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The Canadian years, 53 the supper

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Friday 09 January 08:01


The supper

My sister called me for dinner, I had been sitting in my domain for hours, hung over my books, but I had lacked the concentration. The study feel did not come about. I took note of the subject matter and I read it only to find out a little later, that I was rereading the same material.

Everyone was waiting at the table. ‘So, were your books  interesting,’ my father asked with feigned interest. I nodded and said ‘yes, but I'm not really in to it today.’ My father filled his plate up and started about Frank Slide. ‘Tomorrow,’ he said, ‘after church, we are going to Frank Slide and slide here, means, an earthquake or a landslide’. He looked around if everyone had followed him. ‘There is something I want to say,’ my brother said, ‘if I may interfere. I have other plans for tomorrow. I am going to the park with a girl that I have met’. ‘Oh’, my father said, ‘how and where have you met?’ ‘Just in town,’ my brother said. ‘We are going to the zoo island in the Bowriver.’ No,’ said my father, ‘that does not seem like a good idea to me, we all are going  to Frank Slide. You can not simply disengage yourself from the family. I will not let you change our plans. My father sought support by his use of words, I realized that and did not feel  supportive by the word 'our' ..

‘I will change nothing,’ my brother said as he looked intently at my father,’ I have arranged my date a few days ago’ and it became quiet at the table, I studied my plate of food and felt the tension that came slicing through the air. ‘In addition,’ my brother said, ‘I'm not going to church, my girlfriend is not religiously inclined and I am a little less inclined lately as well. My father’s fist came banging down on the table and the plates clanked against the cuttlery. ‘Well Damn, God God.’ He began and  raised his hand, which he had hover up and then he downed his hand again, and I saw how he commanded that icy control over himself, which I had watched earlier. ‘So boy,’he spoke slowly, ‘you make the rules here? Is there no place for God in your heart?’ ‘That is death in the pot boy, you can not live without God.’ My father had done it once again, he had given the arguments a twist that emphasized the church and not his own impotence.


‘I will not allow it,’ my father said. He repeated it again,’ I will not allow my son, my beloved son, to be turned into a heathen by some tart.’ My brother just stared at him, there was no turning back. I was looking for a compromise to break the tension which was almost unbearable. ‘Maybe, your girlfriend can join us,’I said, ‘it might be interesting’. A blow to my head made me of tumble from the table, chair and all. ‘Shut up,‘ my father called out with pinched voice, ‘can you not see I'm talking to your brother.’’ Do not touch him anymore,’ my brother said to my father. ‘That's really good advice’, he continued. ‘Why can’t you keep silent,’ my father said to me, now regained composure. Now it would have been my own fault that I had been beaten off my chair. ‘Do not touch him anymore,’ my brother said again, ‘so much better for all of us,’ my father looked at me and said, ‘if you stand up, I'll knock you down. I just looked at him. ‘What was going on,’ I could hardly contain it. I had become a plaything between my brother and my father. My head burst with pain. My father had a problem and had his back against the wall, I realized that, when I got my thoughts straight. ‘Boy, boy’, my younger sister called out, ‘it's a joke, right?’ Her sweet voice was higher than usual and sounded concerned.

‘Yes,’ I said, a joke, but a joke in poor taste. Not all jokes are fun.’ But enjoy your meal, these jokes will never happen again.’’ Oh’, she said, relieved.’ I warn you’, my father said, whatever happens to you now, you bring about yourself’. My father was on the defensive.’ How do you get it into your head,’ he continued,’ to suggest that a pagan whore should join us’. I understood what was going on. He wanted no outside influence in our family. My big sister, looked contemptuously, at my father and helped me up. ‘This won’t happen anymore, ‘she said with a soft voice and I felt protected. The ground beneath my feet was father's quickly crumbling. My mother looked up with a beatific smile from her plate. She had followed parts of the conversation selectively. ‘How nice that you have a girlfriend,’ she said, rattling in between  breathing pauses, to my brother. ‘Is she coming with us tomorrow?’ ‘No, ‘said my brother, ‘I think she has other interests. She would not feel at ease with us’. He spoke as if he lovingly explained something  to a little child.

My mother nodded, and I saw that she had lost the thread again. ‘Now that we are actually communicating,’ continued my brother, I applied for another job.` ‘ Oh,’ my father said which  sounded almost normal. ‘In Edmonton,’ said my brother, ‘with Air Canada.’ Holy cow,’ I thought, that lies some 400 kilometers to the east. ‘So’, uttered my father, ‘tell me something more about this,’ his voice had dropped to an almost hoarse whisper. ‘What will you do there and how has that come about?’ ‘Karin's uncle works there,’ my brother said ‘and he is helping me in.’ Ah, the girlfriend was called Karin, I stored the information. ‘What can you do there, that you can not do here,’ my father asked, barely audible but his lips betrayed his inner struggle to remain calm. He just wanted to have some more information.


‘I can work and train there as a flight engineer,’ said my brother, ‘I'm in the last application round and if I get through, I’ll take this opportunity with both hands.’ ‘We have a pact’, said my father, ‘we have an agreement. You can not leave my house until the pact expires.’ ‘No,’ said my brother,’ you have made an agreement, I was not the one who thought that up.’ ‘You've shaken my hand,’ my father replied, ‘that is giving your word. Do not break your word against me, your father. I will not allow that. Do not deceive me boy.’ His voice trembled with emotion. Suddenly he jumped up, it is the pagan whore who put you up to this’, he roared. He exploded, he grabbed his plate and turned it over on the table and gave it a shattering blow with his fist so that the food was mixed with shards. He picked up his glass and threw it against the wall. ‘I am the Lord your God,’ he roared ‘and I am a jealous God. I will not tolerate idolatry’. The wounded rawness splashed out of his words like a shower of sparks over the table. There was a shudder that went through me, something dark had descended over us and our lives would never be the same.

For a moment it seemed as if he would walk up to my brother, but he changed his mind and turned around and a loud gasp was audible, he straightened his back and marched through the back of the house. Father had left the house. Moments later, the lights went on in the workshop. There was only one reason he had left us and had not molested us, I knew it down to my toes, he had come to a decision and whatever that decision entailed, it filled me with anxiety. His words had not been chosen by chance. I looked at my brother and he nodded an encouraging nod and I knew that my brother and I had become mature.

San Daniel 2015

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