he is too old to raise his voice now. these days he won’t even look in the mirror, afraid of a withering reflection. the father spends most of his days in creaking chairs, the head of the table, an old desk chipping at the corners. what else can his old body do but sit
or walk, slowly, in the mornings with his wife toward the loud center of their awakening city, stopping traffic, the middle-aged Brown couple sport ergonomic rubber shoes bought in her Indian hometown, he listens as she talk about decreasing the salt, the oil and the taste in his meals to share more years together lined faces, grey hair matching her silver, they are spending every year drawing new limits to patience, but for now they walk on a long, rocky road, and the shoes help with balance.
before she leaves, his daughter scurries through the room, has lost a tube of lipstick, the watch he once owned, a blue wallet, heavy with coins like all his pockets, like discarded keyboards (she has inherited his hoarding of metal gadgets), he is watching her spin loudly around the large room, wondering if she has forgotten his presence there like forgetting to breathe, watches her move, this two decade-old spark of energy he used to carry on his shoulder when his back could allow it, and she would fall asleep at his feet pretending to like the TV he watched.
the youngest in his house took three days to name, so they picked a simple one, he watches his son spend his days struggling to read and reread what he thought his sister finished so easily, never saw how she ran into the father’s room crying, almost every week for a year but his son, he grits his teeth in the name of the manhood he was destined for, the father cannot remember that age, it has been too long when the will to be taken seriously surpasses the urge to smile without reason, so instead his puts a hand on the kid’s sullen head, heavy with things unsaid and asks him to call his sister who can say ‘i love you’ without crying.