Waiting

Waiting

The old man is here again to visit his son as he does every month. And now he must be sitting alone in his son’s empty room through his thick glasses gazing at the tarnished flowers woven into the heart of the worn out Persian rug.

And once again I’m standing by the door watching him in silence.

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 his demise by the movement of his lips. To stand, he pushes the palms of his hands vigorously on the ground as if he is getting 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 and the waiting is not the old man’s weapon of choice.

Unaware of my presence, the old man attempts to drink his hot tea. His trembling fingers cautiously approach the tea glass repeatedly until he finally senses the heat with his fingertips; lifts the delicate glass to his lips, spilling a few drops despite all precautions then he realizes the sugar cube is missing in his mouth. At this stage of the battle, he is not willing to retreat! He holds the hot glass to his lips as the other hand gropes every flower in the worn-out rug for the silver box inconspicuous to his eroded eyesight. His lips burn and his eyes tear as the fingers caress each lackluster flower. The rug lint viciously clings to the deep cracks on his fingers to drag him inside his grave.

He finally senses the brass sugar cube container tapping on its sides to confirm the finding and cautiously plucks a cube and places it on his tong and downs the first sip of his hard earned trophy.

I rent a room in the same house as does his son for more than a year. Only once I have witnessed the father and son unite. When the son 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 and a 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 when he plunges into his reverie oblivious to my presence and his own.

He emerges from this world and soars into another so unknown to me. He speaks of sick and famished children. He swats the flies from their faces, cursing the black pests for snatching scarce nourishment from these little souls. He shivers in earthquakes and aid mothers frantically searching for their babies in the rubble, pounding their faces in agony. He hears the children’s heartbeats when the bombs fall in the war. And suddenly his face blossoms with a smile and talks about aroma of spring when the drunken dew make love with the wild scarlet flowers in the dawn of the meadows of his village.

This young man is born anew in scent of spring, in ecstasy of rain, in luscious meadows and in the vivacious fantasy of rainbow just to die in cold lonely nights, in famine and in war. He’s a fugitive, an outlaw and on the run in the big city. That’s why his father comes here to see his son. The old man stays a day or two mostly waiting for his son and every time, witnessing his agonizing wait takes me with him on a journey into his vague abyss of pain, treacherous moments I share with a stranger for no apparent reason.

Once again, I’m here tonight to reflect his torment on the opaque mirror of my soul.

The hands of the wall clock are chasing each other as endlessly as of my ordeal. The old man is losing the battle of time and dragging me down with him. We’ve already waited for hours. The old man is on the verge of demise worrying for his son, his son absorbs the suffering of others and I am desperately attempting to comprehend the nature of the bizarre nexus among us.

We waited the longest hours of the coldest night in vain. After midnight I knew his son would never return. He was too delicate, too pure, and too innocent to survive in this swamp. The old man’s eyes morphed into the opaque marbles and his gaze remained forever fixated on the lifeless flowers.