TEMPERED GLASS

ANA TREVIÑO

1. He sat there with his dark piercing eyes vigilantly connected with mine.

 

2. I don't know this man.

3. Not personally at least.

 

4. I only know him from the photographs and the stories that my mother tells me.

5. Stories about the abuse. The violence. His unpleasant company.

6. My grandmother's tales are no different, perhaps a bit more superficial, covering up the true harshness of his behaviour.

7. The room was a specific depressing color of yellow. Not sunny yellow or a dull-doctor's room beige. A depressing solitary confinement yellow.

8. He smelled of something unpleasant too, perhaps old urine and prunes.

9. I don't know this man at all, and for a long time I despised him, wanted nothing to do with him. I wished him all the loneliness and solitude he deserved for being such a vile character in the narrative of my mother's life.

10. I also loathed him for never being present in my own life, never trying to get to know me. Never showing up or calling. What did I ever do to him?

 

11. My mother grew up with an abuser. Despite knowing this, all I ever wanted was for him to love and to care for me. To show me how to run a business, how to deal with boys, tell me over and over how he fell in love with my grandmother.

 

12. But that's just a cheap version of a movie trope I'll never get.

 

13. Even when he sat across from me just staring, he kept saying "how beautiful, how beautiful". I felt sad. I felt like I'd missed out on a person who, despite being infamously cruel, could have taught me so much; could have seen me grow into what he know calls beautiful.

 

14. I felt guilty then. Wishing him so much pain, so much suffering for his past. But the only person that ever did any, harm was me.

 

15. If my mother and aunts could visit him every Saturday and give whatever extra money they have to keep him in a nice nursing home, could I not forgive him for his absence? For his past?

16. In those gloomy halls filled with living ghosts all turning and staring at you while you pass. With the smell of desperation for just a bit of warmth and attention, I realised that I've been participating in a cycle of violence. And if that cycle was ever to break. I had to forgive the man in front of me for all his wrong doings.

17. I only had two questions for him.

 

18. One, what was his favourite book.

 

19. To my disappointment he didn't have one, as he never actually read or liked it really.

 

20. Two, what kind of music he liked.

 

21. In a low barely audible mumble he said "soft music".

 

22. I told him "like jazz?"

 

23. He nodded.

 

24. "Do you like classical music?"

 

25. He nodded once again.

 

26. "What are your favourite composers?"

 

27. Without any hesitation for thought, he said Tchaikovsky. Chopin.

 

28. So I took out my phone, opened Spotify, and played him "The Nutcracker" by Tchaikovsky.

 

29. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and never opened them again until the song was over.

 

30. In those two minutes I saw a man at peace, listening to a beautiful melody. Something he probably hadn't done for years.

 

31. Before my eyes the peace that cast over him transformed him. He wasn't just a story anymore, he wasn't a perpetrator. He was human. A lover of music just as I.

 

32. He was for all the while...my grandfather.