Saturday, 26 September 2015

Requiescat

He was gripped by unfurling terror. His mouth swung open, panic had gotten hold of his throat and seemed to be attempting to pull his whole jaw downward. His head started moving slowly from side to side, eyes staring straight out in front. He was like a clown waiting to receive a ping-pong ball at the fair. I stood there in front of him, waiting for him to catch sight of me and recognize my face, but instead he looked past me, through me, and kept searching the crowd. His heart beat rapidly and the sounds of cars and trains and buses and people walking past were just an incoherent pealing sea of noise, assaulting his eardrums and ratcheting up the tension. I went to him. Put a hand on his shoulder. Sat him down and calmed him. The aged fissures in his weary olive skin were deeper than I remembered. He thanked me in a way that made it clear to me that he still had no idea who I was or what was happening to him. The agitation he'd built up hadn't left him, but it felt like on a sub-conscious level, he was feeling slightly safer.

I pulled out my camera as we sat. Putting it in playback mode I went through the photos I'd been taking. They were pictures of open mouthed clown faces; pictures of him wandering off in unexpected directions; pictures of the shambling body that once grew around and held my father's spirit, but which had long since given up and let it slip out. I sighed. It seemed these photos weren't to show the family back home, as much as they were to show my children in ten years time - in memorial and in lament.


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