Author: Mithran Ladhania, Class IX D
Ignoring the minute cuts and bruises his old, shaky palms received, the man brushed away the shattered glass and the brown leather frame. With the greatest of care, he picked up the glossy piece of the sepia-colored paper. Large pieces of glass from the frame had somehow embedded themselves in the photo.
The largest piece, long and horizontal, had torn right through the face of his father. The previous state of the photo was irretrievable now.
His body had run far too dry at this age, to let tears flow down his wrinkled, sagging face. So he simply crouched over the corpse of this last remnant of his past, all that connected him to his old man.
He could still see the face of his young self smiling as if he were recalling one of his father’s sea stories. What part of his father he could still see in the photo was his stark white uniform, captain’s hat tucked neatly under one elbow.
He tried to recall the face of his old man, the mirth in his expressions, the twinkle in his eye, the pearly white sailor’s smile he had grown so used to in his young years.
He couldn’t recall it. With the photo gone, every last bit of his father had vanished from the world. The grief couldn’t be contained anymore.
“No … no no, I’ve lost him… lost him… gone!”
Small beads eventually ran down those cheeks, face crumpling the way it hadn’t for decades. But there was no one to share the old man’s grief.
* * *
He knew it wasn’t the child’s fault. He was far too young to even realize what had happened. He did not completely forgive his grandson for the incident, either.
As the tears faded away, leaving trails of salt, the man adjusted himself in his wooden armchair. Distinctly, he could remember what his father had said after the death of the young boy’s mother.
“Come with me, son, and we shall trudge this beach.”
“Yes, father,” he had sniffled.
“Each one of us leaves marks upon this sand, not one goes along this path without leaving a trace. See this sea? How close it seems, doesn’t it? One day, son, one day, the sea will get closer. So close that it will wash away every mark you make on this sand.
The waves will one day come for me, they will one day come for you. We will disappear from this world. But until that day, I have you, my son!”
From his perch overlooking the setting sun over tumultuous blue water, the old man saw what the sea had done.
“The waves have come for you, Father. And they have come for me.”