To My Father — June 19 2016

I have very few photographs of my father who my mother used to tell me looked liked David Niven and had the same voice and accent. My father voluntarily left our Buenos Aires home in 1950 (I was 8) because he could not handle his alcoholism. He would visit me on some weekends and take me to the movies. We would take the train to the downtown station of Retiro and from there we would hop on the Subte to Lavalle which was a street with wall to wall movie houses. We would walk back and forth until I would pick the Western, swashbuckler or war film of my choice. After the movie my father would take me for a strawberry ice cream soda at the nearby Roxy.

At my age of almost 74 I can still remember his voice and his scent, a blend of Old Smuggler Whiskey, Player’s Navy Cut cigarettes and his Harris Tweed jacket.

Every day when I visit our downstairs bathroom I always look at this framed picture taken (by the stamp on the back) by the Lahore Hermanos. I wonder if they were Hindoos (as Kipling wrote the word)? It adds to the romance of the lovely portrait. I stare at it and wonder (and of course answer in the negative) the question I ask, “Papi, who would have thought that someday you would grow up to be my father?”

As always when I think of my Buenos Aires past I think of Jorge Luís Borges. Today, is Sunday, Father’s Day, and it is raining. One of the most beautiful of his poems is called La lluvia or the rain. It is all about lonely homes that one visits in one’s memory in search of someone long dead. And yes, it mentions Borges’s father. I can imagine myself my father opening the black portón at the end of the garden and walking in my direction and smiling and saying, “How are you Alexander?”

Below the poem La Lluvia both in Spanish and in English.

La Lluvia

Bruscamente la tarde se ha aclarado

Porque ya cae la lluvia minuciosa.

Cae o cayó. La lluvia es una cosa

Que sin duda sucede en el pasado.

Quien la oye caer ha recobrado

El tiempo en que la suerte venturosa

Le reveló una flor llamada rosa

Y el curioso color del colorado.

Esta lluvia que ciega los cristales

Alegrará en perdidos arrabales

Las negras uvas de una parra en cierto

Patio que ya no existe. La mojada

Tarde me trae la voz, la voz deseada,

De mi padre que vuelve y que no ha muerto.

The Rain — J. L. Borges

The afternoon grows light because at last

Abruptly a minutely shredded rain

Is falling, or it fell. For once again

Rain is something happening in the past.

Whoever hears it fall has brought to mind

Time when by a sudden lucky chance

A flower called “rose” was open to his glance

And the curious color of the colored kind.

This rain that blinds the windows with its mists

Will gladden in suburbs no more to be found

The black grapes on a vine there overhead

In a certain patio that no longer exists.

And the drenched afternoon brings back the sound

How longed for, of my father’s voice, not dead.

[From Dreamtigers, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Harold Morland]

Link to: To My Father — June 19 2016

Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.

Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at:http://t.co/yf6BbOIQ alexwh@telus.net

Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at:http://t.co/yf6BbOIQ alexwh@telus.net