by ale

A rare escape. An escape from school; from broken friendships, piles of assignments. People are waiting on me, for answers, confirmations, but I am uncontactable. The air is chilly here, a break from the unbearable heat. Rare, because I should be home. But this was a sudden decision, and I will be overseas while most are studying.

We were meant to visit my second aunt, but I’ve been more of a tourist than a relative these past few days. I write this as we drive back to the city. It’s 5.30 and the sun is setting. the absence of clouds account for the lack of golden hues. No gorgeous sunset, no streaks of red or gold reflected off orange clouds. The entire sky is a canvas of gentle light blue. It seems to decolour as it reaches the far end of the horizon, until whiteness surfaces, and a final streak of mellow red kisses the land. The land is flat, a carpet of endless green plains with occasional bare and lonely shrubs. I stare at this portrait of blue, grey, red then green, from my left side window.

We’ve been on the road the entire afternoon, stopping at farms, confectioneries and small towns along the way. I am used to roadtrips. We usually rent a 7-seater and explore the nearby countryside, stay out a day or two before returning to the city.

“If a kangaroo suddenly jumps out onto the road, don’t scream. Okay, don’t scream. Cause if you panic, I might steer right and lose control of the car.”

“Then what? Hit the guy?”

“Yeah. There’s nothing you can do.”

We passed at least three dead kanga’s on our trip down south. My dad’s been driving for two hours straight. “There’s nothing you can do.”  It rings in my head. We’re late for a barbecue and he’s speeding back to the southern suburbs. Daddy’s my main man. He knows everything. He knows how to respond in all situations. He knows reasons, observes trends and he stays cool (unlike mothers). I trust him, he keeps my feet grounded.

Yesterday morning he drove the car to the edge of the woods, and we walked. Just the two of us. We walked through tall thin trees and came to the edge of a farm. And for the first time I heard a cow moo, a kukabara laugh and basked in the goldenness of the wide empty land. He always pulls me out of bed to see the sunrise. When I was 6, he took me to walk along the shore at low tide. When I was 10 he took me to walk between the cold melting ice. I like our moments. Only we would bother to drag ourselves up at 7am to bask in the cold outdoors and be embraced by the first light of day.

Last night he drove the family out to see the stars. We stopped along an empty lane, outside a vineyard, and craned our necks to gaze at the glistening fairy dust above us. No one wanted to get out of the car, they were annoyed at this creepy impromptu car ride to a deserted farm lane. So I stood outside with him in the cold air.

“Look at that, you can see the milky way, right across there.”

Fairy dust was scattered across the entire black sky, and they twinkled, showering their beauty over the vineyard. The half moon was exceptionally bright, as if it was watching us, protecting us from the woods. I felt like I was in a dome, under a ceiling of a million tiny LED lights. There was too much to see. No matter how long I stared, I could not fully conceive the scene of a million dancing lights in the dark sky, and I loved him for that.

My dad fostered my love for the wild outdoors. He opened my eyes to the world, both the city and the countryside. He is knowledgeable, though he claims not to be smart. His wisdom comforts me, to know that I can depend on him gives me security. I am always waiting for him to bring me on our next adventure.

But he is getting old. He has lost weight, his cheeks are shrunken, his hair seems to have lost its volume, and for once, he looks small. Some say he looks younger as he ages. But one things for sure, ageing can’t be stopped.

“There’s nothing you can do.”

The fragility of life. Soon this trip will become another memory, and the hair on my fathers head will vanish.

“Just hit the guy?”.

Take it in. As we speed down this highway, we can’t stop, don’t even try to. Least you crash and hurt yourself. Time is not to be meddled with.

Boldly, I face the sorrows that are yet to come.

“There’s nothing you can do.”