The moment I saw a picture of him when he was three, I decided he was going to father my future children. He was holding a fish and examining the little creature so intently like a scientist over a microscope on the edge of discovering a new organism. He was glued to the deck staring at the fish, with his lips pursed forward, and everything else around him had fallen into oblivion. There was only the intensity of his curiosity for the fish in his little hand.
We had dated unexpectedly for a couple of weeks before we parted ways to our respective countries after graduation. It was supposed to be a quick romance squeezed in between packing and departure. But when he pulled me out of the dance floor at the graduation ball, put his arms around my back and stared into the back of my eyes to say “I don’t want to go back to the party; I just want to be with you”, I knew things had gone out of track. I glimpsed the intensity in his eyes.
So we broke the agreement and let ourselves get in touch after the departure. He even persuaded me to pay him a visit. “Just once,” he said. And alas, I saw that picture of him with the fish and that intensity in his blood, and I accepted his marriage proposal with a key ring right on the spot.
He started his own business. Everyday and every night, he did the business, talked about it, dreamed it, breathed it, and became it. He dreams big and lives in the sky and I keep my feet on the ground for both of us, I told myself. I lived his intensity in creating his enterprise and maintained steady through that roller coast ride.
He has been struggling with anger since the collapse of his business. He has been fighting with demons. The anger occupies every cell of his brain and even seems to have gone into his hair since he let it grow. It beats the gravity and grows up towards the sky. It has exploded into a gigantic atomic mushroom sitting atop of his head. Like his hair, he is desperate to rise to his space in the sky.
He started to play tennis. He plays with pros; he plays with aficionados; he plays with the walls. He got everybody in the family playing it too and soon our daughter was competing in provincial school tournaments. When he is not playing, he is watching world tennis champions playing on video, in slow motion sometimes to study their movements. When I see him watching tennis, I see the boy observing the fish. Sometimes he comes home fuming with frustration when he couldn’t steer his mind to play a good game. He has not found his sky yet.
We woke up on a Sunday morning and were contemplating the tree branches outside our window for a few quiet minutes. I asked him: “Suppose there was an apocalypse and you wake up in a totally strange place to start a new life, what would you do as the very first thing?” I was expecting something like checking out what place this was and who lived there. But he immediately said: “Get up and look for a tennis court!” A wave of relief and hope washed over me. The boy is still with his fish and his dreaming intensity. I can almost see him sailing through the blue sky.