Did he pass already? Why had he come back? In my dreams... (March 15, 2023)
“For years, I ain’t get shit. I’m coming back for all of it.”
And just like that a younger version of my biological father entered my mother’s house. My father was in his 20s, lean, muscular, determined. I, in my current “dad-bod” adult body, thought I had seen a ghost. When did he get out?
There he was, no longer in his 50s, standing before my grandmother and me. His calm demeanor scared me the most. For a man I hadn’t seen in more than 25 years, he didn't appear agitated, angry, or inaccessible.
“I’m taking all this shit,” he said as he walked by me, into the heart of my mother’s house, surveying all of the material wealth, familial love, and civilian life he had missed out on.
“Grandma, go into the room!” I demanded. While my pistol-toting, cotton-picking grandmother was no punk back in her day, I had to protect her. She had protected me all these years. The 90s kid in me felt like I was entering a surprise boss fight. The initial shock from his appearance severely drained my imaginary health bar.
As a toddler, I withstood his shadow attacks; learning how to walk without my biological father made it difficult to speed-run through the difficult stages of my life, especially when his absence created a void for both of us to see one another in each other’s darkness.
As I stood frozen at the door, my father took slow, methodical steps through the living room. Like a child, both of us were learning how to walk again. And before I could follow in his footsteps, a stampede of boys charged past me, bringing me to my knees. I was not praying or surrendering to this man, not today, maybe not ever. Arrogant.
At a glance, I could tell we were all made in his image. The boys ranged from ages 8 to 17; all of the boys had my face. Blink once, I mean his face. Blink twice. His ravenous eyes. Blink again. I saw avoidance behavior. These disciples were technically my siblings--his sons from all the other relationships after his time with my mother.
What was I to do? I was no match for the Black Yujiro Hanma, the one who somehow survived his many bouts with his own narcotic demons; the one who somehow negotiated a deal with the heavens or the underworld to pay one last visit to his second-born; nonetheless, the one immortalized by his creations.
It was just me, not including my 80-year-old grandmother. Where had I wronged him? Where had he wronged me? What had went wrong? Just because he rarely crossed my mind did not mean he didn't live there–in my mind. Who knew? From what I remember, he did his dirt and his white in the dark, not around his children. Respectable.
I can’t imagine the mental and physical fitness necessary to battle one’s own inner and outer children. Ironically, the absence of his own father was the lethal injection, for the drugs took place of the fatherlessness; the drugs took life out of my father and life away from my father. A life lost too young.
I can’t say I knew the man. He obviously knew me. Here he was, looking young, healthy, and fit as ever as if he had died and found the fountain of youth. All those years of incarceration and injections had no impact on his resurrection and this insurrection.
“For years, I ain’t get shit.” He kept repeating, ever so calmly like someone in control of himself and the situation. And for years, I did not give him shit. Not one single call, not one single text, not one single word. Maybe I owed more to my maker. Maybe he deserved both my silence and my prayers…was I up too high in White America to lower my head for him? How black was my heart? How sacred is father’s bleeding heart?
We had no relationship, just the will to survive. My last memory was him in a prison jumpsuit, asking for some “sugar.” I declined then, and I gag now from just the thought of that request. At a young age, I denied him love and connection when he was most vulnerable, most alienated, and most inaccessible.
Like Jesus, my father had lived among the lepers, crooks, and the living dead most of his life, hence he was back at the forefront of my mind with such eerie poise.
Unfortunately, I thought about taking him on, one on one, fist to fist, man to man. With the physique of a body-builder, my father would have strung me up just to put me down, effortlessly; not to mention, his sons showed no signs of double-crossing their maker; if anything, they were there to spread his gospel and his gametes. I was the weakest son–the defiant one who questioned father’s existence. Now, he had returned, reincarnated, redeemed, replenished, and ready for retributive justice.
Quick thought. I had to call up my brothers, the ones I actually grew up with under the same roof, under the same household rules, and under the same fear of god; however, as I took my eyes off of him to search my body for my phone, I saw something long and yellow out of my peripheral. It was a bright yellow crowbar in his hands.
Oh no. Would he strike his second-born? Well, damn, even after all of these years, I am still my father’s son. I, too, thought about striking him with whatever I could find in the kitchen. Again, father hung around the outcasts, and I was no different.
Shit, I am a teacher, a talker, a ticking time bomb. I know how to welcome, wield and or weaponize my words: “Hey, let’s talk like men.” Traditional or toxic masculinity activated…I stepped to him in a face-off, setting in motion our mirror match, our title fight. Who would win the title and carry on the name? That's White.
Looking directly into my eyes, he smiled like a smug Vegeta, a true warrior who knew he had the upper hand over his son. He then averted his eyes and began talking on some earpiece, which I apparently missed upon his remarkable return into my psyche.
“I heard your mother and XXXX is making all of this money.” The way that he said my step-father’s name made me feel dirty inside, ashamed, and disappointed that I may not be able to protect all that my mother and step-father had worked for. All of my parents’ prized possessions, including me, could have perished this day.
As he continued to give commands on what looked to be some bluetooth earpiece, resembling a Dragon Ball power scouter, I finally found my iPhone. I frantically searched through my contacts. I even left my father to go check on my grandmother, who was seated in my childhood room with her head in her hands, her face hidden.
I repeatedly typed in each of my brother’s names, and no number popped up. No lie, I felt like Gohan, watching Cell Juniors frolic and pillage my mother’s house; I never thought I would see colonization so up close, with my own two eyes, especially by the hands of my own siblings,my own flesh and blood (technically).
Just then, I heard a truck engine stop. One of my “siblings” opened the door to reveal some round man with a moving truck behind him. I quickly shut the door and locked it.
I had to do something. I had to protect my house, my sanity, my loved ones. If I didn't stop him now, there was no telling when he may have popped up next.
I took a deep breath and approached him again. “Let’s talk!” I roared. My words stopped my father in his tracks. I wasn’t expecting to get his attention like that but he definitely heard me. Side-note: as I share this dream, I can't help but hear Tupac: “I ain’t no…but don’t...”
I was tempted by the dark side, and father didn’t look as if he wanted to kill me with kindness, either. Flashback. When I was little, like 'Pac, I remember Marvin Gay used to sing to me, had me wondering "What's going on?"
I don’t know where they came from, but I turned away one more time from my father and saw my oldest and youngest brother, the ones I actually grew up with, sitting on the couch steaming, as if helpless during this takeover.
Relieved, I dashed over to my brothers. I could feel my father’s eyes locked on me. With my back to him (bold move), I stared deeply into the watery eyes of my brothers.
I cleared my throat: “We gotta push! We gotta push!” Of course, I am a big personality wherever I go; however, I am not a natural leader. I will step up when needed. My brothers said nothing; their eyes said it all. We broke from our little huddle, stood up, and marched toward the man in my dreams.
As we surrounded the boss, with me square in the middle, face to face with him, my father smirked and looked at all three of us, as if to say (in the spirit of a true warrior): “Bring it on!”
I turned to each of my brothers and pounced….
My eyes open. I wake up with a heaviness in my head and in my chest.
I may have escaped with my life but not without questions:
Who or what am I fighting?
Where had he been locked up for the last decade or so?
When and where was he released? When would I be released?
How much longer could I avoid the void?
Had he passed? Had he forgiven me? Had I forgiven him?
Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy Will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”
So What: extended commentary
It was all a dream. I used to....not think about him all the time. Boy yea right. At the moment, I can't stand myself, so I'm sitting with the following reflection questions:
How many of us, Black boys and Black men, are fighting ourselves in the forms of ghosts, fears, and absent father figures?
How many of us have an imprisoned inner child, stripped of joy and boiling in anger?
How many of us are holding on to disappointment instead of holding on to our parents?
How many of us have the capacity and the will to forgive and release?