“How you met my father?”
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Monday, 18-12-2001, 6:22am
The wait was somewhat killing, and the air in and around the hospital was definitely getting more tense. I could feel the anxiety grow within me as it did in the others, but mine was borne out of pure exhaustion by the fact things just kept on getting confusing. My father was being treated as someone he wasn’t and I couldn’t let it out just yet. The respect, interest and care shown by the entire Army staffs and hospital nurses and doctors had begun to irk me.
They were running around for the wrong man and couldn’t still figure it out.
Finally, I heard the screeching sound of cars driving into the hospital’s surrounding. I ran to the window to see what it was or who they were as the crowd downstairs continued to roar in uncertainty about what was going on before their eyes. Upon extending my gaze through the window, I finally saw it; the visitors being waited for had just arrived and they did so in fashion and style.
Five luxury cars aligned in a straight file came to a halt with their tinted windows rolled up ad providing no view of the passengers within. Each car had flags of USA attached to the rear and forefront of the car while four of the five cars were similar in build, color and model. The first and last two cars on the row were Rolls Royce obviously custom made while the Maybach in the middle being the third car stood out.
It was the car the important personality obviously would be in while the other two would have enough guards with ammunitions to start a war should any threat arise or threaten to do so. The cars’ wheels were custom designed to withstand gunshots, with steel coated and plated rims shining brightly as well as the custom sized tires ready to travel through any terrain should the need arise.
My stomach sunk as I wondered who was in there. The setting looked fitting for a President, Senator or anyone of such political power. The wait for the men within the cars to step out was even more intense. It seemed they were waiting for a go or a command before they would do so, as the soldiers around swept through the perimeter once more to ascertain the safety of things. I couldn’t believe my eyes as my thoughts ran wild about my father and the misconception currently going on.
“This is getting out of hand”, I told myself without looking away from the glass window.
I hadn’t noticed it before, until I peeled my gaze towards the glass window further and it became quite evident to see. The entire bodies of the cars were obviously heavy armored with reinforced steel. It wasn’t making the car look bulky, but is sure was there to act as an extra layer of protective shield. Whoever the guest was, it was evident enough that there was enough protection to shield him or her from arm.
I remained petrified and startled at the same time. I waited with cold chills running down my spine as the doors slowly began to open in an orderly manner except for the one in the black Maybach. There was not action around it that I could see. The men stepping out from the Rolls Royce had guns and protective jackets covering their chests, with stringy wires running from their ears into their suits.
They were the Secret Service, and it hit me. I finally got a clue of who was in the car and was visiting my father for reasons I couldn’t see past being basically a misconception. They had gone through the entire ordeal for a phony possibly bearing the same name as the real man they hoped to honor. I wished I could tell them all. I wished I could reveal the mess and mistake they were all making, but the scenario simply continued to baffle me.
I began noticing crowds on either side of the cars. They seemed to have tailed it from wherever it was coming from, but kept their distance due to the armed men within it. I felt confused myself. I felt lost on what exactly was going on. It made no sense to me and it brought no understanding either. My face folded into a frown just as a hand silently crept unto my shoulder from behind.
It was Colonel Fabian’s and he had taken note of my frown and countenance.
“Are you okay?” he asked in a concerned tone.
I definitely wasn’t. I shook my head immediately without hiding anything.
“What is going on?” I asked. ‘Who are those people out there and why is the military roaming around my father and the hospital?”
“You will know soon dear”, he promised me, but I wasn’t taking his word for it.
I felt he was confused.
“You don’t understand”, I said to him. “That man there, my father, is nothing but an old drunk and not someone to be celebrated the way you guys are making the mistake to!”
He looked at me with a blank expression, and over my shoulders through the glass.
“My father never went to the military and he isn’t the man you think he is”, I strongly informed the man.
Colonel Fabian said nothing more. He turned around and walked away to welcome the man within the Maybach who had just stepped out. I heard the cheers and roars from the crowd, prompting me to turn around to see the President of the United States of America stepping out of the car. He was the one coming to see my father. The president of the country was paying my drunk of a father a visit.
The reasons purely eluded me as he walked right into the hospital with enough protective detail on him.
The president stepped inside the hospital with his security team which comprised of some CIA operatives as well as the Secret Service. They journeyed to the second floor through quick steps and adequate awareness of the surrounding. I was shocked when I saw the man walk towards me with his men surrounding him like a shield of protection. Right before me was the President of the United States of America, John Brooks.
My joints felt frozen and immovable, and my pulse raced intensely. I watched on with a rapidly beating heart, while my father was still clinging to his life desperately in his comatose condition. The doctors and nurses around looked stricken with worry and absolute concern as well as the important personality approached.
He was the first visitor, and the one who shook me to the bones without doubt. He walked briskly forward with Colonel Fabian while they shared a few chitchats without really looking worried. The Secret Service and CIA protective detail waited outside the room while both men walked into it. I stared at the man donning his black suit with ebony curly hair who looked a lot friendlier than he did on the television when I saw him.
I waited outside impatiently, stricken with worry as things had begun spinning out of control. Things were getting rather serious and disturbingly so too. I wanted to tell them; the president and Colonel Fabian. I wanted them to know the truth already and in a very convincing way even if I had to tell them of my father’s crazy nature and disregard for being a respectful man to anything or anyone but his bottle of whisky.
It was all I wanted to do before, but upon laying eyes on the President and being in such close proximity with the man, I decided against it. I couldn’t see myself doing so anymore even if the burning desire with me still flickered. I couldn’t conceive the thoughts of belittling myself and my father, who under normal circumstance deserved it, in front of the most powerful man in the entire country.
I had my theory as to why they mistook my father to be someone he wasn’t. I could tell it was from the deep bruises on his face which he had sustained from a fight with some men he owed money days before he collapsed on the kitchen floor. His fall and clash with the floor, head first had added to the disfiguration of his face as well, making t difficult to recognize the man unless you lived with him or you were told he was the one.
I wouldn’t have been able to tell it was him either, had it not been for the fact he stank of alcohol. He looked pale too, and stricken by old age which had condemned his body to nothing but one of shame to look at. He wasn’t the man his picture would tell him to be, and I felt strongly it was the reason everyone, including the President and Colonel Fabian had mistaken for another Jack Martin.
It was the only reasonable explanation and I stuck with it in mind and consciousness. I hoped they will come to realize their mistake and leave immediately. I hoped they would just walk away briefly after finding out the error of their judgment. I hoped things would simply return to normal when they realize that as I watched the two men in my father’s room speak quietly with one another.
I was going to adopt the technique of accepting anything and everything they say once they stepped out of the room. There was no need arguing with the President and it would definitely not have brought me any good will either. I was going for the needed “Yes Sir’, when it was needed, and the “No Sir” where necessary. I waited to hear all they had to say about the man I call my father, and accept whatever cock and bull they had going on with them.
It was the best way of pretending to know everything they might talk about the man without looking foolish when in fact they were the ones without knowledge of the truth about the man they were causing so much fuss over. If they said my father was a hero or some god of some kind, no matter how ridiculous it was going to sound, my mind was willing to accept it with a smile, a nod and the occasional laughter to make them feel comfortable.
I wasn’t comfortable about the entire thing though, but it felt like the only thing I could do at the point in time. It felt like the best option I had to kill time and hope they leave sooner than later. I will accept whatever image they portrayed the man to be. I was going to stand by it without questioning or trying to prove them otherwise.
I felt the President, Colonel Fabian and the entire Army were out of their depth and without proper information or knowledge. With everything happening and the chaos going on silently within my head, mind and soul, I wanted nothing more than a quick resolve to everything.
It felt like ages, but they finally came out of the room. The topics and details of their discussion was certainly something I harkened my mind and inquisition towards knowing, but I kept a straight face and tried desperately to hide how nervous I truly was beginning to feel. I took note of the President, John Brooks’ face first and it was deeply sad.
It gave the impression my father was someone of importance or some significance to him and it disturbed me sincerely because I couldn’t just see it. There was absolutely nothing from the man’s past that could really affirm the need for the sad expression on the President’s face, let alone give any convincing reason for me to drown in the belief myself.
“Talk about luck and how my alcoholic father manages to get himself visited by the President of the United States of America by simply being confused to be another Jack Martin of reputable nature and life”, I scoffed in derision. “I feel sorry for the real hero lavishing somewhere without his due recognition being given to him”.
It was somewhat painful to watch my father stealing someone else’s shine though whichever way I looked at it. It was darn painful to even imagine who the due and rightful owner of the hero mention was. I waited where I was with a heart filled with regrets and thoughts of varying natures as the slow knocking of the President’s shoes against the tiled floor rushed through my senses and brought my focus back to the man.
“Hello young lady”, he greeted politely as he neared me.
I still had my head bowed. I felt strung up to look up immediately as I stared at his expensive shoes and breezed his lovely cologne through my nostrils. I could feel firsthand what being around the President of the country was, and it was nothing short of breathtaking and nerve wrecking. I felt like I was going to puke right there and then as my stomach began to churn.
“Hello”, I urged myself up with my hand extended to meet his.
His hand felt warmer than mine, and he had a sense of calm around him that made me relax slightly from my jumpy state earlier.
“Are you Jack Martin’s daughter?” he asked me.
I could have given “No or Yes” as the immediate answer. I could have responded immediately without a doubt, but I kept calm and said nothing at first. Something strange was going through my head. I for some reason felt glad to be asked that question for the first time in my life. It had never been a good experience for me being asked if Jack Martin was my father, and here I was, with the opposite happening.
Times when I’ve been asked that, it usually ended with people coming to collect the debt he owed or reports of where he was stone drunk and making a mess of himself. It was different this time. I was being asked by the most powerful man in America. It question felt honorary without a doubt. It felt like a pedestal upon which I was to ascend by simply answering with the word “Yes”.
I was my father’s daughter at heart for the first time. I could finally boast of being his daughter for goo cause even though I still felt they were being mistaken by whatever reasons they were there for. It didn’t matter though. It felt too good to pass off. I wasn’t being shamed or about to be and it was relieving.
“Yes, I am”, I boldly responded with my chest out and high.
He looked at me with a smile, beckoning on me to come with him politely. “Would you like to share a cup of tea with me young lady?” he asked.
I nodded immediately in agreement without hesitating. I walked by his side proudly to the room opposite my father’s where a steamy kettle of tea was waiting for us already. The room wasn’t entirely big but it was the official tea room for the nurses when they were on duty. I took the seat opposite the nice looking man who went ahead to pour himself and me some tea. He was being a gentleman.
“Do you care for some cubes?’ he asked, extending the cup with sugar in it to me.
I politely declined while I watched him put some into his tea before we began anything. I wanted to tell him about my father, but not in the way I truly saw the man to be. I was going to back up whatever claims he had about the man and simply agree and roll with it without contradicting his beliefs. It wasn’t going to be easy to pull off, but it felt right to this that one time and my mind was made up.
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Laila could never believe that the only person she was always sure to know very well about, her shameful father, was actually the person she completely knows nothing about. In the last 7 days of his life in hospital, the pitiful and shameful father of her, each and every day there was a different guest came to visit her father, all the seven visitors drank tea with Laila in the opposite room of her father's, and told her seven different stories about her father, Jack Martin. The surprises and unbelievable things came one by one everyday. The real person of her father was gradually revealed day by day and then came to her true identity. How would Laila deal with the unexpected truths about her father's life? And how did she overcome them and continue to live her own life?