Sunday, July 8, 2007

Lamps of Hope

"Dad...What is glue ?"

I am used to this by now, having encountered literally thousands of similar questions over the weekend. I guess it is one of the many requirements of parenthood...dealing with unanswerable questions coming in quick succession. I should be irritated with the way things are going but I just look into those wide open eyes and their honest, limpid blue depths, and sigh...because I know that this is going to be one long afternoon.

"Glue is something that keeps other things together Son. We are going to use it to hold these sticks together and later when we put on the canvas cover. Now why don't you hold these two bits together while the glue does it's work..."

I watched those tiny hands struggle to keep the wood sticks steady as the glue set...The frown of concentration on his young brow...eyes on the job at hand, unwavering and hungry. We worked together for the next few hours assembling the slender wooden sticks, wire and canvas before standing back to admire the completed structure. The smile on his bright face told me that he was both happy and proud. His smile got wider when I told him that we'd be painting it right after tea.

I watched him wolf down his donuts, a practiced art of dipping them in his glass of milk only long enough to get them soft without breaking away into the glass. I tried the same with mine...inviting a disapproving glare from his mum when a large chunk of donut splashed into my glass. Several minutes were spent fishing around inside my glass for that elusive chunk as my son watched me, bemused. I left him to finish off his milk and went to fetch the spray-paint cans, decals and a tiny gas burning lamp that would be the final piece of the structure.

He skipped into the garden just as I was priming the cans. We decided on a base coat of white, followed by a coat of bright orange before applying the decals and other little bits and pieces of trim. I explained to him why we had to wait for each coat to dry before applying the next and he patiently worked on the paint with a blower to speed up the drying process. While he worried over the paint, I readied the gas lamp according to the manual and gave it a test burn to make sure everything was working the way it should.

When we were finally done...even I was impressed with what we had created from wood, wire and cloth. He helped me install the gas-lamp wearing his latex gloves and safety glasses. His mum brought out the camera and bossed us around while making pictures. As darkness set in I prepped the gas-lamp and held his hand as he lit it up with a huge grin tinged with anxiousness. He needn't have worried because the whole structure filled with a beautiful glow, showing off the colors we had painstakingly painted on and showing off the little bits of trim and the decals in the darkness of the night. As the air inside heated up, it began to rise up in the air and my son rose up on his feet in pride.

As the lamp rose higher and higher in the air, I held my wife's hand and we watched him out there in the darkness...unafraid...standing tall. I looked into her eyes and saw hope and a secret pride...I was proud of what my son and I had created...she was proud of what she and I had created...The difference was profound...and I held her closer.

Up above us, the lamp floated on...


Proma said...

Well written. Your writing keeps getting better. Keep the posts coming.

Like the tender ending as well.

Would have loved to see some more of the child's character built thru his reactions and actions(the donut dipping is so real !).

GS said...

The twist is - "I" am the child in this story...not the father. I am trying to narrate what a father/mother might feel in such a situation.

Thanks :)

Proma said...

Twist ? Sorry I missed it entirely while reading it. Where is the twist ? Or does it just mean that this is a story from your childhood ?

GS said...

There is no twist written into the story. This is how I expect it would be...I could be mistaken...but this would be nice eh?