I was half asleep, half awake. Then I was back to my hometown, at the old desolate, lonely adobe house. The time was at midnight, I did not go home to sleep but went to my neighbor’s house which was located directly behind our house with one flight of masonry stair connecting on the right side of the two houses. I could see from my neighbor’s yard that my brother was sleeping in the room where I had spent so many years of my boyhood. I was in the pitch dark, the atmosphere was suppressing, bleak and sorrowful. Then from the window of my parent’s room, came a flash light guiding my way to the big, heavy wooden door of my neighbor’s house, I could not distinguish by whom who was holding the flash torch, either my mom or my dad, but it did not matter, my heart was warmed and the bleakness was diffused by the light. Then I opened the door and tried to latch it, but the latch was broken, with some tethered digital gadget hanging, a couple of disconnected wires dangling, such a weird comparison between the ancient and the modern, then I tried to find a room to sleep, but every room was closed, there were people talking behind one door, and then I find a room with the door open, I looked inside, the house was as old as ours, as damaged as every house in the village, everything appeared broken and sorrowful. It was unbearably a sad atmosphere, dismal beyond measure, I wanted to shout, but I could not make a noise, I could not even breathe, every atom of the air was solidified and motionless, then I was startled to awake from the suffocation. I checked the time, it was 2:30 Am.
Such was a weird dream of mine occurred on not an unusual night but occurred in a place on a continent almost ten thousand kilometers away from my hometown. I tried to have a grasp of the meaning of it, the only warm element in the dream, the flash light stood out conspicuously among all of the dreariness. The care and concern from my parents have broken the spell that was ominously looming, the dream was short and seemed nothing of significance, but my mind was in turbulence. Among many mistakes I have made in my life, the greatest one must be the one that the time I have spent with my parents after marriage had been so little that I could count the days, and the time I did spend with my parents was so uneventful and unworthy that it was nothing compared to my parents increasing kindness and increasing helplessness. My father’s receding hairline, grizzled hair has been turning white, at last gathering, I observed that his once full-mouthed teeth had lost one of front teeth under his nether lip. There was bursting of air when he was speaking which somehow made his voice hollow and not articulate. The aging process of my father had been abrupt due to the interval of gathering had been wide. He had liver problem and stomach problem, the passing away of my great auntie and the recent diagnosis of cancer of my senior uncle affected him gravely and profoundly. There was worry and there was fear in his voice when he bore me of such bad tidings.
I was on the ferry boat, which was breaking and pounding waves, bore me to the international airport of Hongkong, from thence, the flight would take me to Ethiopia where I have been working. I called my father, he was at my brother’s home, taking care of my 11 years old niece, both of her father and mother are government officials, and both of them have been working far from the town. My mom was at the before mentioned old house in a mountain surrounded village where she was harvesting bamboo shoots, for it was the middle spring, the harvest has to be done quick before the bamboo shoots bursting into full length bamboo in no time. Over the phone, I told my father to take good care of himself and do physical check-up regularly to avoid certain diseases to become too advanced to be curable. He assured me of such should not be a concern of mine and no need of worry from my side. He then admonished me to be safe and act wise when working in Africa. I could feel the wistfulness and melancholy in his voice. The words were simple, but full of concern and care. I hung up the phone with an uncontrollable yearning to go to my parents momentarily. I wanted to quit whatever I was doing, whatever those were deemed necessary and important, I want to quit wholly and completely. From a certain perspective, they all seemed meaningless, iron cold and somehow brutal, was a career gained but at the sacrifice of a normal family life worthwhile? I keep wondering is life so hard as the family has to broke into pieces? These were tough questions which could not have a satisfactory answer at the moment. But the balance had been keep tilting towards the family.
And there were mean and selfish persons I had encountered, there were distressful and painful moments I had experienced, but the image of my parents and the old house have always been the surest way to give me comfort, courage, and a serenity of mind. The torch light from the window of my parent’s room, though appeared in my half awoken dream, is actually real physically in that they have been giving me light and direction, always a way out at some darkest moments. The emotional debt to my parents is getting heavier and becoming more and more imminent with each of the passing day, the dream is a sign for me to do something to make a change before it was too late. An peaceful night should be, was thus startled into a sleepless one by such a dashing and intruding dream, a dream of no complex plot, but bit of weirdo, very thought provoking, bearing so much meaning, ominously, auspiciously, or promisingly, can’t tell for sure, but an enlightening moment for sure, a glaring light of warning was shed profoundly on the status quo of my family relations. A lot of heavy thinking to do, and a lot of meticulous planning for the future to be worked out, the remaining of night was thus ruined for sleep and to be spent in such an unexpected and meaningful way……….