| One night, I sat all alone beside the window, deftly crafting a toy car from a piece of wooden block. As I chipped the edges of the wood with a paper blade, I could not help but felt proud of my dexterity in woodwork. I must have gotten the knack from mum because dad trembled if sharp objects were to put a few inches near him.
A sudden blinding bolt of lightning appalled me and before I knew, blood was oozing from my forefinger. The blade had cut me. I quickly sucked the warm blood and got to my feet. Dad kept plasters in his room. I remembered seeing him taking them out from a small chest. With two strides I reached my dad’s room. I switched on the lights and searched the drawer where he kept those plasters. Nothing. I quickly ransacked the old cupboard and finally heaved a relief when the chest appeared from within a pile of clean clothes. I prised it open and an old photograph greeted me. It was mum, dad and I smiling cheerfully. I put it aside and took the plaster. Not wanting to create a mess for dad, I returned the contents of the chest to where they belonged. I put the photograph last.
My senses suddenly hit me square on the face. Dad never showed me that photograph! I scrutinized the lady carrying the toddler me. Yes, she looked really pretty…but her hair was straight, not curly. Worst of all, the man next to her looked no where near like dad! My heart pounded painfully against my chest. I did not know whether I had enough of what I’d just seen. Nor did I know if I wanted to know more about this absurd realization. Darkness loomed. I could not feel my feet…
“Alex, wake up. You alright? Alex, say something…” A frantic voice called my name. Slowly, I opened my eyes and squinted at the bright light. Everything seemed indistinct.
“Alex, can you hear me? Dad’s here,” dad spoke comfortingly, the tremor in his voice vanished. His face finally came into clear view. I looked at him. His forehead was creased with worry, his eyes were tired, his grey hair tousled...he reminded of a helpless child. I sat up straight and took a deep breath.
“I'd never known them,” I whispered, pointing at the photograph. Dad kept quiet. He knew this was imminent.
“What's going on? Why was she holding me? Where were you?" my voice rose higher, though I did not intend to sound demanding.
“I’m really sorry!”
Dad burst into tears. I’d never seen him crying, let alone apologizing to me. He was never wrong and also, the toughest, right?
“It was a terrible mistake! A mistake caused by imprudence and rash actions! It was entirely my fault. I was selfish!” dad sobbed even harder. I gaped at him, momentarily shocked by this impending confession. My father did mistakes too?
“My wife and son were killed by a gang of merciless and vicious robbers…just a weak woman with a young child…they didn’t let them survive… horribly murdered…their bodies were brutally slashed with sharp objects when I last saw them… all the blood…,” Dad covered his face. It must be excruciating to recall the painful past.
“I was lost and alone. My perturbed mind took control of me. I indulged in depressants. That was when I caused the death of your actual parents in a car accident. Your mother protected you with her body, and you were alive. But you became an orphan…because of me,” dad continued slowly in an agonizing tone.
I was caught off guard upon hearing this. All kinds of emotion swelled in me. Anger, hatred, revenge…
“After a few months of rehabilitation, I decided to visit you. You were still very young then. It was inexplicable, when I saw you, the next thing I knew was you were home with me. I wanted to return the childhood that belonged to you.”
Dad finally took the courage to look at me. I was literally speechless.
“But you killed my parents…,”I muttered unconsciously.
“I’m truly sorry. I know you’ll have to know this one day, but never had I thought that soon. Your existence changed my life. You gave me the reason to leave the past and to continue with my life. You were my savior. And now, you have all the right to choose,” dad lamented despondently.
Still shocked by the truth, I hugged my dad tightly. He relaxed in my embrace.
“You’re my dad. You’re always my dad. Nothing could change that.”
“Thank you, son.
I retrieved the paper blade and entered dad's room again. I held it in front of dad's eyes. Dad squirmed a little.
"I love you, dad."
I tossed the blade into the bin.