He is here to visit his son, as he is every month. Sitting alone in the empty room gazing through his thick glasses at the tarnished flowers woven into the old soul of the Persian rug. Once again I am standing by the door watching him.
Each time he exhales—wheezing—he launches a desperate storm to drive the ship of death from his shore of life. When he speaks, he mocks death just by the movement of his lips. To stand, he pushes the palms of his hands forcefully on the ground as he is getting himself off the chest of his defeated enemy. As audaciously as he defies his destiny, the opponent is inflicting lethal wounds on him with his every move he makes. Time is on his enemy’s side; waiting is not the old man’s weapon of choice.
Unaware of my silent presence, he attempts to drink his hot tea. He stretches his trembling fingers to reach the tea glass again and again until he finally senses heat with his fingertips. Pleased, he lifts the delicate amber glass to his lips, spilling a few drops in spite of his well-crafted movements. He then realizes he is missing the sugar cube. At this stage of the battle, he is not willing to retreat! He holds the hot glass to his lips; as the other hand desperately seeks out the silver box inconspicuous to his eroded eyesight, hidden in flowers. His lips burn and his eyes tear. His fingers caress each flower searching. The lint viscously clings to the deep cracks on his fingers to drag him inside his grave.
He finally senses the box and confirms his triumph by tapping on it a few times then picks a cube and carefully places it in his mouth, swallows the first sip and tastes the sweet victory.
I rent a room in the same house as his son. Only once I have witnessed the father and son unite. When he entered the room, the old man’s eyes shone, a breath of life blew into his aged body. In their eyes I read a single poem with two interpretations, a single love with two translations.
Sometimes, I sit on the ledge of the water basin in the middle of the yard and listen to his son think aloud. He emerges from this world and enters another so unknown to me, oblivious to my presence and his own. He plunges into pain as he soars to reach the infinite sky.
He speaks of sick and hungry children. He swats the flies from their faces, cursing the black pests for stealing nourishment from these little souls. He shakes in the earthquakes and comforts mothers searching for their babies in the rubble, pounding their faces in agony. He hears the children’s’ heart beats when the bombs fall. And suddenly, his face unfolds with a smile and he surveys spring in his village when the drunken dew make love with the wild red flowers in the dawn of the meadow.
He is born anew with the aroma of the scarlet flowers in the ecstasy of spring, in rain; in green meadows and in the rainbow just to die in cold nights, in hunger and in pain. He dies in every quake and in every war.
He is on the run in the big city and cannot return to his little town, he is a blacklisted, an outlaw. That’s why his father must come here to visit him. The old man stays a day or two mostly waiting for his son and every time, he takes me with him on a journey into his vague abyss of pain, a treacherous waiting I share with for no apparent reason. Once again, I’m drawn here to reflect his agony on the opaque mirror of my soul.
The clock hands are chasing each other as endlessly as of my torment.
He is losing the battle of time and taking me down with him. We both desperately waited dreadful hours. Harder he tried to escape his fate, harder it became for me to escape mine. The old man suffers for his son, his son suffers for others and I strive to understand this agonizing maze mysteriously bonding us all together.
I knew his son wouldn’t return. He was too delicate, too pure, and too innocent to survive in this swamp.
It was well past midnight. We’d been waiting in vain the darkest hours of the coldest night when the old man’s eyes turned into frozen marbles fixated on lifeless flowers.