“The question, son is simple and must be answered: why?”

The temperature in the inside of my mind is rising to the point I’m experiencing fever-like symptoms, a penetrating sense of malaise enveloping my body as the discussion reaches the familiar-inevitable impasse. This is the customary conclusion of the interactions between my father and me for several years now. There appears to be no escape from it. The questions posed by the man who gave me birth pierce my brain and stir the scattered contents of my soul in a way that feels more like being interrogated.

I’ve struggled throughout the years to make him understand some fundamental truths, not only about me, but life in general. I had to strive to convince him that a man is more than his worst deed. That the fall many times heralds the ascent. Around me, darkness begins to settle and if I turn my head upwards, I can see the constellations of the stars shining above me in a futile attempt to enlighten me, revealing the answers that would put an end to this perennial, painstaking procedure.

“I don’t know, Dad. You must respect that. I never claimed that I’m a wise person. On the contrary. Things make sense as you go, even if you can’t translate your worst experiences into words that form a definitive meaning. Besides, the question itself is too general, too abstract. Why did I destroy the better part of my youth opting for the decadence that stems from the incessant chase of the next high, the next cheap thrill? I can give you myriads of reasons, but none will satisfy you.”

I know he doesn’t ask out of curiosity. Despite his detached manner and overall aloofness that marked my childhood, I’ve never considered Dad’s love towards me to be a moot point, open to debate. Children, and humans in general, sense love through various mediums, and I never ever felt any shortage of intimacy as I was growing up. Even though he wasn’t much of a talker, he had a knack for touching both me and my brother, paternal gestures that become etched on the child’s heart and memory forever. Tactility evolved to be our secret non-verbal language, effectively communicating intimacy. Even when words failed to emerge from his mouth and materialize into something solid, his pats and strokes served as an affirmation of love.

“But you have to kiddo. If you don’t, you are condemned to repeat your transgressions and stay miserable for life. Salvation doesn’t always wait around the corner to redeem you. Try to remember that.”

I know that these words make him bleed inside. It was such a tribulation for all the family. Me losing myself in the ecstasy of chemicals, descending in a downward spiral that seemed to permeate time itself. The cost had been grave for all of us. We were all leaden with sorrow for several years, Dad was always beside me, albeit in his own distinctive manner; a solid, quiet presence that would never falter. He never let himself be convinced that his son is a lost cause. A hopeless junkie who didn’t give a toss whether he lived or died. Nevertheless, he never managed to transcend himself. Connect in a meaningful way with his boy. As time would prove, this would be his last chance.

“Then Dad, you will have to settle with this: perhaps because pain was my destiny, I had to endure to be able to write. You know, they say that happiness writes white. Literature demands suffering, conflict, drama in order to be born. And it isn’t enough to observe the agony of the others; you have to experience it first-hand. So, maybe twenty years from now, I will make my living as an author, and I won’t even need to answer your question anymore.”

“Son, I would prefer for you to be happy and loved. Never forget the old saying, “Rich are the loved.” The mental and emotional burden that creativity entails is too much for me as a father to accept for my own flesh and blood. Experience life with all your senses, there is no need to keep the minutes of your own existence. I’m older and more seasoned than you. Please — listen to your dear father. You don’t have to be in pain to be successful in what you aspire to do.”

“Dad, the wheels had been set in motion since I was a baby. There is no going back now.”

“No, I don’t accept that. I won’t leave you rest until you’ve grasped the magnitude of my question and the reason for my persistence.”

“Then, it is next week again. Or, perhaps sooner? Could it be even tomorrow?”

“That’s up to you, Son”

I button up my cardigan as I feel shivers running down my spine. It always happens when talking to Dad. All symptoms of the disease. My shrink told me that it would ease as time went by, so I can only hope for the best. As a gust of wind infiltrates my winter gear, I stand up and stare at the austere grave’s inscription: “True to his inner demon.” Wasn’t that quote written on Jim Morrison’s tomb?

Anyway, as I start walking slowly towards the cemetery’s exit gate, I find myself wondering: how many forms and shapes can a demon take? Dad’s interior spirit made him distanced: from his family, his children, even his own life to a certain extent. Mine, on the other hand, led to a feast of abuse which cost me my sanity. Do our lives intersect? And even if I find the answer to this question, will I ever cease to talk to my long-gone sire inside my head? Is it possible to reconcile my ghostly anathema of a past self with the current one? These are my thoughts as I start strolling towards my house, a little more than 500 meters away from the graveyard.


Dimitris Passas is a freelance writer and the editor of the online magazine Tap the Line, in which he reviews books, movies, and TV series while also featuring articles, news, and Q+As with authors and artists. His academic background includes bachelor studies in sociology and a master’s degree in philosophy.