The mask | Teen Ink

The mask

January 24, 2011
By joeb1 GOLD, Keswick, Other
joeb1 GOLD, Keswick, Other
15 articles 4 photos 5 comments

The mask stared out across the room. It had large, wide eyes, a small nose and a gaping, well pronounced mouth. Intermittent splashes of vibrant colour shot out from its dark, wooden finish and its pure, animal simplicity held dominion over the room like a burning torch in a cave.
To be honest, Joe had a lot of unusual objects littering his wall like newspaper cuttings in a scrapbook. Some, like the mask were awe inspiring, whilst others, admittedly, were quite simply tat. Nevertheless, the bright, multicultural decor which covered his bedroom wall like a maze, pleased him and always reminded him of the world and his ambitions and the fact that despite what might be happening around him, there was more. Much much more.
As he lay in bed, unable to sleep as had been the way lately, Joe would often look up at the wall, his imagination conjuring up images of African tribesmen dancing, of Canadian Inuit’s hunting down the wild buffalo, of Greek philosophers holding up charms to ward away evil spirits and then he would be transported back to his room, to see it all, the content of his wishes, the ingredients of his ambitions, clinging to his wall, surrounding him, a huge dream catcher which watched over him as he slept.
A lot of the artefacts, Joe had collected himself, the wall itself, as good as any travel brochure. He had a painted canvas from Gambia, a mask from Sri Lanka, cuckrieves from the Ghurkhas in the Philippines, a good luck charm from Zacynthos, empty shell cases from former Yugoslavia and much more. All of these simple objects had been slowly gathered from his travels, each reminding him of a specific experience, each holding a specific memory. And each and every one reminding him. Reminding him of his dad.
None of this would have been possible, none of it even within comprehension without him. It had been his money which had funded the trips, his eye which had picked out many of the items and his wisdom which had led Joe to construct this intricate web of memories in the first place. He owed it all to him, and he had never had the chance to admit it. Or at least, he’d never had the chance to acknowledge it and thank his father properly.
Now all that was left of that man, once so loud, once so...real, was a small photograph, a moment preserved forever, of the two of them in Thailand holding up fish, each smiling, happy, care free, naive. The fact is that cancer is always unexpected. It is always devastating and it always has an unhappy ending. Sure, you can survive, you can get over it sometimes, but even if you are lucky enough to beat it once, the lingering thought, that small niggle in the back of your head which is always waiting, always anticipating...that never goes. That is never overcome.
Joe’s dad had always said that if nothing else, the most important thing in this life is to be remembered. It doesn’t matter what for, it doesn’t matter by whom, it simply matters that you are. It had always sounded like a strange idea to Joe, but in these last two years, he was beginning to understand.
Memory is the only way in which people live on. The only way we survive beyond our own death, our own end. Other people’s thoughts remain and they always will, no matter whether they remember us as friends or foes, lovers or leavers. We will live on and so in many ways, that was how Joes father lived on. Through his thoughts, his wall, his mask. Dad, this is for you.

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