I'm always afraid to go outside. Not that I love staying inside. I do enjoy the scenery; the green landscape; the fresh mildew at dawn; the singing birds up somewhere in the eve of the roof...The natural order of the living things most of the time fascinates the observer. And I am among the ones who like to observe things in their natural settings.
"You're weird. Go away. Demon follower. "
That was my classmate back when I was in lower secondary school where things were young and innocent, where everyone was rebellious and naive. Innocence often brings depression when solitude prevails.
Why are these people saying this to me!
"No I'm not a demon follower!" I cried out. I sounded pathetic when I think about it. I was weak. I've always been the weakest link in the classroom. "Why do you say that?"
He punched me in the face and the floor became my bed. Not the comfy bed; it's the one that no one wanted to lay on. The one with no pillows and mattresses. Across was just rows of skeleton plywood. I lay down, defeated when I got my first knockout in life. It was...
My 12-year-old me said that lightly in a bright kitchen. I still remember it. It was still one in the afternoon during lunch. The parent of the child I was fighting with had called my mum about it. Despite my black-eye on my right, my mum saw to it that I had to be scolded for it.
"It was fun you say?" asked my mum for the third time. It was annoying. "It was fun?"
Four. How many times do you want to repeat yourself? " Yes ma. I found it fun because I get to defend myself. Isn't that what dad want me to be?" I was eyeing for my mum's approval. I was searching for the love that was supposed to be there. But, the longer I looked inside her eyes, the smaller the hope got. "Right?" I sounded like a spoil brad who wanted that Power Ranger figurine in the late 1990s.
"Your dad will never approve of this," she pulled me by the arm from across the kitchen table. The glare of the sun made her eyes hellish. I saw a pair of reddening fury burning. It was as if my mum was possessed. But by what exactly? Anger?
"Ma. You're hurting me."
"And you're EMBARRASSING me!" She let out a shriek like the scream that gust made before tsunami came to engulf the coastline. "When are you going to stop doing this? Huh?"
"But it was dad who told me to do this!"
My mum released her grip and studied my eyes. I still remember this. The way she looked at me was different as if she had seen something crazy.
"What did you say?"
"Dad told me to..."
It was quick. The slap was a flash; a thunderous clap without lightning. I went up and wept in the bathroom tub. It was big enough for my 12-year-old body to cradle and nest in. It was the perfect place for me to talk to someone.
Now tell dad what did your mum had said.
I crawled up and turned around. I saw my dad in the mirror. He was grinning at me. His face was matted with blood; his eyes dark; and his mouth gaping like an entrance to endless space. I smiled back.
The Celebrated Kid
One thing in life that everyone tends to overlook and sees it as something inevitable is loneliness. Solitude is sadness in a noisy room. You could have been in a room full of wonderful people and chatty companion, but if your heart is bound to something dark in the past, nothing can be done about it except to yield and let go.
I guess when you have the ability to speak with the dead, you tend to seek solitude in the upstairs bedroom where the noises are kept to a minimal.
Today, my uncles and aunties from my late dad's side are coming to pay tribute to his death. It was interesting to see these uncles and aunties of mine who greeted me politely in front of my nose and spat on my back when we were in public to actually visit their nephew. One time, my uncle ignored me in an elevator full of men in suits just because I was a low-life reporter. I was covering a news in the ministry of religious affairs main building and he was happened to be the officer there. Instead of greeting his nephew, he was having a small talk with a man in Arabic. It was as if he was showing off he could speak in Arabic. Asshole.
The same uncle is here now in front of me, getting himself a cocktail in his left hand and a plate of Briyani Rice Chicken in his right hand. Clinging under armpit is his boy. I look at the boy. The boy is supposed to be my little cousin. I don't see that. All I see is a boy who will soon grow up to become a heartless individual just like his dad.
"How long has it been? Your dad. I mean. The last time he was here?"
The question alone was enough for me to stab a plastic fork into his right eye. He is a good chess player. I wonder would a stab hurt his career for a lifetime.
"Almost 20 years."
"Oh that long?"
"Yup. Hungry much?" I look at his plate sarcastically.
"Oh yes. I had a long day yesterday." My uncle doesn't catch the sarcasm and it annoys me.
Yes. Of course you do. You're a school director. Of course you're a busy man. Good job!
"How about you? What have you been doing nowadays? Still a job seeker?"
I wish I can answer his question. But I can't. The urge to stab his eyes are getting greater now.
"Just stick to whatever you're doing right now." My uncle walks away with his boy clinging to his right waist. "Don't worry about it."
Your uncle is a terrible man, don't you think so?
I turn around and smile at my dad. "Yup."
I think it's about time for him to learn a thing or two about you.
"You think it's the right time?"
Every time is the right time, my son. All you need is to believe in yourself and you can be happy anymore. Don't be like me. I'm dead. Now, where is that shovel that your mum likes to keep in the garage?
I know that I'm not crazy. I know my dad is still alive. He is just invisible and no one can feel his presence except me. I believe the words he said for the past years have been words of wisdom that are helping me to go through life. I know that my dad loves me, and has always been. He is not dead. He just refuses to show himself to everyone else than me.
And for that reason, I believe that I should follow whatever his advice might be. Hey. That's what dad for. Right?
I went inside the garage and whistled.
"Stop whistling. Are you trying to call up the demon?"
My mum used to say that. I never believe it. Whistling has been my favorite pastime. I can't play guitar well. I can't sing. But I'm an expert in whistling. One time I whistle, a rare angel-white raven came and tapped its beak on my window. It was beautiful.
I can't find the shovel in the garage. Axe is good too. It's heavy on my left shoulder. I wonder if it can split my uncle's face into two.
The Court 9 months later
"I hereby have to come to a decision that the accused's conduct has been observed over the past months and the court has found that the prosecutor has failed to show beyond reasonable doubt that the accused ever had the Mens Rea to commit the crime that he was purported to have been doing. As the case has been prolonged in a series of trials and the case has been seen regionally for it has caught the attention of the local news, I believe that it is to my knowledge that the court has permitted to overrule the prosecutor's claim and the accused has the right to bring forward the defense of insanity for the degree of the unsubstantiated evidence that deemed unconvincing and have failed to prove otherwise. The accused is therefore release from bail and will not be guilty for murder in the first...."
A Free Ghost
I think when you have your dad as a friend, death will not be the end of it. Instead, it's the beginning.
So. My son. What else? Need more advice?
It's strange to see my dad has horn now right in the mid-section of his forehead.
"Whatever you say...Dad."