When I was a child, Fridays were for relaxed brunches and general laziness. My mother pointed out to me that brunch came from the words breakfast and lunch, as it was eaten at a time that was neither morning nor wholly afternoon. I thought she was very clever but I told her I had already arrived at that conclusion by myself.
On Thursdays, I did my homework and chores, and listened to the occasional reprimand from my mother.
“Can’t you pick it up? It’s right there in front of your eyes, you walk over it or around it, why don’t you bend down and pick it up?”
But Fridays were special. Friday was our Sunday, the one day we were all at home. Sometimes my mother would make a vegetable soup, and my father would sit on the floor of our living room, which we called the hall, dicing the vegetables into exactly the same size. My mother would swing between frustration and amusement, going one way or the other depending on how long he made her wait while he satisfied himself, checking on him as she fried little pieces of bread.
“At least we know where you’ll find a job if you lose this one,” she would say to him. We laughed when we spotted the beginning of a smile at the edge of her lips.
On Fridays, we played games. My mother was the Queen of Games and my father didn’t play. He smiled at us when we teased him (Don’t be so boring, Oh come on just one game, You’ll watch us but not play with us?). He maintained he didn’t like games of chance. He taught me chess, and we played every night even though I wasn’t very good at it, until I told him I didn’t want to play anymore. I knew how all the pieces moved and there was nothing left to learn. He showed me how to dial for an internet connection, how to make a presentation, and how to create tables using Excel.
My mother bought for me Monopoly, Scrabble, Snakes and Ladders. I still don’t know how to play Ludo, the game on the back of the Snakes and Ladders board, because she didn’t know. She taught me card games too. Rummy and Ass at first, Literature when she felt I was old enough to understand. She explained to me all the rules of cricket and tennis, telling me that Love meant more than one thing, and that sometimes if you watched a match without taking a break, your team might win.
One day, my father told me the story of how he lost his vision and got it back, before he was a father, before he had met my mother under the supervision of families looking to arrange a marriage. He told me about liquid nitrogen and its impossibly low temperature, about a pressurized cylinder that burst in his face. He told me about eyes that were scarred so thoroughly, that for three months, a bandage was tied around his face. He didn’t see the light or dust for three months he said, and he wasn’t allowed to wash his face. He told me the doctor was nervous, hesitant to take off the bandage.
“Now look here,” the doctor had said. “I can’t guarantee what will happen when I remove the bandage. You may be able to see, you may not, let’s see.”
My father said he saw grey at first, and that had made him happy. Grey was better than black. With time, he saw other colours, shapes, words.
“What were you thinking at the time? How were you able to bear it? Did you think you’d be able to see?” I demanded of him, wanting to know details he kept locked away.
He told me he took a chance.
Genre: Personal essays and mostly-true stories
Optional prompt: Include a game involving dice