My daughter is the fog, wandering outside my window, in
the streets, under the street lamps. My daughter is the fog; profound,
mysterious and impenetrable. I have no idea how long it
has been since the fog roamed about, nor how far it has spread;
only that somewhere deep in its midst is my daughter.
Being a typical middle-aged father, I sit waiting in the living
room for my daughter’s return well into the night. Outside
everything is still, the fog comes and goes but there is still not
the slightest sound of my daughter’s footstep.
I had always thought that approaching fifty would be the
time when emotions would not be felt quite so keenly as before,
when the sharp extremes of emotional highs and lows would be
dulled. But as the night wore on without her safe return, I became increasingly ill at ease, as if she had failed to show up
for a long promised appointment.
The fog-filled window smothered all hope within my room.
She had only gone on a date with her boyfriend, yet it could be
compared to the longest of separations. Shouldn’t I go and
search for her in the fog? Or maybe try and fetch her in my car?
Uncertainty wandered in my brain like the fog, taking me back
to a trance that resembled first love, unrequited, when I would
long to say something but would be unable to utter a single
My daughter probably could never understand, as I her
father had probably never found the right way to express my
deep concern for her wellbeing, but the special kind of affection
and nurturing love I felt for her almost made me feel like a man
falling in love.
She wasn’t the most beautiful young woman in the world,
but in my eyes she had striking looks. Her long hair hanging
over her shoulders, she would tip-toe down the stairs so as not to
disturb me at work, sit down soundlessly in front of the piano
and softly begin to play that piece of waterside music. As the
notes rose and fell in melody, I could not help but shut my eyes
and listen enraptured. My daughter and I seldom had heart to
heart talks, but in the gesture and movement of her piano playing
there was a kind of dialogue between us.
Often we would both find ourselves at home in the afternoon,
each in our own corner of the house, the sun slanting in
through the windows. As the piano music drifted up to my study
from her room I would lean back in my chair, gently close my
eyes, and listen as the notes reverberated around my book-lined
study, as if a tiny pair of hands had taken a comb to my spreading
hair and begun to examine the griefs of each and every hair. The music gave the impression of running water or a gentle
breeze caressing my eardrums. Only when it ended with a thud
did I get the sudden feeling that my daughter had been having a
quiet dialogue with me.
At what point did I discover that my daughter had fallen
silent? When was it that I realized that this had become the
mode of dialogue between us? When I finally became fully
aware of these questions, she was already this striking young
woman with flowing hair. I would watch her back as she played
the piano and painfully regret the many such beautiful fleeting
moments, vanished almost without my noticing.
In the passing of the long months and years I must have
missed something; otherwise overnight why would I suddenly
discover she had grown up? Not only had she lost her baby
face, she had also constructed her own world that I could no
longer enter. Hearing her footstep on the stairs I looked up to
see a slender, fully figured young woman coming down the
stairs. Rubbing my eyes I told myself; “It’s definitely my
daughter, but when did she turn into a woman?”
It was three years ago when my wife hurriedly took me
aside and told me that our daughter’s period had come. For a
moment I couldn’t quite grasp exactly what these words meant.
I remembered that just three days before she had been climbing
trees in the backyard with her friend. Underneath the maple tree
she had bent down to pick up one of the first red maple leaves to
fall. The sun angled through the branches and shone on her
glowing face. She had asked me whether I would like to press
the leaf in a book, and had put it between the pages of the book I
opened for her. I thought these days would never end. I thought
that all I had to do was look out of the window and I would see
her playing out on the lawn. My daughter that now had her period didn’t seem in any way different from before. I buried my
head once more in mundane politics and literature, with the firm
belief that the sun would carry on shining on the lawn, . . . .