The Ruins of Reason
I was four years old when I asked my father the reason the sky was blue. I was full of questions. Why was the water colourless but we colour it blue in school? Why did Mummy wear a dress but Papa wears pants? Why did the sun only rise in the day?
He answered my questions patiently at first. But then… “It only looks blue,” he said, eyes clamped onto the screen in front of him, the fingers of one hand typing across the board of buttons, the other jammed on the notepad scribbling notes as fast as he could type.
I watched him do three things at once.
“The sky is made of many colours. Blue is just one of them.”
“But the sky here is blue,” I had said. “Why is it blue here?”
The phone rang. He stopped typing. He stopped writing. He turned and picked it up. He muttered into it. Then he stood up, scraping the chair back, pushing me to one side with his free hand. I sat on my bottom. “Yes. Yes. That’s right. I will be prospecting the offer…”
I squatted where I was, picking at the wooden grain of the chair. I traced the shapes. I drew a cloud. A sun. Why was the sun a ball? When I looked at it, it was just light. There was no ball, and light was not a sharp point coming out of it.
My father did not return. He strode towards the door, shifting his handphone from the right hand to the left. He reached for his starched white shirt and wore it with his right hand. He opened the front door and closed it behind him.
I stared after him. Why was he leaving?
The door opened again. He held the phone away from his ear and said to me, “Tell Mummy I won’t be home for dinner.”
The door clicked shut now. The lock turned, a metallic sound, like the ticking of the clock. Only there was a tick, no resounding tock.
I climbed into my father’s chair and sat there in the silence. I had grown used to the sound of silence. I heard it more than any other sound. Even after YouTube was invented. It was the sound that told me to stop asking questions.