Beyond the demure exterior lies a stone cold heart.
The wind battered against the window ruthlessly as the man sat in his chair, pondering. His face sank into his hands while letting out a heavy sigh, frustrated with the ongoings of the past weeks. “No, not weeks, but months.” He thought to himself. No matter how hard he tried, sleep seemed impossible and thus, he continued to stare into space.
“Papa?” A soft endearing voice let out, much to the man’s surprise. He swiveled his chair and faced his son who walked in, face deflated and obviously didn’t have his best of days either.
“Luca hit me today Papa, it hurt and I was so angry I hit him back,” the son wept as he shared, “I felt embarrassed when the teacher scolded me, but I was wronged Papa, I got hit first”.
“Hush my son, here clean up your tears,” the man comforted him as he handed his son a piece of tissue paper,”what you felt was only temporary emotions son, short simple emotions that stand alone. Those aren’t the worse emotions my son”.
“Temporary? What do you mean Papa? What do you mean?” The child shook the man’s arm eager to learn more. Getting out of his seat, the man drew the curtains and was greeted by the howling winds that smacked against the glass windows. Peering into the vast wilderness,”temporary emotions are those that come and go depending on the day to day events that you engage in. Such emotions don’t last long, so cry not my son for I’m sure you’ll learn from this and pick yourself up.” The man spoke with such wisdom, his son looked up to him with a renewed air of confidence but abruptly frowned.
“Papa?” The child questioned again.
“Yes my son?” The man answered without looking at him.
The child got puzzled and quickly pointed out,”you’re trying to cheer me up Papa, but why are you not happy yourself, you seem down Papa.”
Appalled, the man’s eyes widened and he turned to look at his son. With his hands in his pockets and now focussing on the ground the man didn’t know how to answer him. He thought long and hard before finally squatting and at his son’s eye level let out in the faintest of voices, “Papa is lonely son, Papa is lonely.”
“Lone…ly?” The son scratched his head while trying to digest the word and it’s meaning,”because of Mama, is it Papa? Is it?” The child eventually grappled with the new vocabulary.
Thoughts of his deceased wife soon engulfed his mind. He remembered the happier times spent with her, only to be left a widower on his son’s fifth birthday.
“Yes son, Papa is lonely because of Mama,” the man replied softly.
“But Papa with all your work and the parties you hold, you have so so many friends Papa! ” The child gushed excitedly.
It was true. The man, one of the richest in the neighbourhood had built a formidable manufacturing empire and often held night parties to keep his loneliness at bay. Yet somehow today his son discovered what he had been truly feeling deep down, something no one since his wife, could have done.
“You can have many friends and still be lonely my son,” the man began to explain as he returned to his chair, “loneliness, unlike the anger, embarrassment and being wronged is a more complex emotion, one that may be permanent son”.
He continued,”sometimes, at work because everything is running so smoothly and the office is so big, Papa has hardly any chance to talk to anyone. As for the parties, Papa gets ignored at times”. He recalled all the workers under him, mostly just desired the monetary remuneration. People hardly stopped to have a cup of coffee. At parties, people attended but hardly interacted with him.
The child, still new to the idea of loneliness asked hesitantly, “being lonely, is that the worst emotion then Papa?” The man stared at his son and his son stared back. The two looked at each other for a brief moment before the man muttered, “Yes son, it is. Loneliness is the worst. It leads to many other emotions. With it comes anger, sadness sets in and you feel that your existence is unnecessary.”
“Papa…” The child could only say meekly, “you’re…” but before he could finish the man spoke again.
“When you lose someone you’re so emotionally attached to, just like your Mama, it won’t be long till you start to feel lonely. But what can permanently make you feel alone is when even people you thought you can count on starts to desert you. Don’t let that happen to you son, more importantly, don’t lose your loved ones.” The man tried holding back his tears while saying what he had to say for a long time. He kept it in for too long, with no one close to say to. How much could his son understand, not much, the man knew but it was about time he let his heart do some talking. At this point, his head was once again buried in his hands.
“But Papa,” his son tapped him on the shoulder, eyes fixed on the man’s crestfallen face, “You’re not alone, I’m someone you’re emotionally attached to, right? Don’t be sad Papa, don’t be”.
The man was taken aback by his son’s words. Did he not realise he still had him? A precocious, eight year old boy. He caressed his son’s hair before wrapping his cold arms around him,”Yes my son, I still have you. With you around, I won’t be lonely”.
It’s true, no one enjoys being lonely for long periods of time. Yet it may seem inevitable at times when one is met with series of disappointments from the people they believe in most. Time, a precious endearment, always with us just like the son, can always let things heal. But when it has happened too frequently, when it’s the recurring culprits, will time or having that son, like that man had, help?