As I look in the mirror, I notice the small brown specks within my irises that delineate into endless spirals of many folds, folds that became too entwined to unravel with time. As I begin to assort the tiny pieces, the familiarity of my eyes reveal their origin, they are a mere replica of my father’s eyes. His irises, a soft brown color, contain an irradiating ardor of eternal love. His soft compassionate eyes have shown me the unknown. His antiquated and weary eyes carry great power. I look deep within his fragmented eyes that have seen the burning of his sister’s body in a car accident, the atrocities of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and witnessed the bloodshed of many dying soldiers during the Iran-Iraq War, man-slaughter, death of his parents, the downfall of his enemies, and infidelity. As I look again, I realize we share the same drained plain brown irises, yet his eyes carry an unfamiliar depth.
An endless depth measured by experiences. One experience, in particular, that marked us both forever.
In the fall of 2005, we arrived home, the door creaking while the phone rang. I struggled to reach for the cord. As I picked up the phone, I whispered hoarsely, “hello” and a man in a professional tone asked to speak to an adult. Immediately distraught by his timbre, I handed the phone to my mother. Looking into her eyes I could tell something was wrong, her pupils were dilated, and her aurora emitted a distortion of red, green, and yellows. I felt like I was in a horror movie, portraying that one heedless character. Finally after an endless hour on the phone and pointless eaves dropping, my mother restrained herself for a moment until finally her tear ducts overcame her restraint. I looked up and immediately I could see the array of colors in the room distort themselves into numerous folds. Folds that became unattainable with time. The words rolled off my mother’s tongue like jagged rocks falling off a cliff, “your father has a very aggressive prostate cancer”. I could feel my eyes widening with distraught and confusion. His glance was like a thousand melodious bullets piercing through the free-swinging pendulum in my chest. I looked away cowardly and my silence was drowned by my tears. Our eyes met for a moment and I could tell he was disturbed by the bothersome news; however he tried to depict no emotion.
Everyday his eyes sagged more and more with his sickness, his plain brown irises shriveling at an exponential rate. I felt like an unidentified number in his support crew. However, with time I learned to cooperate and acquired my father’s self-sacrificing nature by concealing my tears and restraining myself from feeling any ounce of remorse. A single moment of eye contact strengthened the concrete wall established around my tear ducts. Our eyes would meet for a moment. Our reflection provided just enough commentary to compensate for the lack of dialogue.
I exhaled numerous aching breathes as I was told to stay strong for my father. I look at my father today, and see a part of me. We share the same drained plain brown irises, now we both carry an unfamiliar depth. The wisdom in his eyes comes from his lifetime of trials and tribulations. My eyes are no longer the same plain brown irises. They possess a new color, one that became accustomed to the light it once avoided. I learned to overcome my solace in darkness; I was no longer reliant on the security of what I knew. Anxiously, I wonder if the audience can see the true student that I am. The student full of passion for learning, for beauty, for life, the learner who does not find her thrills in high school parties, but rather the ambiance of a movie night. I smile because I know that in the end, that milestone was but a small speck of my distant past, a speck that I am thankful for, as it caused me to channel an immeasurable love I have for my family, to overcome something unknown, and to trek through unpaved paths.
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