Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Of fatherhood, adolescence, youth, this, that

[Disclosure: I am not trying to get anywhere with anything I am about to write...]

The prospect of fatherhood scares me, yet at the same time, makes me long for something undeniably precious. I wonder how teenage parents learn to become a parent, how at such a young age, they juggle the responsibilities and the irrationalities of being a parent and a teenager at the same time. Where is the line drawn?

Youth is like a flower that blooms
But a season
Its beauty once plenty
Ultimately withers away

I look at life positively, but certain facets of youth cannot be traded.  Hence my rants about teenage parents, because I could never have made a good father as a teenager. I was too selfish and plain naive. My respect and love for all the responsible young adults, especially in our days when responsibility and discipline is hard to come by for most young people. But it's not to say young responsible teenagers doen't exist. 

The beauty of life is the experiences of life's events, either through choice or lack thereof. As a young boy, I spent countless hours lost in the world of Dickens, understandably relating to some of the young characters, fondly reminding myself of the future to come, when I would rise above all vice and what it held for me. To my young mind, there was nothing I couldn't think of achieving.

I was a rebel at heart, though mistaken for a simpleton, and often branded as harmless.  Only if they knew what was going through in my devilish mind. Thinking of youth, something really conspicuous comes to mind. My grandmother (father's side) would often mention that it was a good thing I was nice, because I was not a looker. She was really concerned that I wouldn't get any girl. Was she right? Whatever the outcome, I am happy to report that I found someone who is not after my looks, but someone who enjoys being with me. Grandma 1, Me 0. Oh wait, Me 1, Grandma 0. (Imagine a big smile on my face...)

This brings to why I thought of fatherhood. My relationship with my father was memorable and at times tense. I try to imagine being in my father's shoes trying to raise six hooligans. That's a not a pretty picture, but I think the six of us did alright. Then it strikes me that fatherhood has no plateau, no sense of self, and no life.  It is a never ending chain of responsibilities. Some wise guy said that life is what happens when you are busy planning your life, or something like that. Yes, life happens as we try and figure out how to live today and tomorrow.

If fatherhood was hard for my father, I didn't make it any easier for him. Not that I am sorry for any of the chaos I brought forth to his life, but I firmly believe that it just comes with the title. When I enter fatherhood and have a son of my own, I expect him to raise hell for me. After all, what good is all that hair on the head if we don't get to lose it all due to fatherhood?

One crisp and chilly winter morning, having enraged my father, he awoke from his drunken stupor and started chasing me. Details of the event evade me, but not what followed next. I saw that look on his face, and I knew what was going to come next. I ran as fast as I could from one room to the next, then finally out the front door, stark naked as the day I was born, taking comfort in the fact that I was enveloped in total darkness. I could hear approaching footsteps right behind me, whiff of panting and grunts to announce someone vicious was behind my trail. Not a soul was in the streets. Good, I thought. I was confident in my abilities to run faster than him, but how long was he gonna come after me? I passed the 1 kilometer mark, sneaked a quick look behind me and could clearly make out a running silhouette behind me. I have gained some distance, but nothing to take comfort in. 2 kilometers later, naked and barefoot, I was feeling a stringing pain shoot from the sole of my foot creeping up through my head. I kept running. I wasn't going to turn back because I figured since I started it, I wasn't going to give up, and so told myself I might as well keep going, much like Forest Gump, minus the funnies and Nike sneakers.

Just when I thought the old man was going to bury me that day, as the darkness gave into the approaching sunrise, my father yelled out for me to stop. Panting heavily, he assured me that it was okay, and that he wouldn't punish me. To prove his intent, he stopped, and started to turn back. By then, I had realized that I was no running Gump and so decided to accept the olive branch. I was ready to take my punishment like a man if the situation arose, so, I turned around and started limping back towards home, 3 kilometers away. My father walked to the edge of the road to allow me free passage, and caught a glimpse of his face as I sneaked past him. Was that a smirk on his face? I already knew I looked comical, and as all men know, the cold didn't help my shrinking ego, but walking past my father naked was a little embarrassing.

My father kept to his promise and didn't come after me. There was no punishment or threat for one. I breathed a sigh of relief. The return home was slower than expected. When I rounded the corner of the road before the first number of houses I had to go past, the sun was already up and seemingly and deliberately much too early for a winter morning. An army of  the neighborhood kids filled the quiet streets. I walked past my neighbors children, my hands covering as much of myself as I possibly could, not daring to turn back and make sure no one was looking or laughing at me. Did I hear whispers?

That made for the longest morning in my life...

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