A father returns to his estranged son after six years. But the son has learnt to survive without him.
Can they reunite?
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“Pa,” said Hosh. “I’m submitting another story for my school magazine. Can you read and check it please?”
“Sure,” said Rosh, walking out into the sunny garden. "But can't sit and read. Read it out loud to me as I prune the roses."
Hosh followed him out happily. When Rosh had begun gardening, Hosh began to read …
The school bell rang to signal the end of the school day. Everybody rushed outside happily.
I could smell the fresh air of freedom. I wanted to fly home.
Waiting outside the school gates for me, was a familiar, but unfamiliar, face.
“Dad?” I asked, at once confused and alarmed to see him. Confused, because I didn’t know what he was doing here, and alarmed to see him here at all.
But after a brief moment, resentment had replaced confusion and alarm. I turned away. The lines on my forehead deepened into a frown. My lips tightened into a straight thin line. My eyes felt hot.
“Aren’t you happy to see me Daniel?” he asked, expectantly.
I turned to look at him again. His deep blue eyes still held the same openness. Neither his golden skin, nor his thick crop of black hair showed any signs of age. His firm, taut jawline still bespoke the strength of his will. He was casually dressed.
"After I left you," he said calmly, "I realized what I had lost. You were the best thing that happened to me in my whole life."
“It still took you six years to come back," I seethed. "What do you want from me now?”
“Your forgiveness,” he said. "I want to right the terrible wrong I've done. And I want to start by giving away the one thing that took you away from me."
He offered me a white envelope. Hesitatingly, I took it and looked inside. Inside was a cheque, with a large sum written on it. I threw it back at him.
“I don’t want your bribes,” I cried, torn with hurt and anger, which arose suddenly in me - like a bitter bile.
“It’s no bribe," he offered grimly. "It’s my oblation. My penance. My present to you."
"Too late now," I fumed. "I've learnt to survive without you."
“I know you’re mad at me,” he begged. "And you have every right to be. But give me a chance to make it up to you. Please!"
This was new. I had never seen him plead - for anything. He was such a strong-willed man, never weak. Strangely, I felt no pity, just anger.
“You made your choice a long time ago!” I yelled at him. "Now live with the consequence."
I turned away from him and started walking home. I was beside myself. Conflicting emotions tore me apart. An inferno bubbled up inside me, stronger and stronger.
Home was not far from school. I usually liked walking home alone. It was a time when I thought about things.
A variety of colorful flowers grew under the trees, next to the footpath. Wild daisies mingled with the green grass. Wonderful fresh aromas of cooking drifted down the path from open windows.
I had known peace on this path every day, but today I saw nothing. Noticed nothing. Everything else was still the same, still at peace, but he had stolen my tranquility today.
I hated him for doing that. I hated him for going. I hated him for returning. I hated him for making me hate. I hated him for everything.
Almost in a trance, I walked around the corner into the alley, a shortcut to home. The alley was always relatively dark because tall buildings surrounded it. Some people were smoking outside their houses. Further away, shadows lurked in the darkness.
I had heard dreadful things about the alley, so I had never walked through it before. But I wanted to get home quickly. Away from him, and the torment and remembrance he brought back into my life.
I wanted to snuggle and hide in the comfort and serenity of my home, and I wanted to do it now. So urgently did I want to be safe, I had risked the alley.
'What entices you home?' I thought. 'What lure, what comfort? What recharges you there, relaxing you and then rejuvenating you?'
I knew not, but it didn't matter. I wanted to be home, like I had never wanted anything else in my life. It didn't matter that I didn't know why home felt good, so long as I had a home which felt good. Which was worth coming back to.
'Danger!' My mind shrieked suddenly, violently hurtling me back into the here and now. My senses were alert now. I had seen a stealthy movement in the darkness beyond. Suddenly, light bounced off a shiny sharp object again. A knife!
Silhouetted against the light at the end of the alley, two menacing hoods slowly appeared, blocking my exit as they walked towards me. They wore black leather jackets with studs, and carried guns.
Silence reigned. I could hear their determined footsteps as clearly as I could hear my heart thumping inside my chest.
I peered hard at the light behind them, subconsciously measuring the distance to light and safety, judging my chances if I had to make a break for it. Their dirty overgrown facial hair blurred my vision.
One dropped his burnt cigar on the ground and crushed it, slowly twisting his foot on it. I stumbled backwards, suddenly afraid at the slow deliberate act. My face turned white with fear.
I turned and began to sprint. But another hoon appeared at the far end. His sinister frame blocked the alley entrance. He looked like a pirate and was heavily armed.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Beads of sweat streamed down my forehead into my eyes, stinging and blinding me. Cold shivers ran down my body. I cried for help, but ran on regardless.
It seemed like an eternity. As time stood still, everything happened around me in slow motion. I saw myself running, breathless, unable to stop. Stopping was foolish, fighting unthinkable. Flight offered the only hope.
I felt helpless and trapped. Behind the hoon at the alley entrance, somewhere in the sunny street behind him, was safety. But like a dark cloud engulfing the sun, the light behind him vanished - as another huge torso materialized behind him.
A familiar face with a firm, taut jawline, golden skin, deep blue eyes and thick black hair.
The hood sensed his powerful presence behind him, and quietly slipped back between the darkening shadows of the houses.
I ran unobstructed, directly into his arms, shaking like a terrified puppy, sobbing unashamedly.
He just stood there, holding me quietly, letting me cry. His strength flowed through to me, warm and comforting. Slowly, I stopped sobbing and was still, resting my head on his strong shoulders.
My eyes were still wet, but I knew something I hadn’t known before. 'I really loved him! I had missed him so much!'
“I love you Dad,” I said, hugging him as tightly as I could.
Rosh listened silently, until Hosh had stopped speaking.
"It is beautiful," he said finally. "With hate spent, fear reunited their spirits in danger. They found love once again."
Then he turned, and walked back into the house wordlessly. Hosh noticed his father's trembling hands, as he was putting away his pruning shears.
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