average joe

I never knew my father. Well, at least not in the same way that we were able to get to know our mother through the years. My father's name was Jose. He died when I was in grade 5 and even if my twin brother and I practically spent most of our childhood with him he remained a stranger to us. He was aloof and generally kept to himself when he was at home. Perhaps his age had something to do with it. He was already in his 60s when he passed away. All I know is that he was in love with two things: photography and women. Wherever he went, he had his trusty camera with him. I remember accompanying him to our dark room and being fascinated with the process of developing pictures. Even now, I could still smell the pungent odor that clung to his camera bag and the cold, smooth surface of the lenses that he kept in specialized containers. When my brother and I were around five or six years old, my father gave each of us a camera. Though I did not grow up to be a photographer (I could barely use an SLR), my brother later became a cinematographer. We used to kid that the only thing of value that we inherited from him was our collection of family photos.

My father was also a chronic womanizer. I have so many stepbrothers and stepsisters that I have actully lost count of them all. A bulk of his collection, in fact, is composed of pictures of women of varying ages and built. He knew how to seduce women. One time, I even caught him seducing our maid. A few days after that, she fled but not without leaving a letter to my mother. We were that kind of a family.

Despite his adulturous nature, however, he was treated with utmost respect inside and outside our family. He was a bemedalled war veteran who had a terrible temper. He was infamous for reducing his secretaries to tears with his outbursts. But years later, I realized that my brother and I respected our father not for his accomplishments but for his inscrutability. Because we do not know him intimately, we treated him with the same courtesy and respect as we would treat a stranger. Mother, on the other hand, was both our friend and our enemy. Our relationship with her was built not so much on respect but on love.

My father has been dead for almost sixteen years but last I heard his ghost was constantly seen lingering in the halls of his old office. When I heard this piece of news, I joked that even in death he preferred his work over us. That same night, as my brother and I prepared to sleep, we heard someone entering our front door, followed by footsteps going to my mother's room. At first, we suspected it was burglar. I quickly searched for a weapon and went to the sala only to realize that our door was double-locked from the inside. May he rest in peace.


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