Friday, November 11, 2011
FLIP YOUR SCRIPT: "The Night Before My First Day of School"
NOTE TO READERS: Last spring, I began experimenting with a writing exercise called "FLIP YOUR SCRIPT," designed to promote empathy and forgiveness. This weekend I will be presenting the exercise at a conference at Amherst College sponsored by the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education. You can read more about the exercise at the Happiness class blog. In this post, Francheska Roque presents part one of her script. Be sure to read the way Roque "flips" her script in a heart-wrenching Part Two!!
By Francheska Roque
I was only five years old and I was just about to start kindergarten. My mom used a blow dryer on my short black hair, wanting her daughter to look beautiful on her first day.
I wore a white-collared shirt with a plaid skirt as long as my legs. My uniform was perfectly laid out on the bed ready to be ironed and cleared of wrinkles. My first day of school was going to be perfect, or so I thought. Now, let me just say that I loved my father with all my heart and I’m sure he loved me too. For those first five years of my life it was as if he dedicated his whole life to me.
To be honest, I think I preferred him over my mother. He would give me everything I wanted and did everything to favor me. He would come home every night looking exhausted from work, or at least that’s what I thought he was doing. And every night he would bring home something for me. Whether it was a candy, a toy or even a dollar, he had something for me. When he didn’t come, he would make up for it on the weekend with something even better.
That particular night though everything was different.
My house was huge: two bathrooms, four rooms, a two-sided living room and a kitchen. To a young girl like me, my house seemed like a mansion. I thought nobody had a house as big as mine. Well, except for those people on TV. Out of all the rooms in the house though, my parent’s room was my favorite.
I had my own room but I felt more comfortable in theirs. They had a huge bed that I could roll across ten times and still not fall off. Their heater seemed to always be on but they kept the window open which sort of made the room just the right temperature. Not to mention the TV in their room was bigger than any other TV in the entire house. Their room was just right.
That night, I laid in their bed watching TV waiting for “Papi” to get home, to see what he had gotten for that day. It was taking him longer than usual, however. My mom was in the kitchen and wouldn’t get off the phone. I think she spent her entire night on the phone. From the tone of her voice I could tell things weren’t good.
After a couple minutes I heard the door; the person had keys and opened the door so I automatically knew it was my dad. I was just about to jump off the bed and run to him but before I even got the chance all I heard was screaming and things slamming all over the place. “Lárgate de aquí! No te quiero ver en mi casa mas nunca!” which translate into “Get out of my house, I never want to see you here again!” That was all I heard coming from my mother.
It went on for almost an hour. I was afraid and couldn’t help the tears running from my eyes, a stream from my nose and past my lips. All I wanted to do was to run to my dad and hug him. My mom kept telling me not to come out of the room though. I waited and waited till waiting felt like years and I couldn’t wait any more. I ran out of the room as quickly as possible to my father who was about to go down the stairs to leave the house.
I gave him the biggest hug that a daughter could give a father and asked him where he was going. He didn’t give me a direct answer though, he simply said “I’ll be back soon.” But something just didn’t feel right. He followed by asking me to “Besarle la mano,” and I responded “Bendición papi.” (In my culture this is the way that you pay respect to the elders in your family by blessing them).
Now, I am an eighteen year old, a freshman in college. That night before I started my first day of kindergarten was the last time I ever saw my dad. I have not spoken to him nor have I heard a single word about my “father” since that night.
Francheska Roque is a freshman at the University at Albany, SUNY. She intends to be a business major.