Jan 30, 2008

Ancestors

My ancestors are creeping up around me. In my dreams they haunt me, taunting me with shrill songs and pregnant silences.

Yiayia stands, shrunken and small, at the front of a large hall. She is singing in soft crackling English I know she never knew.

Baba sits at the back, Mommy Iris by his side. She is alert and young and he shrivels beside her. His eyes are blank and distant, his mouth hanging open with too many years of speaking.

I have seen photographs of him in his younger days, his skin tight and healthy, his hair jet black and shining in the grey sunlight of the early ‘50s. I have heard stories of his temper, loud, angry and threatening like lightning. And I have heard Mommy Iris reminisce about him, long letters to me, nostalgic for days together in Atlanta, jogging in Boca, building homes in New Vernon.

We are too young for our grandparents, too young to appreciate them while there is time. Suddenly they are trapped only in our dreams and memories, in old photographs, and we are left with them as myths, legends of our own pasts.