Written and submitted by Moira Chaytoo.
It was Saturday night, where the house was quiet as every working household would be, but it felt a little extra quiet on that day in particular because my adorable yet naughty nephew was not back from his baby sitter’s house. This boy’s presence had indeed brought us joy and happiness these past few months and how he has made me love children – going from “eww hell nah” when someone passes their child to me to thinking about how I would want to adopt a kid and be this independent lawyer/psychologist single mom with a studio apartment and a cat. It makes me smile, when I think about how I was anti-child before.
It has always been me and my Grandma A.K.A Patti, who raised me and held me through my suicidal thoughts to frequent mini breakdowns these days. She is my annoying yet cute parent that I would say I have a long lasting relationship with. Anyway, we decided to look through a couple of old albums and rearrange some pictures as we are a very unorganized household and this is when a wave of emotions hit us, as we uncovered some of the evidently old yet somehow well-kept pictures from one of the old cupboards older than me.
We looked through picture after picture, and started commenting on how she used to look young and how chittapa looked thin. “Who is this woman? Are we even related?”, “what was atthai thinking wearing that?”, “why is this uncle zoomed in?”, “did you go to krabi?” We were just laughing away until I stumbled upn this white covered album which had only my pictures in it, and my laughter started fading as I swiped through each photo. The only thought that crossed my mind was that I was actually happy and content – minus the non-puberty hitting me like a truck or how I had a Diana-inspired haircut. I was actually living my childhood and I don’t even recall my pictures being taken.
That was when I stumbled upon this one picture that got tears brimming in my eyes and threatening to flow like Niagara falls… it was me and Pa, leaning into each other and staring away. I started thinking of him and how things were back then. I never stopped missing him and my ma passed away before I can even call her Ma. I grew up a single but happy child but here’s the thing… I wish I could have made Pa take his Cholesterol meds more often, and get himself checked up every month. Pa, being an orphan is hitting me now, not when u died on my 10th birthday.
Pa, no one can be you. I never appreciated what you had left for me until I was 20, high and on my balcony and broken-hearted trying to find your number to tell you what was wrong, and you consoling me saying, “It’s OK, life happens and I’m here for you.” But here’s the thing… you’re not here, Pa. It took me an hour or so to let out the cry that I never did let out when they cremated you then, it was after that I started wondering and missing having a parent and family in my life. And in search of love, I traded my body at some point just to attain that love and attention I never got from a family, as I never had one.
I don’t blame you and I don’t hate you or Ma anymore, but mostly Pa I just want to head home knowing that you are waiting for me, and scolding for being out and about late night past curfew, having that awkward silence filled in when it comes to talks on dating and how every boy is ‘wrong’ or not the right one in your view as I’m that little Darshini of yours, awkwardly shopping for pads for me in drugstores, cooking together (more like burning half of the food due to our incomprehensible Masterchef skills), buying me dresses every week like how you used to with Auntie Anne’s cinnamon pretzel, persuading me that barbie dolls are the go-to toys and not cars, and finally, giving me away to the man of my dreams and playing with your granddaughter while you have your favourite Teh Tarik at our house…
I wish I had that with you Pa. I knew raising me as a single dad was never easy and you never married even when you had the choice – you were afraid my step mom would hurt me. I wish I could have told you that you are working too hard and that you should rest when I sent you off to work at 4am in the morning and how you would come back tired with the dark circles growing more evidently. Yet, you never failed to mask it and put on a smile for me … all those beatings and scoldings you gave me while tearing up and then you’d end up getting me ice cream…
My happiness was yours, Pa. You made me your priority. I’m no one’s these days, Pa. We were happy, Pa, in our mini cocoon even when I never knew who Ma. You never made me feel short of not having a mom.
Too bad you had to part ways with me. I hated both of you at one point, but as I aged I was content on the idea of both of you finally having reunited and living your life somewhere over the rainbow. Here’s the thing though, Pa, I was fixed with the idea that being a lone wolf is not a problem and being one wouldn’t leave me feeling left out… but then my 20s hit me. It was when I started feeling like I wanted to cut myself, and when boys came and went by, treating me like a Touch ‘n’ Go card and psychiatrists started internally judging me, thinking that I’m a fairly bad observer and how half of my life decisions just went sour. It is at this moment that I realised I need you, Chaythoo. How I wish I had you, Pa.