The Search For The Fugitive

Posted by M ws On Thursday, September 20, 2012 0 comments
Just after my dinner, I came across this touching true story written by Sulaiman Addonia. author of “The Consequences of Love,” a novel. Here is a man who wants to know what his father looks like but around us are some with fathers but who don't really know what they look like because they spend so much time on other things/people/pursuits. At this point of my life, I realize that life, family, health and genuine friends are very important. May this story touch the core of your being. ______________________________________________  

HOW MY FATHER LOOKED by Sulaiman Addonia

I think I have a way of finding out what my father looked like. Yes, finally! Excuse my excitement. My father died when I was very young, and to this day, I have never seen a picture of him. My search for his face goes back to when I lived in a refugee camp in eastern Sudan.

It was around 1977 when we arrived at the camp on camel from Eritrea, then under Ethiopian control and fighting for independence. My father had been murdered, but at 2 years old I had no understanding of the circumstances. Sudan promised a new beginning.

For the next two years, we lived in a hut, and my mother did odd jobs, but it wasn’t enough. She finally found work as a servant in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and left us with our grandparents in the refugee camp. I was about 4. Each day afterward, her image became more vague and abstract, just like my father’s. It felt as if I had never had parents.

My mother couldn’t read or write, but she used to record tapes and send them to us. She told us about her life in Jeddah. I would stay in our hut and play the tapes over and over again. I tried to focus on visualizing her face. That was when I started trying to create portraits of both my parents. I imagined my father’s features like mine, with pronounced nose and eyes, and I reinvented my mother’s warm smile. Drawing their pictures in my head, I believed, brought me closer to them.

Then one day, three years after she left, my mother finally sent us a photo of herself. We hung the framed photo on the wall, the only bit of color against the pale mud. Oh, my beautiful mother! I missed her madly.

But her face in the picture was nothing like the delicate one I had in my mind. The difference between the real picture and the one based on memory meant that I could no longer believe the image of my father either, however vague it was. I had created it completely from scratch. When that image died, I became fatherless not only in life but also in my imagination. I found I had only begun to grieve for him.

I had to find a picture of him. My brother and I looked everywhere, hut by hut, but no one had any. Some people, including my mother, remembered seeing or owning pictures of him, but they explained that things get left behind in the rush to leave a war zone. I understood. But how I wished they had saved his picture.

In 1990, my brother and I went to London as refugees. But it wasn’t until 2005, when I returned to an independent Eritrea to see my mother for the first time in as many years, that I learned the details of my father’s death.

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