Bittersweet Ghosts

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An array of clothes line against the wall in one neat row like folks in a funeral procession: each business shirt possesses a unique design – striped or plain, white or black, thin or thick. The shirts are neatly ironed, absent of creases and wrinkles, and each have tags of their brand names sewed on the inside of the shirts, almost as if deliberately attempting to conceal the identity of its creator. The clothes exude a wave of my father's favorite cologne – a mysterious and masculine scent with a hint of spicy cinnamon. I catch a whiff of my father's scent and my mind wanders back to the countless nights when my father came into my room to kiss my forehead as I was sleeping, and whisper that his business trip would only take a few days and he would be back in no time. He knew I was pretending to be asleep, but I did not want to go through the process of saying goodbye again. Back in the closet, a mahogany cupboard stands tall. The surface is layered with dust, and on the shelves lays rows and rows of John Grisham novels intermixed with Newsweek magazines. Each book is aligned neatly against the shelf, adjacent to another book of a differing size, creating a slightly off-kilter look; put together, they become one to form a picture of a xylophone, or perhaps that of a heartbeat, shown on a cardiogram, with the peaks and lows represented by an alternating pattern of a tall book and its shorter counterpart. On the opposite side of the room stands a large plastic container pressed against the wall. In it are small bottles of shampoo, disposable Gillette razors with double blades that look like the mouth of a crocodile, and miniature bars of cream colored soaps – the amenities of the hotel life, or the tokens of my father's various homes in case he feels homesick.
At night when I am unable to fall asleep, I tiptoe into this very room, silently preventing the wake of my father’s ghost. As I enter the room, I attempt to penetrate my father’s guarded life and to seek familiarity that I have longed. I lie down on the carpet and relax, forgetting any inner commotion. For a brief moment, this closet radiates an unusual aura: that of comfort and security, in which I can confide in and feel a connection to. It seems to zoom in on a small portion of my dad's inner identity, hidden by his stern exterior. I carefully scan the room and behind the rows of business shirts, a white shirt printed with black and red words reading, "I Love NY" reveals itself. This was a Christmas present I had given my dad few years ago. His initials are N.Y and I thought it fitting and somewhat amusing to give him the shirt. However, as minutes pass, the NY shirt gets lost behind the mob of business shirts. The smell of his spicy cinnamon cologne begins to waft away, getting absorbed into the carpet. The carpet suddenly becomes so stiff and uncomfortable that I can no longer lie down in tranquility. The room begins to grow darker and darker, and the momentary reassurance I have gained from my father’s presence turns into nothing but mere imagination. I am abandoned once again, left with nothing but the flat, linear line of the cardiogram, humming monotonously without any signs of life.





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