was always difficult, always different. The date, regardless that it was confusedly straddled between the 20th and 21st became a shrine in my mind that I visited and revisited.
Perhaps this year, I will try merely to celebrate a father’s, my daddy’s, love. His love was comforting-a comfort borne from being known, flaws and all, and loved deeply nonetheless. It was a love that saw all my colours and hues-bold, muted, hideous, beautiful. It was not loud or demanding, just certain, constant, and always present. I did not ever turn behind or around to look for it, certain as I was that it was always with me. It was that trusted gabi, neither too heavy and suffocating, or too light and unreliable. It was the feeling of sitting indoors, spoonfuls of cardamom vanilla honey laced oatmeal on a cold keremt day, whose sensation lingers into the summer days. His love I think come before and beyond my story-indeed when pressed, he would tell me, ‘I loved you the moment I knew you were conceived’.
If matter is neither created nor destroyed, perhaps so it is with my father’s love.