Writing About My Father, Day 19
This is one of my favorite photos. I love how intently my sister’s gaze is focused on my uncle’s girlfriend, as if she is protecting my father from an interloper. I love too the look on my father’s face—that slightly mischievous glint in his eyes, the way his smiling mouth seems ready to launch itself into one of his stories. I also love the where of this photo, the house where I spent the largest chunk of my childhood. My sister looks around two years-old, so she and I are newly returned from our exile to Trinidad. My parents have recently bought this house, and all the talk of divorce has subsided for now. In some ways this photo is about us coming home. I don’t know where I am, perhaps out of frame with my mother, perhaps I’ve already run upstairs to our third-floor bedroom to hide in a book. I’m sure there must be photos of my Dad holding me in this house somewhere, although at 5, perhaps I’m already too old to be scooped up. Perhaps we have already started our long walk away from each other.
In the closest picture to this one of my father and my sister that I remember of my father and me I am several months old. I am old enough to stand—with some help from my grandmother—but I don’t think I am old enough to walk on my own. In the photo my father stares solemnly into the camera. My head leans against his cheek, but I have not relaxed into him at all. I am frowning. Or angry. I always think of this photo as being from the day my father left me to join my Mom in the U.S. I don’t know if I believe that because that’s what someone once told me about the photograph, or if I have just assumed that because there are no other photos of us together in this particular photo album of my early years. I think I took a group photo of him with the rest of my siblings when I visited in April. But other than that, I think this may be the only one I have of him in which we are actually together.