Friday, May 27, 2011

I Believe in Ghosts

I think everyone passed by that deserted old house with the broken windows and the beat down shutters and imagined that maybe it was haunted, maybe if we got too close we’d hear weird sounds. There were always the weird scratching sounds outside our windows when we’re home alone at night. Once, I went around the house holding this really huge torch because I was confused we had intruders and (as if) I was going to hit him on the head with it. We’ve all seen ghost movies going from Casper and ghost busters to movies like darkness falls, the ring, Gothika, and the grudge (that one was way too creepy to consider watching its sequel). I am also a huge fan of horror stories that happen to include ghosts or something like them almost all the time. I don’t believe in ghosts in the sense of all the above, that’s just entertainment and mind tricks. The ghosts I believe in are different.

I’ve gone through the unpleasant ordeal of having my father pass away when I was almost 11. Not a unique case, and not a pathetic case either. but even after his death, he was and always will be the most influential person in my life, and he will always be the person I look up to. My attachment to him does not come from the fact that he always played good cop while my mom played bad cop, or from the fact that he used to smuggle us toys. It comes from the fact that he was always the man who has not underestimated my intelligence. When I asked him to read Naguib Mahfouz at the tender age of eight years old (as a side note, does anyone know what age is NOT tender?), he gave me a Naguib Mahfouz book. When I told him I didn’t like it, he recommended Ehsan AbdelKoddous instead. He has led a marvelous life, full of achievements and love. He has been a role model for so many people, it would only be natural that he is mine. And even though he did not “raise me by hand” as my mom had done, and to whom I will forever be grateful, he has planted so many seeds in me that he never got the time to see grow. I only wish they grew well. As a result, should there ever be a ghost in my life, it is his.

I think it’s time I explain what my ghosts really are, note that I said what not who. My ghosts are a manifestation of my conscience. In my case, my ghosts are the people who I don’t want to let down, my father, God rest his soul, would be the most prominent but he’s not the only one. We all know the difference between right and wrong. We, however, make up excuses to make the wrong feel less wrong and the right feel tougher. We do this to ourselves easily, daily. We fight it sometimes and go along with it at other times. We try to keep God in mind, but we don’t always have the faith to do that. So for me, I make up my ghosts of the people whose opinions I care about the most, like my father in most life issues, and my prep school English teacher who would throw a fit if she knew how my grammar is slipping.

Whenever I have to take action on something I’m not quite sure of, I imagine my father and his opinion, I’d look at his picture and try to imagine: what would he think and what would he say. At one point in time, the only way I was able to get myself to take a certain life decision was by imagining having a prolonged conversation with my dad. He was of course silent throughout the entire thing, I am not that crazy, but I was able to tell how he would react by the way I told him the events. There were things that were difficult to tell because I knew, were he really there, he wouldn’t have approved. Other things I said loudly and proudly because I knew he’d feel proud of me. I didn’t make up too many excuses because I knew that if I wasn’t all that convinced, he wouldn’t be either. Did it help? It’s a twisted way of facing our own selves through the teachings of those who helped shape our personalities, so yes it did. In reality, I was a child when my dad died, I don’t have the slightest idea how he would react to the topics of an adult daughter, and judging from some of the stories my mother tells me, he probably wouldn’t react as I think he might have were he around. However, I am having conversations with what I have come to think of him through what he has taught me and through his way of life as I’ve seen it. In a way, I’m having a conversation with the part of me that manifests what my father has taught me, without regard to other “life lessons”. In other words, it’s my imagination of a set of lessons learned through one channel, and I will stop explaining here because the next statement would probably be an equation.

To sum up, there are people in life we do not want to disappoint, and not just by doing wrong things, but by doing things that do not fit very well with our culture or our upbringing; things that would disappoint those whose opinions we care about. These people and their lessons are the ghosts that live inside us, the ones we carry throughout our lives. There will always be that teacher who has advised us through tough times, that family member who has been there when others weren’t, and to me, that parent who has never treated me like a child even though he spoiled me rotten. We all have our ghosts that we need to conjure when the right time comes. Earlier today, I didn’t have a life issue that needed me to conjure up my dad, but I was taking a walk and thought why not have him come along and discuss life, the universe and everything. it was a nice walk and I enjoyed the company of my ghosts Smile

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