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fatherhood, personal essays, Series

Installation #9

Good Things Come In Twos

This year, all I want for Father’s Day is a nice twelve hour nap. No cards. No fancy dinners. And definitely no telephone calls. When I wake up, I’ll go through my file cabinet and take out some folders. Skip through some photos of my daughter and let silence fill the air as I reflect where did all the time go?

Two days before Father’s Day, my daughter will cross the stage trading in her kindergarten status for a numbered one. The other day, she bit my finger to demonstrate that her two front teeth are coming loose.

On a cosmic level, it’s only right that her graduation and father’s day should fall on the same weekend. After all, we’re in this together: treading unfamiliar waters. For her, she’s moving toward first grade and reading harder books. I, on the other hand, am balancing how to help her read those harder books and work on my first book (not to mention work and graduate school). 

Like clock work, she asks me to rub her back before going to sleep. Dead tired, I tell her to wait up for me— as I hurriedly go to finish the dishes, sweep the floor, look over her homework (making sure her letters are curlicued), wash out a uniform for the next morning, try to forget about writing. And before you know it the sun fades and there she is fast asleep.

Increasingly, I suffer from insomnia. I attribute it to being a writer with an active mind. On those nights, I wake up at odd hours to make sure the door is locked or to check if the apartment is at the right temperature. I watch her chest move like an ocean under a knitted blue quilt. She likes to hug up against the wall as if she’s a pillar keeping the walls steady and balanced. I pull a piece of cover over her arms. She wiggles her nose. My chest aches, I sometimes want to wake her up just to ask if she’s okay? Whether she’s having a good dream? Did she go before getting in bed?

I decide against waking her up. I turn off the lights and trip over one of her toys. Before I can swear at my highest octave, I stare at one of her drawings on the refrigerator. I marvel at how perfectly she drew me: bespectacled, a book in hand, just the two of us holding hands moving . . . somewhere, together, the way it ought to be.


Abdul Ali is the editor of Words Matter.

About Abdul Ali

I'm a fellow at American University studying creative nonfiction and poetry. I write across a few genres but it's all brought together by larger questions about culture.


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