Wednesday, June 02, 2004


Sitting in the dead of night, a time I love. I can hear Mrs Zen sleeping above me and if I listen very carefully, I am sure I can hear the soft breathing of Zenella. She had a late night, another phase – they come and go with the tides. She is a beautiful child. It is gratifying that she looks like me – and I cannot deny that shot of pride that any father has who has a goodlooking child. I love her so much. I wonder whether I can possibly love three as much as I do one, or whether the twins will live in her shade. It is not what I want, but who can rule the human heart?

Am I a good father? I don’t often stop to think. I’m so busy now being the good husband, the cook, the cleaner, the breadwinner. I feel I am a good man. I make mistakes. Sometimes they are so painful I don’t know how I can wipe them away. But there are always new days, new chances. Even when you feel you are out of them, shot down, broken-winged, even then, you find you can walk where you can’t fly, crawl where you can’t walk. Even when I do not feel I have anything to offer the world, I find I have grit.

I have love. I know I have enough for more than one. It is just the fear of another burden that tempts me to believe I don’t. Of course you cannot know if others are feeling loved. I know that I am not good at being the other, feeling how they feel. I am not even good at knowing what I would feel if I were them. When people do not write me or phone, who I thought might write or phone, I feel hurt, but it doesn’t occur to me that I might hurt them the same way. I suppose I simply assume that I cannot be valued enough to hurt anyone.

Zenella is shy. She is aloof and doesn’t readily join in. She doesn’t feel she has to. Some small children will say hello when you enter a room. Zenella won’t. She won’t say anything she doesn’t feel needs saying. Not that she can’t talk. She can talk. But she chooses when and what. Sometimes she will kiss everyone goodnight but she would not kiss my parents goodbye when we caught the plane. When do they learn to know what is supposed to be important, when they are supposed to care? Is there a day that comes when they stop choosing when to talk and who to talk to and start to be the automata we are all inclined to be.

Zenella is fragile as the butterflies she loves and rock solid, all at the same time.


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