Thin Wall – Mehreen Ahmed

Forget-me-not dear father. Please do not look at me blankly or ask who I am. For I know, I shall mope for days on end, when you do that to one of your own. Your own loving daughter, you raised with so much love and affection. This affliction hits you, now. It tears me from within. It tears me apart, dear father. Lump in my throat, you not around to mend.

I think of you and my mother. How beautiful she looks? Her skin, fair, soft in the moonlight glow, a midnight of cascading hair. You sitting by her side, holding each other in the clear, dazzling light, propped up by stars of a night; listening to Andrea Bocelli, singing, reciting Tagore and Nazrul Islam’s poetry. Tonight, you’re a different person, sensitive, caring and romantic, playing chess, laughing at silly, odd jokes, talking vibrantly, being the perceptive mind that you are.

Bocelli’s voice, smooth like an aluminium sheet over a placid sea. The blind seer, who saw how he could conquer; his vision peerless in his understanding of the world. But father, your mind, to the contrary, was not, hence your visions blurry. Dear father, did you not see it coming?

Alas! You just called my mother, your mother. Mother knows not that one day, you’ll not remember the distant past, and forget the formidable immediate. Mother knows not until this day, that you would be looking at the world through your netted mind. You, who made so many sacrifices, once. Your charities saved lives. Your readings, misgivings, your writings, musings, your first class brain, a full life.

Who now holds Shakespeare’s complete works in his hands and pretends to read it. You, who knows enough to hold the book, although the words may fall through the holes of your once whole brain. Words melt away, Words writ in water. But you did that much, at least. Hold the book closely enough, salient like salinity to an ocean, faithful to your art; hold your pen upright, to your diary. I often watched you, a little girl in awe, how you cut and pasted, sentences with scissors, in those days, without computers. How you edited, You knew your words so well, in your meaningful hay day.

You took me to see a circus once, you caged me within your arms, dear father, so no one would brush past me, or hurt me inadvertently in the crowd-filled circus-park. I have not forgotten anything father. But you have. Your memory has lapsed. You go out for random walks, beyond the rail tracts, and forget your home, the little blue house. These long walks back, not wilfully wayward, but to ensure safety, I had to lock you in the house, so you would not lose your way, back to us.

Your brilliant mind, the much lauded works, the published newspaper pieces, bear testimony to that. Now, you forget people’s names, friend’s names, your children’s names. Oh! Forget-me-not, dear father. I cannot endure this. But if it’s in your genes, then you cannot help it. How helpless people are when they cannot remember, forget the next word. How overwhelmingly, helpless it must be, when you can’t even recognise your own beloved wife, let alone the names of great writers of all times, Iris Murdoch. Today you have shared the same fate. Iris Murdoch, who knew so much, then knew not what words to put in a sentence string.

What sort of morbidity is this within your mind? How do you interpret when you see faces? This blinding world of nothingness, yet, nearly, not half as blind as the world of Andrea Bocelli of notes, rhythm, tunes and modulation. Every chord, he feels. Every spice on his palate, explodes in celebration of this world, which has thus far distanced itself from you, and rendered it off limits, that you descend into this chaotic place of discordant beats of no taste, certainly no musical vibrations. In severe cold, you forget to put your black coat on. And you forget to select shoes from your wardrobe of hundred pair collection.

You decline sharply, to a merciless, dull spot of muteness. Living in this speechless world, is perhaps much braver than we’re willing to give it credit. Out of bare ignorance, it must feel like blackhole, which no light can ever penetrate. This life of forgetfulness, forgetting, and to forget at a frightening pace. All things, present, near past and then distant past, information lost in this fretful deep well, things, names, places, and babbles.

Forget-me-not, dear father. For I’m your loving daughter, who may one day follow your footsteps, like many demented others. How rapidly this disease grows, accelerates to invade the most private thoughts and not so private. The most cherished ideals, blighted in the brain, just as vices of every deplorable sin, leaving no room for confessions, amendments, let alone forgiveness. To become blank slate, a vacuum without any traces of vices, or virtues, records of ever praying at evensong. A flat line, father, is all you display, mere shadow of yourself without smiles, breathing expressionless and wordless, statued on the sofa or lying stiff on bed. Mother by your side, as ever; we around, but a faceless number to you. Your books, your writing desk stares at you, dear father. Even the inanimate speaks volumes.

Why though, father dear, my sorrows, vapid, unbound. I miss you. I miss you. I get claustrophobic, thinking of you. I know not, how you feel in your mind, claustrophobia of a kind? Indescribable that you will never be able to express. No more, no less, it is you though, who ultimately carries the burden of wealth in that paradoxical net of your brain, knitting this wealth of knowledge of all the lights, the world cannot see. Nor reach new heights. Knowledge of this ugly barred condition, eludes wisdom and sanity, the world waits to garner more brain as much brawn.

Cabinet Of Heed Contents Link 26

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