“How are you?" Papa asked, looking at me keenly. “I’m fine Papa” I responded automatically.
“I know you are not happy” He started.
“Your eyes have lost their sparks and your laughter no longer rings out as it used to. And more than anything, this makes me sad too”
“Papa,” I said weakly as if to tell him to stop pointing out what I already knew or to tell him he was wrong. But he wasn’t, and the realisation immediately made me ask myself why I had chosen to come home this year.
It is my first Christmas in the village since I left a few years ago. Last Christmas was lonely, I was alone in my room all day long. So, after the school closed for the holiday last Friday, I packed and set out early yesterday morning for the long journey home.
“You are our firstborn daughter, and your sadness makes me and your mother sad”
Papa said breaking into my thoughts.
“I know you feel like every other person’s life is moving forward and yours isn’t. Your mother told me about your fears regarding your health. I’m also aware of the disappointments you have faced. You told your mother you were resigning to fate and giving up.”
Shaking his head, he asked looking at me directly “Why have you lost hope?”
“Because I’m tired, Papa,” I responded.
“Life has been unfair to me, and I have been nothing but good. I have followed the rules, done everything right. I kept the faith, yet life has not given me a break from all the ugly twists and turns”
I ended hotly.
The silence that followed made me uncomfortable. I wondered if I have said too much, show too much. For a long time, I have been called strong, but now, I don’t feel strong. I feel like life has let me down.
“Why has life let me down, Papa?” I asked breaking the silence. “Why me?”
Smiling sadly, Papa beckoned for me to move closer and sit by him.
“Do you remember the eclipse?” he asked.
“The eclipse?” I asked in obvious confusion.
“Yes, the eclipse. What do you know about it?” He asked again.
“It is when the moon covers the sun and then the earth becomes dark during the day time,” I explained the best way I could.
“How many times have you seen one since you were born?” He asked.
“Just that one time in the village, years ago” I answered again.
“Eclipse is very rare. It doesn’t happen always and even when it does, the entire earth is not left in darkness. The moon is simply not wide enough. It lasts only for a few minutes at a location.”
“I know Papa. I was disappointed that day it happened too, I was expecting the day to stay dark for a longer time, but it happened all so fast”
Smiling, he said,
“Just like it happened very fast, making it seem like it never did, so does the ugly twist and turns in life seem when it’s over.”
“You asked me why you? I’m asking why not you. Would you have felt better if it was your friends or siblings going through all you are going through? Would you have been happy just because it wasn’t you? Would it not be selfish to wish those twists and turns on another?”
Holding my left hand in his right one, he continued
“My child, the twists and turns in your life are yours to go through. They are a difficult part of life, but usually, it precedes a beautiful story yet untold.”
Wiping the tears that have already started to fall off my face, he said
“Wipe your tears when they come. It may not seem like it now, but believe me, it’s not always going to be dark, because when the shadow of the moon passes, the sun will shine again.”