December 27th, 2007
Today was a day in which things just sprang up out of the blue to throw me out of whack.
I think the first was the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
I am not Pakistani, nor a real close follower of politics in that region of the world, fraught as they always seem to be with drama, to put it mildly. But I read The Week, which gives me enough of a blurby kind of update that I know what’s going on in the world. The Economist gives me an in-depth, more international slant too, when I am actually allowed enough time to read it. So I was aware of the recent turmoil in Pakistan, the cries for Musharraf to step down and stop controlling Pakistan via the army. Step down he did, immediately turning around to become a civilian leader so not sure what really changed there, but in the midst of all of this, Bhutto, a woman who had already been prime minister of Pakistan and who had been in self-exile, was returning to her country to try to regain power and restore her version of democracy to Pakistan. I say “her version” because from accounts that I’ve read, there was major corruption during her tenure, but since I think that can be said of practically any world leader anywhere, I’m not sure that that’s the condemnation people think it is.
In any case, I’d been following what was going on since her return. She had many many supporters, men and women who wanted to see her back in power. She’d been educated here (Harvard) and at Oxford; had already been prime minister. I found myself drawn to her, to see how she would fare, if she would indeed succeed at regaining control and if so, how that would further Pakistan as a country.
Earlier today, she went to a rally of supporters, gave a speech, and as she was leaving a man rushed at her, shot her twice and then blew himself up. She was rushed to the hospital but one bullet had pierced her spine and another had gone through her chest and although doctors attempted to massage her heart, there was really no hope. Within an hour, she was gone.
I can’t say she was the best thing for Pakistan – I’m not well-versed enough in their affairs to even have an opinion. What I do know is that I found myself drawn to her, perhaps because she was a well-educated woman who was attempting to take up the mantle for a second time – odd, that, when you consider that here in the United States we’re now finally seeing a woman with any hope of becoming a leader. Leaders of the free world, blah, blah, blah and yet when it comes to things related to women – from our Presidential aspirations to maternity leave – we are so fucking far behind it isn’t funny. And now, this striking charismatic woman has just been snuffed out. Gone.
The second thing that gave me serious pause today was finding a letter my father wrote to me in 1996. Perhaps I should say THE letter my father wrote to me, because it is the only one I have, with the 3 pictures he enclosed. They are the sum total of my relationship with my father. In the letter, he spoke oh so poetically of how much he needed to tell me, of his life, of his relationship with my mother, of his history. We should take a vacation together, he exclaimed, take a few weeks and travel while getting to know one another. He mentioned previous travels of his through South America, mentioned various interesting people he’d gotten to know on other jaunts, spoke of his favorite composers and how he planned to listen to them while rereading the letter he had just received from me.
Of course, none of it happened. The letter, two well-thought out pages in which poor typing showed his rush to put a stream of consciousness on paper, brought home to me how much I miss his presence, how much I wish he had been a part of my life growing up, how much I wish my children could know him and learn from all he has to share of his experiences, of his – and therefore my – history.
Hubby asked if I would like to try to find him again. That’s the killer, though. Again.
In 1996 my mother found him. That was when he wrote that poetic letter that spoke of long talks to come, history to be revealed, ancestry to be bestowed.
In 2004 I paid a private investigator to find him, scraping together what little knowledge I had of him in the hopes that it would be enough to track him down. I told myself that I wanted him to know about Punksin, wanted him to be aware he had a granddaughter, hoped that he would redeem himself somehow by being available for her so that she would have some glimpse of the richness of her history, gain firsthand knowledge of the fact that she is descended from German royalty.
I did the one thing I don’t like to do. I tried to fool myself. Yes, I wanted all of those things, but I also wanted him to give a damn about me. I wanted to give him another chance to show me that I mattered. And perhaps if I’d admitted that, I would have realized that telling him he had a granddaughter was a waste of time. If he didn’t care that he didn’t know his own daughter, why would a granddaughter all of a sudden awaken some sense of familial connection and responsibility? Why did I think that somehow Punksin would obtain for me the affection that my own existence was never able to inspire for itself?
He knows where I live, has my telephone number. The information the p.i. was able to get was, as he himself admitted, not very good – the address didn’t seem to be one he lived at and there was no phone. Still, he was able to get word to my father to call me, which he did from a number that he instructed me not to call because whatever floozy he was shacking up with wouldn’t take kindly to it. Clearly the risk of her ire far outweighed getting to know a daughter he’d seen only once, a granddaughter he’d never met. Yet, once again, he talked of getting together, having me meet his brothers and my cousins, sharing stories of his own mother and father, the grandparents I never got to know.
So do I want to find him yet again?
Standing outside of myself, I say no, fuck him, who needs him, what’s the point of finding him only to be rebuffed time and time again.
Inside, the little girl says yes, I do want to find him, I want to lay eyes on him at least once, have Punksin and Pudding see their grandfather, take a picture, capture the moment, have him look at me and see me and call me daughter – at least once. Just once, acknowledge who I am. The time for making up for past transgressions is long gone – what I want now is just the connection, and an acknowledgment that I exist, and some outreach that occurs more often than once a decade.
Will this ever happen? I’m inclined to think not. For all of this to happen, he would have to want it to happen. He would have to want a relationship with me.
And there’s no way I can look at the history of events and fool myself for one minute that that is what he wants. He’s had the opportunity. And if he really wanted to find me, he would do as I did, and try to find me, which would not be at all hard to do, since I’ve not moved since we last spoke.
This is when the hatred and the anger start to build, because I hate that he makes me feel this way. I hate that he makes me question why it is that he wants nothing to do with me, that he makes me think that I’m not good enough for him to want to acknowledge me and spend time with me. I hate that he has deprived me of my heritage and my birthright by cutting me off from my German family, I hate that I wonder if they even know about me or if he’s hidden me out of shame, I hate that he has left me feeling half-empty, I hate that when my daughter asks me certain questions, like who is my father and where does he live and why doesn’t he visit us, that I feel my face blush in shame and embarrassment and I have to come up with some bullshit answer that I must forcibly smile and deliver in a lighthearted tone so that she doesn’t sense the despair and sorrow in me.
Maybe one more time.
I might try once more. Although if I do, this time I will go for broke. I will find where he is and I will GO THERE and I will see him and I will BE SEEN. Just ONCE. None of this prattling back and forth on the phone and blubbering from him about what could and should have been while making zero attempts to do the right thing now.