For My Father on His 60th Birthday

As I was pouring myself a glass of water, a single drop fell on my fingertip. Transparent, transient, tender and pristine, just like the memories of my childhood are. It made me think of my father, and the innocence with which he has always believed that I will conquer the world some day, that I was special, courageous and fearless. Some of my earliest memories are of him lifting me off the ground tenderly,  and placing me on his shoulders. We would then walk together around the house, smiling while travelling. Or better said, he would walk and I would fly. My father gave me wings then with his shy but resolute wording all in an endeavour to make a dreamy girl out of his kid.

You see, my father and I, we have this tacit agreement which entails that we never talk about emotions. We are both too headstrong for that, we’d explain. Life has scarred us both, and left deep wounds that we carry proudly, with both our heads in the clouds. Discussing our feelings directly? Out of the question! We talk about them with silence filled with firm looks of warmth and care, but never with words. There’s a deep understanding between us, both steady and fierce. Like rivers. We’ve both known rivers, my father and I. The world has shown us pain and the dark murky waters of illness and death. Still we both persist in flying high above our troubles.

My father gave me wings, which made me cross. Like giving me all this will to discover and persevere could conquer the petty sleepless dawns filled with regret and inner discord! I was angry at him, I shouted with my silence whenever he’d call. Later I realized that it was an easy and wrong rebellion, just like it always is when we opt to blame others for our own wrongs. This became clear to me the first time my father cried. It was on the evening when he lost his own dad, a pillar of tender living. And suddenly, my idea of flying was fully changed because I could see how shattered he was upon having his wings displaced that night. For my father used to fly, too. Just like me, he was given his pair of wings with a freedom to choose how he was to live his life.

My father is turning 60 with a smile while combating both illness and world’s piercing shouts. I know that we will not discuss feelings any more than we do on a regular basis, but I have a feeling that he will notice that I’ve managed to restore my wings, the ones he gave me over 20 years ago when he decided to believe fully in the workings of my mind, or that time when he let me have his favourite orange typewriter.

Conquering the world is a slow and tiresome drudgery, but flying surely makes it more fun.

HB, Dad.

P.S. As they say, “thanks for all the fish”.

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Sanja Gligorić

Sanja Gligorić

Sanja Gligorić studied English Language, Literature and Culture in Belgrade. She enjoys reading, writing and translating.
Sanja Gligorić