patternities

There are sons who know their fathers out of pure instinct. I know only mine through myths devised by widows and spinsters in both sides of the family. When I was a kid, the only thing I could remember about him was that he tried to teach me Arabic whenever he came home every year from his work in the Middle East. Even this is probably my own invention, because he would claim years later that he never really learned the language.

I am already turning twenty two in a few days and I am surprised how little anything has to do with that man who gave me half of my first chromosome. In fact, I would never have chosen to write about him, if we had not met each other again last week, after almost three years. But I thought maybe I can give a semblance of order to my thoughts about what happened if I write about it.

It was my younger brother’s birthday and, out of a rare fit of a sense of familial duty, I came home. I did not know he would also be home, in his usual neatly ironed white shirt and starched khakis. He was standing in the kitchen nursing a glass of what looked like brandy, convincing my mom to serve liquor to the younger men folk. (Since they decided to quit living together, my father promptly renounced all Mormon values, while my mom still clung to her religion, only because it was like an old doll which she cannot bear to throw away.)

I quietly went back to the living room before they could see me lurking at the kitchen door. I was struck about how, while I listened to my dad talk in his measured tones, I suddenly recognised my own drawl in his voice, my own habits in the way he downed the brandy in his glass in one go, even the irreverence of his lit cigarette in my mother’s otherwise sacred house. He hardly looked older while I am aware that I do not look as young as I really am.

My only consolation that night came only when I let my sister take a picture of me and my dad. When she showed me the photo in her camera before I went home to my apartment, I was satisfied with what I saw: my dad and I looked equally bored. The difference was that he totally looked the part, while I had a fake smile plastered on my face.

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30 thoughts on “patternities

  1. aw. i was saddened when you described the photo. :(i hope someday you and your dad will have a good connection. but if it's impossible, at least you and your sibs are close, and you to your mom? advance happy birthday as well! cheer up. 🙂

  2. Arwind, I think I will settle for "amused." It doesn't sound so embarrassing.Tell me, Jeff, that you were not surprised with the answer you got.my-so-called-Quest, thanks. I do not harbor hopes about it. And what can't be cured must be endured.

  3. the thing about sons and dads is that they will always have that incontrovertible ties no matter how hideous the relationship may be.except for faded memories, i recall nothing about that slit-eyed chinese runaway that is my dad. lucky you!

  4. p.s.are you, by any chance, taking up creative writing? i'm itching to enroll in a creative writing course if weekend classes are permissible.oh and, yes, you're yas' friend, are you not?

  5. Lio,I won't argue about who's luckier, but "ties" can always be broken as long as you know the knot. No, I am an out-of-school youth. Yes, Yas is a friend and we worked for the same company for a while. I don't think you would like studying how to write. They say formal study is almost always useless and is often confusing.

  6. at first, i felt sad with the entire set-up.but sensing a certain degree of detachment from you, baka it's not as bad as i imagine it to be naman.sorry if this may sound too intrusive, but don't you wonder at times kung pano kaya pag naging close kayo?

  7. Claudiopoi, no, it's not that bad at all. We get by just fine during the few times we have to occupy the same kilometer square. I suspect we had never become close because we jealously guard our originality and becoming close would mean finding out we are too alike for comfort. Maybe.

  8. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but sometimes, the distance becomes a chasm too wide to bridge. When someone is gone too long, the heart learns to be bitter, too.My father is an OFW, too. I try not to think too much about it, but, I can't deny that sometimes I wish for our connection to be more profound when it comes to certain things. Then again, that thought only visits me when I've got nothing else to think of.

  9. Spiral Prince, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but sometimes, the distance becomes a chasm too wide to bridge. When someone is gone too long, the heart learns to be bitter, too."Aye, aye. I think fathers, in general, don't think about their sons that much either. So let's call it fair.

  10. sigh.conventional dads and sons find consolation when they discover that apart from the genetic similarities, they are also similar in certain distinct ways. but both of you seem to be wary of finding that out for yourselves.i respect that naman. pero i think one day victor, both of you would need to deal with that big white elephant. baka nga kailangan ng detachment ngayon. pero kung ako lang yun, sana magkaroon din ng chance na magkamustahan kayo ng hihigit sa 30 minutes in the future.feeling ko din, i say this because relative to some of my friends, my dad and i are really close. at ang sarap lang kasi ng pakiramdam.i wish you the best victor, and yeah, i can't wait to see you guys soon. 🙂

  11. i guess, sometimes, we put so much value into something or someone that we expect in return. but if we try putting those expectations aside and look at it as it is, we then appreciate what or who s/he really is— hopefully.

  12. Today I learned my father, who may or may not hate me, who I talk to twice a year, has inexplicable headaches which may or may not be symptoms of something more serious. I am beside myself with worry.

  13. it'l be your birthday in a few days. Happy birthday in advance! Clearly, dapat kang magpaparty. Your dad is proud at you. More than you know, mahal ka niya.

  14. There is a quote somewhere about how no matter what our relationships are with our parents, we will miss them when they are gone. I wonder though how true it is, if they have never really been in your life. I guess we all miss something, like the knowledge that things could have been different, if only…

  15. It's strange how I thought I knew all there is to know about you and then you pull out a post like this out of thin air. I'd like to see that picture of you, Victor. Only to understand why you both want to seem so bored. 🙂

  16. Claudiopoi, I just hope the elephant dies because of having to wait for a long time. LOL.Pero Ewik, ang training natin ay laging mag-historicise at ilagay sa tamang konteksto ang mga bagay.Glenn, and have you found out yet if it's anything serious? Despite myself, I would probably be worried as well in the same situation.

  17. Is that possible, Lance?Raft3r, how strange. it's nice to have a son. But it's not a big deal if it's the other way around.Geek, I know you're right. It's just that I cannot summon the correct, err, emotion. LOL.

  18. Thanks, Rah! I know I should have a party. We still can celebrate our birthdays at this point without having to worry about age yet.N, I think you're right there. What we miss are possibilities.Yas, I don't have any idea either.Ahmer, next week pa. Baka maabutan natin kung Linggo ang movie night. LOL.

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