Amber’s calm demeanor effectively hid her inner turmoil as she stared down at the face of the man she loved, the man who gave her life, yet, robbed her of the joy living it. She struggled between feelings of love and hate, sorrow and relief, and regret at the fact that he passed away with the huge chasm between them still unbridged. Dry-eyed and still as a statue, a deluge of inescapable memories flashed before her eyes – hope, rejection, pride, and pain intermingling until everything is just a blur.
Theirs was just an average income family but her father was an ambitious man, not for himself but for his only daughter. Amber’s career, her entire future, was already mapped out even before she learned how to crawl. Her father turned nights into days to save money for her education. He wanted her to be a doctor and over time, his good intentions slowly became an obsession. She had to work doubly hard to keep up with his father’s expectations. Out of love, she did everything she was asked to do. His dreams became hers, his plans a deeply embedded code in her heart. Everything was all set until one fateful day…the day she discovered the beauty of the written word, the freedom in expressing her thoughts, in pouring out her inner soul, to a piece of paper. From then on, she knew there’s no turning back. She has found her real purpose in life.
She mustered enough courage and with a compilation of her written work, she approached her dad. She was only a year shy from finishing medical school, a year away from fulfilling her father’s dream. Deafening silence met her stammered confession. Her father stared blankly at her work for what seems like eternity before slowly looking up. She was about to launch an earnest explanation, but was stopped short at the ripping sound of papers being torn to pieces.
“This, is what, you’re gonna repay me, after all the things I sacrificed just to put you through medical school?” Eyes glinting, voice hard, the sickening calmness was replaced with bitter rage.
“It’s always been you dad, your dreams not mine. Please understand that I need to write, that – “
“If you say you’ll go back to school, I’ll pretend that none of this ever happened but if you insist on having your way…then I’m afraid you’re on your own.” His voice was final.
Amber stared at him in shocked disbelief. Is this the price that she has to pay, her father’s love and approval against her own dreams? She turned to look at her mom who was already sobbing loudly. Amber heard nothing, saw nothing, as she resolutely picked up the pieces of paper strewn on the floor. She packed her bags and left the house without looking back. That was the last she saw of them until the summons came. Her father is gone.
The service is finally over. Friends and family who attended were looking at her discreetly, some openly staring. Poised, elegantly dressed, success is written all over her. She waited for feelings of triumph, for the sound of applause inside her heart but nothing remained, not even the harsh shrill of anger that she had come to expect. Suddenly, everything seemed useless, meaningless. Her burning desire to prove something just turned into ashes at her feet. Even writing became an act of vengeance, the joy and initial thrill that came with it at first was replaced with forced gaiety. It became something that she must succeed on. A forced act, a meaningless chore.
She went to her parents’ house afterwards, wanting to see, to feel, to remember. She gently traced the outlines of the framed photographs, the memorabilia, as she meandered around the house. Before she left, her mom quietly led her to her dad’s office, the only place she didn’t go into.
Slowly, she opened the door, and was held transfixed as copies of every single book that she has ever written stared back at her. The walls were filled with framed clippings about her. She was all over his office.
“Your father wanted you to have this.” A neatly folded piece of paper was placed in her shaking hands. Still stunned, her father’s words swam in front of her eyes, or maybe it was her tears blurring her vision but she neither noticed nor cared. She was choking back emotions but the dam she kept tightly under control finally burst.
To my dearest daughter,
It is a curse for a proud man to remain unbent despite knowing
his days are numbered. I have realized how wrong I had been in forcing
you to live my dreams. You were right to do what you did and I’ve never
been more proud, seeing you stand on your own and make a success of
something that you truly love. Please forgive your old man for hurting you.
Please know that you are my heart, and my purpose in life.
It has been a year since her father’s death. And now, as she faced her portable typewriter, an overwhelming sense of peace pervaded her being. No more hatred, no more pain. She finally lifted her fingers and started tapping on the keys for the first time in a year. Heart singing, love overflowing, she silently whispered, “For you, dad.”
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