“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” Nietzsche
I never thought I’d be an inept Father.
I hit him today with a slapstick whip. Each hit echoes as the second wooden board comes crashing on the first. He made not a sound, not a whimper. He made them with enormous amounts of energy, I could see it in the way his muscles tightened and his eyes closed.
I never thought I’d be like my Father.
He’d look me down with an inspiring look of dread. You had to love that dreadful look. When you fear something so much, you respect it. With his belt, he’d spare me not, no matter how much I crawled away from him, no matter how much I rolled over like a deceasing body falling down a hill. With his hands, he’d try to rip me apart, starting from my ear, moving to my cheeks, to my stomach; he’d stretch my skin beyond any endurable measure.
How did things end up this way? Is it my fault? He hit his son; I hit mine.
My wife weeps after what happened tonight. She weeps the tears that my son cannot shed. As if it is she who I have hit. How could I have done this?
“This is your fault,” my conscience, a woman, speaks from within. “None but your own fault.”
From the dark crevice of my mind, she speaks, even though it’s too late now. I remember the time when I hit that woman, when she was only a girl, hoping to grow up and blossom on her own, while enjoying the fruits of youth. I remember how I hit her and with that hit, I blew away her essence, pushed her down into oblivion, shoved her until she fell into the gap.
..and now I jump after her.
I remember when my father’s loud screams were contrasted by my mute rebellion. I remember when my father’s stinging hits were contrasted by my acceptance of them as if they were injections of a favoured drug.
I remember when she extended her hand to me in the bright light of day, when everything was clear, but I, under the influence, rejected what could have been my way out. But I put her; I put myself somewhere I never really wanted to be in.
My acts of rebellion were false, passive and uninspired.
When you fear something so much, you teach yourself how to respect it. And when you respect it, you imitate it. And when you imitate it, you become it. I shoved her and pushed her, and I lost myself with every shove and push. She fell down the abyss and all this time, she has been buried deep. When you become it, you hardly know what’s good anymore. Your whole life becomes a swoon because of your failed revolution. You lose touch of everything that defined you, and submissively, you lose any shard of subjective individuality. You’re it.
…and I became it. I became my Father. Like many people do become only an image of an authority figure. But no excuses. We’re all wrong. To feel alive, I act like it.
My conscience, the sweet little girl who I have forsaken, tells me that it’s all my fault. “You gave him imaginary authority. You allowed him to do this to you. You have a responsibility to yourself, to me, which you forgot and left behind.”
Tragic wakes. Who I was long ago is no different from what my son was.
Was. Past tense.
The slapstick whip is still in sight. My weeping wife is within hearing distance. With my other three senses, I smell my son who’s lying on the bed, motionless; I smell the odour of an empty clay jar; I taste…
There’s no love in this. There is no love in fear. But he had no other way. Our whole life now will dance upon his act like corks upon the tides of grief.
My son, lived like a martyr, died like suicide.