Sepia: Part III
In his latest e-mail, after reading the last two 'chapters' , David says I need to do two things in writing this : one is to talk about the 'MacGuffin'.
He seems to have an astonishing memory for all sorts of things, whether it is an obscure pop song, an old film reference, a book or an author – literally anything. That was one of the things that made me like him. His confident exterior and flirty demeanour would’ve easily made me dislike him as a macho narcissist. But he was full of surprises.
He says, underneath it all, there is a bookish nerd waiting to get out and talk to someone who will ‘get’ him. He says he is a 'White Knight' waiting to be rescued. It's hard to say if he is joking or for real, but there is no doubting his 'Nerd' know-how.
I asked him what a MacGuffin was. He says it is a plot device or an artefact that everyone is seeking, or something around which a plot revolves. Apparently Alfred Hitchcock coined the phrase to describe the plot devices in thrillers whether it is a bunch of ‘secret papers’ everyone is after, ‘a nuclear device’ waiting to be disarmed or something like ‘Rosebud’ in Citizen Kane. David says I shouldn’t forget to introduce the MacGuffin early as otherwise this whole attempt to write it all down will make no sense.
I ask him if perhaps, he was the MacGuffin. He didn't answer but sent a smiley on the e-mail back.
I am not so sure. He seems to think this is some form of literary catharsis, some attempt to exorcise my demons on paper. Maybe he is right, maybe I am trying to make sense of me and my life. Maybe I should just stop, delete this file and hear the little crunching noise it makes when it goes into the Recycle Bin and get on with my life.
Anyway, about the photograph.
My father suffered from the photographer’s fate. He rarely ever appeared in pictures as he was always behind the camera. My mother refused to take one as she felt that she may ‘muck it up’ and ‘will never be good’ at it. She didn’t even try.
While there were hundreds of pictures of me and my mother together or separately, there was only one picture of my dad and me that was left over from my mother’s accumulated clutter. I wondered if there were others and whether she destroyed them in one her fits of hysteria. I couldn’t find any wedding pictures either.
I can never get rid of it. His head is half cut off, presumably he must have persuaded my mother to take it and she managed to 'muck it up' in a self fulfilling prophecy. But I can just see from the angle of his head, the way his arms were holding me and the smile on his lips that he did, really love me.
Like all old photographs it was fading. Like my memory of him. Like my hope. Like my faith in fatherhood.
White Knight, Black Knight
The second thing David asked me to do is introduce him in the story. “Everyone will be wondering who I was and what I was to you. You keep mentioning me all through. Which is cool, but can I get a neat intro- scene? We've known each other for three years... that's a lot of interaction. Which one would you pick?"
Yes, which one?
Will I pick the first time I ever saw him, striding down the corridor in his slim cut Paul Smith suit and tie, confident yet endearing, his eyes dark and deep like pools of chocolate?
Will I pick the time he burst into the Neurosurgical theatre as I was struggling with a particularly bad Glioma and saved the day in his surgical scrubs, all calmness and logic, steady hands and seriously good surgical skills?
Or will I pick the time he found me crying in the darkness of the on-call room, quietly sobbing in the corner for no reason at all. He never asked any questions, just shushing me and pulling my head onto his chest, fixing my hair and waiting for me to calm down and only tell him what it was if I wanted to.
It wasn’t hard to get a crush on him - you only have to hear the dozen or so assorted nurses and junior doctors sigh as he walks past. He was handsome, accomplished and confident.
pretended to remain steely and didn't quite engage with his flirts, knowing that I shouldn't be one of his entourage, his bevy of besotted blondes and brunettes. I knew when time came, we may connect. And if it happens it happens. I have never trusted men, anyway. I was right not to make a fool of myself.
Or will I pick the time he brought a box of the most scrumptious cakes to the office and announced his engagement?
No I think I'll stick to the linearity and bring him in as he found me again, in my corner of the on- call room, staring into the darkness. He seemed to have a zoning instinct for my moods. Thankfully I wasn't sobbing like a baby. Just reeling from the shock of what just happened.
"Hey. What happened?" He sat across, leaning forward his eyes fixed on my face, his hands clasped in front, a little lock of his dark black hair across his forehead. I could smell him. A hint of musk, a waft of Terre D'hermes his favorite aftershave amidst all the hospital odors of antiseptics and industrial detergent.
"I think I may have found my father."
© 2012 Mohan Kumar
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