Burn After Reading

Dear Daughter

The first time I mustered enough courage to hug my father, he could only manage a pat on the head. My father, who would gladly give his life for me, could not do the same with his arms. This is why I hold on to things, I squeeze the life out of them. I hold on to every poem I’ve ever written to my lover, I cannot bear to let him see me with empty arms, I know he’s gonna be tempted to hold me. My hands are full. I’m too busy holding on to things that no longer hold me. I remember a boy who held me once, he held me as if he knew that I was not there. I could hear him draw his breath as if he wanted to know how the air felt around me, if it was ever able to hold me. As if he knew that the moment he let me go, I’d be gone forever. My dad loves children, he plays with my niece as if she is an energy source. I remember how he used to carry me on his shoulders whenever we had to walk a long distance. The world seemed smaller from up there, I felt invincible. His eyes twinkle when he smiles, I hope the stars never get to know of this, I don’t think they would appreciate being outshined. I don’t want my lover to hold me if he ever intends to let me go, I don’t want to get used to the feel of his arms around me if he’s gonna use the very same ones to wave goodbye. You let me hold you, as if you understood how much I needed it. I’ve held daughters in my arms, daughters whose pain pierced my heart as if they had pins attached to them. Holding you made me realize how it felt to hold peace in your arms. You silenced every war in my heart. I have picked up daughters from the battlefield with these arms. I hope I never know how it feels to hold you while the bullet is still inside your body. But dear daughter, should the need ever arise, I will hold you as if your pain will be transferred to me like food through an umbilical cord. I will hold you as if my arms are the latest invention in the medical field. And when you are too ashamed to bare your scars to mummy, I will pray that you have friends with healing hearts on their sleeves, who will hold you with the very heart of God. With you, holding, which has meant so many things at different times, restriction, captivity, possession, means peace.

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