The Canadian years, 40, God of vengeance

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Monday 22 December 17:09


The God of vengeance

My father made pragmatic short work of my mother's illness. He knew her passion was travelling and bought another car. A Volkswagen van to be precise. It was two toned, half red and white and looked anything but hip. Now today at disco parties you have those vans, samba vans. It had a flat boxer engine and chirped and whistled merrily, caused by the air-cooled engine. The kind of sound that you won’t forget , it went squeaking and whistling through life. There were a few banks in succession. It was a minibus. The vwbus disappeared into the garage that had now become my father's workshop. It registered with me that he was always there nowadays, but my head was not really into it. Concern for my mother filled my time in at home. Everyone has their own way of dealing with sad things. My father hid in his workshop where he had now installed a heater.

My mother sat in her easy chair and had very little movement. I noticed after a few weeks that her face had become narrower. She had lost weight. ‘I would like to go to church on Sunday’, my mother said. ‘I understand that,’ I said, because I knew she was deeply religious. I also realized that it would be difficult because although she wanted to be amongst people, she had her limitations. She still tired quickly and I had the idea that she was starting to walk  with difficulty. ‘Can you get me some water please,’ she asked, ‘and my pills from the nightstand?’ ‘With love’, I said, and I got up and ran away. I first picked up the pills and glanced briefly at the box. ‘Morphine’, it read,’ that was a mighty strong drug, I knew from my chemistry classes that anything  with the suffix "ine" was a narcotic and therefore a painkiller or meant to energize. All of caffeine and theeïne, to heroine, cocaine, aspirin and so on. Morphine also fell into that family.’


This was not a drug, this was used to relieve pain. I came into the kitchen and let the tap run so that its water would be nice and fresh and filled a glass. With an eagerness she took a pill and washed it down with some water and put the glass aside of her. I read my physics book above now in the living room, near my mother and was distracted by some cheap soap, on TV, about fake people, in a fake life, with fake problems. I could not concentrate on my book. Of late I went to school for the social contacts only and I paid attention, but I actually did not study anymore, I did the minimum and depended on my memory. Which is disastrous in science, mathematics and physics, where understanding comes by solving problems and not so much in the understanding of a theory. I freewheeled a lot, but practice makes perfect and formulas do not take root without applying them to problems. Calculators did not exist, let alone mobile phones with computing functions and stored formulas. We learned by memorizing formulas and then applying them, with the slide rule as the only tool.

‘Mom,’ I asked, are you in pain?’ She looked shocked and caught out, like a deer that suddenly realizes that someone is walking through the woods. ‘Yes,’ she said simply. ‘Is that what the pills are for,’ I asked ? She nodded and we both knew what that meant. 'something is rotten in the state of Denmark, "master Boston would have quoted from historical literature, holding out his broken copy of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Yes something was rotten indeed! There was something that was not right, at all. What was with the rest of my family, why didn’t they worry about my mum?’ Let those who have eyes to see, see, right? Why they did not see what was up, my mother was a very sick woman who was health was not progressing. Unconsciously they lock it out, I guessed. It did not fit into their lives and something that you don’t acknowledge, hurts less.’ I'll go and get the little ones’, I said. ‘Can I do anything for you, before I go?’ But she had already fallen away into a  drowsy intoxication. I quietly walked to the back door and grabbed my coat and scarf and my Winnie the bear cap of the peg.


My dad just came out of the workshop, whistling.’ Hi Dad,’ I said. ‘So boy, are you coming to see what I'm doing?’ ‘Yes, I lied, and then I'm going to get the little ones’, my father was not a moment longer  in my mind .. ‘Come and see then,’ my father said as he turned and walked back into the workplace. The doors of the vwbus were wide open and the benches were on the floor of the garage. He had ordered a rock-solid construction and it was welded now to the bottom of the car, he was bolting an easy chair as the one that I had left my mother in, to it. ‘So boy,’ he said,’ we are all going to church on Sunday, we’ll go later because your mom can not sit up for a full service on a wooden bench’. She will like that,’ I replied. ‘We are all going again to all sorts of places and sightseeing,’ he continued,’ when she gets better.’ ‘When will that be Dad,’ I asked? I got a resounding slap over my ears. ‘I will not have you invoke bad luck,’ he spoke.’ If you do that again, I'll kill you.’’I meant it differently,’ I said. ‘We are all going over the hill,’ my father said with a bewildered look,’ you see, all together.’ I had read his soul, this man who listened to opera full of pathos and civilization, would without a second thought murder me. It was almost a promise. With a life you avenge the life of my mother. I understood that I could not talk to anyone about it, my masters, our pastor, the police, they all lived in a world where rules applied. My father made the rules.

I understood that he had not forgotten my mother's nightmare, he tried in his own way to fight that. I said, ‘yes, eventually we all go over the hill.’ He raised his hand and it seemed that he only again with the greatest willpower could lower it. His hand trembled with suppressed rage on life and I did not want to be the punching bag. ‘I'm going to get the little ones now, Dad’ I said softly,’ otherwise they’ll be waiting. ‘Yes, do so before I knock you over the hill,’ my father said, and he looked at me with so much hatred, that I understood that I really had to go away. He felt that I knew how it would end, a process which he declined to name. My father was always so rational and he was changing, there were cracks in the surface, evil seeping through those cracks and making him slightly primitive in appearance and it was rearing it’s ugly face and  occasionally snarling.


He was dangerous, I felt it down to my toes. So civilized and learned and rational contemplative as he was held in his straitjacket of rules with his colleagues, so raw had he just been. A primal force of emotion, without any ratio, you should not unleash that force ever. I was glad that I could go to school the next day.

San Daniel 2014

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