Waiting

    The old man is here again to visit his son as he
does every month. And now he must be sitting alone
in his son’s empty room through his thick glasses
gazing at the tarnished flowers woven into the heart
of the worn out Persian rug.
And once again I’m standing by the door watching
him in silence.

     Each time he exhales wheezing; he launches a
desperate storm to drive the ship of death from his
shore of life. When he speaks, he mocks his demise
by the movement of his lips. To stand, he pushes the
palms of his hands vigorously on the ground as if he
is getting off the chest of his defeated enemy. As
audaciously as he defies his destiny; the opponent is
inflicting lethal wounds on him with his every move he
makes. Time is on his enemy’s side and the waiting is
not the old man’s weapon of choice.

    Unaware of my presence, the old man attempts to
drink his hot tea. His trembling fingers cautiously
approach the tea glass repeatedly until he finally
senses the heat with his fingertips; lifts the delicate
glass to his lips, spilling a few drops despite all
precautions then he realizes the sugar cube is
missing in his mouth. At this stage of the battle, he is
not willing to retreat! He holds the hot glass to his lips
as the other hand gropes every flower in the worn-out
rug for the silver box inconspicuous to his eroded
eyesight. His lips burn and his eyes tear as the
fingers caress each lackluster flower. The rug lint
viciously clings to the deep cracks on his fingers to
drag him inside his grave.  

    He finally senses the brass sugar cube container
tapping on its sides to confirm the finding and
cautiously plucks a cube and places it on his tong
and downs the first sip of his hard earned trophy.  

    I rent a room in the same house as does his son
for more than a year. Only once I have witnessed the
father and son unite. When the son entered the
room, the old man’s eyes shone, a breath of life blew
into his aged body. In their eyes I read a single poem
with two interpretations and a love with two
translations. Sometimes, I sit on the ledge of the
water basin in the middle of the yard and listen to his
son when he plunges into his reverie oblivious to my
presence and his own.

    He emerges from this world and soars into another
so unknown to me.  He speaks of sick and famished
children. He swats the flies from their faces, cursing
the black pests for snatching scarce nourishment
from these little souls. He shivers in earthquakes and
aid mothers frantically searching for their babies in
the rubble, pounding their faces in agony. He hears
the children’s heartbeats when the bombs fall in the
war.  And suddenly his face blossoms with a smile
and talks about aroma of spring when the drunken
dew make love with the wild scarlet flowers in the
dawn of the meadows of his village.  

    This young man is born anew in scent of spring, in
ecstasy of rain, in luscious meadows and in the
vivacious fantasy of rainbow just to die in cold lonely
nights, in famine and in war.   He’s a fugitive, an
outlaw and on the run in the big city. That’s why his
father comes here to see his son. The old man stays
a day or two mostly waiting for his son and every
time, witnessing his agonizing wait takes me with him
on a journey into his vague abyss of pain,
treacherous moments I share with a stranger for no
apparent reason.

    Once again, I’m here tonight to reflect his torment
on the opaque mirror of my soul.
    The hands of the wall clock are chasing each
other as endlessly as of my ordeal. The old man is
losing the battle of time and dragging me down with
him. We’ve already waited for hours.  The old man is
on the verge of demise worrying for his son, his son
absorbs the suffering of others and I am desperately
attempting to comprehend the nature of the bizarre
nexus among us.

    We waited the longest hours of the coldest night in
vain. After midnight I knew his son would never
return. He was too delicate, too pure, and too
innocent to survive in this swamp. The old man’s eyes
morphed into the opaque marbles and his gaze
remained forever fixated on the lifeless flowers.