Personal Updates Short Story

Short Story | Hands Together

Hands Together

His hands have always been much larger than my own, but I had never noticed until he rejected the hand that I offered to him. His hands were dark and tanned and mine were light and baby pink.

My first memory of my most favorite uncle was sitting between his legs, both bent over a piece of copy paper with a crayon in our hands. I was four and he was in his late 30s already with his signature buzz cut that he still sports to this day. He was lanky, like always with a thin built, long torso, long legs and long arms. He resembled my father in every way except that he loved art and engraved it in me.

His voice was stiff and coarse as he sang to me a famous children’s song that went along with our activity.

It was how I learned to first draw.

Small circle. Small circle. Big circle.

Small circle. Small circle. Big circle.

This is mama, this is papa, going to church.

Six times six equals thirty six.

Six times six equals a magic.

His hand that held mine was sturdy and dependable as he guided me through every line of the song he sang in my ears. He would draw and draw, one pig after another, drilling the song into my memory like a mantra to live by.

The image of him sprawled on the floor, drawing numerous pigs with a crayon, I had forgotten, just like I had forgotten that mantra.

It was much later in my life did I remember it as one of the factors that still pushes me to work hard in reaching my dream.

When I visited my father’s side of the family for the first time since attending The Art Institute, I was determined to relive that memory as I too was an artist now just like the uncle I admired for so long. I prepared myself to ask him, taking my time and choosing my words as carefully as I could without alarming him and sending him away. Things had changed. He was a drunkard, heartbroken and consumed by the years of failures.

His hands were naked as they showed his unsteadiness and everything that he worked hard to drink away was displayed. He gave a million and one excuses as to why we could never paint together.

I remember my face flushing red, tears threatening to spill as if it was not the act of drawing together that he rejected, but me that he found insufficient. Of course, that was not the case at all. It was true. He had not held a drawing tool in so long, that even seeing it made his eyes buggy, his lips twist and his body curl. I offered to practice with him as many times as I could during my time with him which was not even an hour.

The hands that held me when I was four will always be the hand that I choose to remember and the hand I will compare to others. Just the same as my dream will always be that which he ingrained in me through the mantra he sang stiffly.

photo credits. Josh Willink

Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s welcome 2016 with hope for the future.

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