An Orphan’s Freedom

An Orphan’s Freedom

Translated from Spanish by Sarah Moses

Published on


here’s a dream I used to have over and over again. My father was alive. Eighteen years had passed since we’d seen each other and I’d find him. Dad wasn’t surprised or glad to see me. I felt he’d been avoiding me. The fact that we were together again seemed to be a problem for him, he wasn’t happy about it. I complained that he hadn’t tried to find me, that he hadn’t been in touch for all those years. Dad hardly listened to me. He was with his wife, who looked at me coldly. I hated her more than ever. Dad wasn’t in good health. She’d been taking care of him. But Dad had been buried, I’d seen it with my own eyes. I’d watched how the coffin was lowered before we covered it with earth. He’d only been down there for a few days, they told me.

In another version of the dream I travelled to Rome, where my father had lived for the last nine years of his life. Strangely, as I walked around the Piazza Navona, I came across my father’s home, an apartment in Rome that was different from the one he’d actually lived in. The apartment in my dream had lower ceilings and looked like one you’d see in Buenos Aires. I was furious because they hadn’t asked me to stay with them. How could it not matter to him that I was in Rome?

In all these dreams Dad wasn’t very healthy. But I never really knew what was wrong with him. It was hard to grasp. Another time I dreamed I’d found him after twenty years. Twenty years and I hadn’t seen him. I’d phoned him dozens of times, and he never answered. I wished email had existed back then. I figured I might have been able to find him if I’d had his address. ―If only I’d had his email, if only I’d had his email, I thought in the dream. I’d awake exhausted from the tireless effort searching for my father in my dreams. I was close, several times I was close, but I could never reach him. In two days, twenty years would have passed since the death of my father. I felt pressure to keep his memory alive. It was getting harder and harder. Each year he slipped further away. Some nights when I had the dream my sister shared a piece of information about my father with me. She’d been able to get in touch with him. I’d get really mad at her because she hadn’t given me his phone number earlier. Dad’s answers, if I was able to get him to say anything, were vague, confusing. He appeared despondent, as though he wasn’t interested in seeing me. Dad died when I was twelve years old. After more than twenty years had gone by I stopped keeping track. It’s been a while since I’ve dreamed of him, alive or dead. Today is Father’s Day. I don’t feel compelled to look for a surrogate father anymore, nor do I wish I could be with him to day. He is probably resting in peace, while I enjoy an orphan’s freedom.