Baba’s pen

I don’t know what’s harder to accept: the fact that we have not yet seen a trace of real spring, or that at 19, I am still a stranger to Maman and Baba.
Or perhaps they are both equally hard to believe.
Our Sunday was soaked in a hard, constant rain that has only now broken off. Baba and I had tea together on the sofa. I put on French music for him because, like me, anything French makes him happy, almost content. Then again, he has always been a content man, or so I have believed him to be all these years.
Raphael, who sings Caravan in his charming, boyish voice, fills our silence. It’s the kind of silence that has become bearable, routine, a mutual understanding between two strangers who love each other. Sometimes I break the silence off. I tell Baba about something I haven’t told him before and he responds depending on his mood. Sometimes he jokes and is happy for no particular reason and we laugh together like children who are not in need for reasoning. Sometimes he is too quiet and the spark is gone from his tired eyes; on those days I don’t attempt to break the invisible wall between us.
Lately he brings sliced apples into my room and I feel a hint of hope. I hold on to that spark of hope so that I don’t lose what we have.
He solves word puzzles in between his five-minute naps on the couch. I think he has improved. I am sitting next to him because I like his presence, I like the smell of his cologne and aftershave; I like his stripped shirt and the oversize white socks. I like how he concentrates on the word puzzle without blinking an eye, tightly grasping his blue pen, pressing it into the paper forcefully. When I was in elementary and needed Baba’s signature, he would press the pen so hard that you could almost see a hole where the signature was. To this day, I prefer his solid, firm signature to Maman’s formless, barely readable one.
In the end, we are back to where we were before. Baba in his world of contentment and acceptance, me in my world of dreams. We are a world apart, but no longer by oceans. We are together, even when our thoughts are worlds apart. We are together, even as strangers. I can reach out to him and hold his hand. He can reach out to me and hold mine. And as strange as that might be, as obscure and ambiguous our worlds are, we will never have to endure the tumultuous waves that once separated us.

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