My Father


A long time ago I came back to my homeland
to see my parents, friends, family, the mountains, and the sea;
to hear the music, to smell the scents;
to imagine, to ponder.

One day, I went to the Old Town to buy music,
with my father by my side, struggling, breathing heavily.
We went to one of the few stores where the CDs were authentic,
as life should always be.

He let me peruse the CDs on my own, without influencing my choice,
just observing me, fearing to miss a moment of our time together,
precious time, rare time, fleeting time, as I lived abroad, 
far from his reach and touch, connected with occasional phone calls. 

After seeing me hesitate, not finding what I was looking for,
he offered haltingly, tenderly, quietly, his advice:
Perhaps Saban Bajramovic, a gipsy singer, 
He is very good, my father said.

I looked into his eyes and saw the hesitation, 
the fear that he intruded,
the hope that he might be helpful.
I said, let me listen, and I put the CD on.

Yes, he is excellent, a beautiful, rich, raspy voice, a marvel, I said,
but not what I was looking for.
He said OK, his voice quiet, the demeanor more uncertain,
he continued waiting until I was done.

This moment never left me. I realized immediately how insensitive I was,
how immature I was, despite my youth long gone 
to defend me in the many sleepless nights that followed, 
and still do.

It does not help that I since discovered how perfect his advice was,
how incomparable Saban Bajaramovic is.
Not out of sense of guilt,
but due to the time that was gifted to me to listen, truly listen.

It does not help that this instance reminded me of how often I did this,
exactly this,
to not take the time to listen
to the voice of my father, who only had his love to offer me. And he did.

The sense of guilt is unbearable,
growing. It will never stop.
I deserve it, I know. But this time I listen, and cherish, this pain of guilt, 
grateful for his love, growing in this, unexpected way.

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