“You know what’s funny, Mel?” he began with his usual drunken smile fixed on his face.
Whenever he came home after a few beers, his face would develop this wide and obstinate grin. This grin of his would spread itself across almost the entire width of his lower jaw, and push the outworn flesh of his cheeks right to the space below his deep, tired eyes. His voice was sonorous and steady, but yet gentle in its own peculiar way.
He said, “The same day you get paid, the same day you become broke.”
A profound silence condensed itself into the atmosphere immediately after these words broke from his mouth. I wondered throughout the endured quietude whether there was a deeper metaphor to grasp from this comment. Something like, ‘Happiness is but for only a short moment.’
Grin still on show. It was almost disconcerting how adamantly this expression of his would remain on his face no matter how bleak the subject matter which flowed from him was.
“If I was a selfish man…”,
Now, his grin very discreetly toned down a few notches on one side of his face as he lowered his eyes to the floor.
“I would be far better off, I think. In terms of comfort.” He paused, looked up to me in the eyes, then said, “But I wouldn’t feel right in my heart.”
The expression on his face suggested he was tussling with an exceedingly complex wire of thoughts in his own head for a moment. He then let out a heavy sigh and placed his hand on my bedroom door-handle as though about to exit.
“Anyway, son, let me not bore you any more. But I will leave you with this:…”
In that same instance, the intensity in his eyes grew.
“Don’t, I tell you, don’t give up hope. That is one thing humanity really cannot afford to do.”
I digested these words carefully. He continued:
“Hope is really the only thing that keeps us going. Whether we realise it or not. Hope that tomorrow will be better. Hope that we might finally wake up one morning and witness our breakthrough. Hope that after we’ve trudged our way through this weary and – bluntly put – unpleasant, life, we will eventually one day get to a point where we can turn around, behold how far we’ve come, and say to ourselves, ‘This is indeed what I hoped for. This is the life that I’ve always wanted to live.'”
And he left. At that moment I looked to a void spot between me and the wall opposite me without a word for some thirty seconds, and pondered all of what he’d said.