Whereas other children climbed onto their father’s knee to be regaled with Alice’s adventures and other assigned age-appropriate reading material, I was given The Rise and Fall of the Human Empire – a lesson in the importance of being earnest.
He would break into his stories wherever we happened to be:
between juicy mouthfuls of apple chunks at the park;
between the press of hurrying bodies on Oxford Street;
between spelling and that night’s trigonometry homework.
And it was an epic in the telling: covering my childhood and my aging in volumes of rare beauty and poetry.
Now of course, I am older – as he is again. And though no longer fit on his knee, the narratives continue. And as I age, I begin to realise how brave he was to entrust those tales to me: to show himself as he had been; and in doing so, to build in me a spirit of adventure.
And so I offer these simple chapters in return for a lifetime of honesty. That he may know:
that I listened and learned – even when there was no proving what it was that I learned;
that his tales helped me live through the light and the darkness – teaching me to acknowledge the one and not to fear the other;
that he taught me the love of words: to treasure them, and to be true in what I shared of myself in my words.
Dedicated to: Daddi – because you chose to be true and lived by that choice despite history and fate: thereby teaching me that I was capable of doing the same. Thank you.
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