“I held my love for my father close, afraid of letting it show, as I waited for the call to tell me he had died.”
[Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]
by Brianna Bell
“My mother packed her bags and left my father when she was seven months pregnant with me, her belly swollen under her loose-fitting maternity dress. She planned to stay with her parents until my father ‘got his act together.’ But he never did, and she never returned.
“She raised me on her own, with the help of her parents. My childhood was quiet and simple. I read books in my spare time and went to camp every summer. For vacation we would take the train for free to Montreal, or New Brunswick, enjoying our frugal travels thanks to my mum’s employment with a railway company.
“Most weekends she was at work, so I spent Saturday and Sunday with my Maltese grandparents. My Nanna would cook stuffat-tal fenek (rabbit stew), and tell me it was Maltese chicken. I would watch hockey for hours with my Nannu, while we cracked peanuts into a bowl, shovelling handfuls of them into our mouths.
The first goodbye
“When my grandparents were not able to watch me, my mum would reluctantly drive me across town to visit my father. Our visits were rare and stilted, our relationship like a broken car that fails to ignite.
“I do not recall an affectionate hug or a tender word between us. I do remember empty beer cans piled high in a rubbish bin, the smell of cigarette smoke that coated the back of my throat, and the weight of my dad’s dog curled up in my lap.
“I felt lonely at my father’s house.”
Read this story in its entirety at Al Jazeera – click here.