I’m usually smiling these days. Yesterday was no exception. I finished work at eight and punched out. I smiled at the thought of her waiting for me to arrive so we could have dinner together. I smiled as I walked outside and saw that the sun was still out. I smiled at the early June air, still wearing my apron and chef’s hat, and made my way up the stairs, out of Mel Lastman Square and onto Yonge Street. I lit a cigarette and walked north. I smiled, knowing that I lived only a few minutes away. I smiled, unaware that I was heading into hate.
Seconds later, in front of North York Center Station, I saw an Iranian man and his son exiting the building. The man was a monstrous figure, a mountain from every angle. His son, a chubby four or five year old, followed behind him. He looked tired and might have been crying. Before I fully passed them on the sidewalk, the man turned a halfway glance to his son and said in Farsi, “Keep moaning and I’ll bloody up your mouth, you hear?”
I’m not sure if I heard anything else after that; not the street or the thoughts in my head…It was gravity that I felt, gravity freezing my tracks and turning my head. Gravity, clenching my fist…I looked back at them, but kept walking. I didn’t unleash the army of Persian curses tied to my tongue. I did nothing and I’ll forever regret that. I only looked back and saw the boy’s eyes. It was a look I knew all too well. I remembered a distant speck of childhood, looking in his eyes. I remembered the first time I met the back of my father’s hand. I was around the same age.
Dear mountain, dear unknown father, thank you for taking my smile away. Thank you for reminding me that some hate is worth having. I will forever regret not burning you with every ember of rage inside me, but your son will hate you and that hate will change him; it will never go away, and that is hell enough… Thank you for reminding me how fast my insides can crumble. Thank you for resurrecting the far corners of my childhood. I hope I see you again, you piece of shit.