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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

The Hands That Shape My Life

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by Susan Abraham

These days, I sit like my father. He often leant back; deep in thought, smiling absent-mindedly at the world. He would tilt slightly to his left...the pointer and middle fingers cradling his temple as he mulled over things. Sometimes, he watched the telly, dressed in that animated stillness. My father always posed with a book on a stool, placed over his lap or while engaged in silent conversation with a nearby bookshelf.

My mother slept with her right hand placed atop her forehead, almost as if she worried about many things. She couldn't sleep any other way. Sometimes, when I lie down, deep in thought, I would subconsciously place my right hand atop my forehead and for a moment, become my mother.
Once a long while ago, someone asked me about it. He became unduly worried! Did I have a headache? Was I unwell? I looked troubled. Unlike her, I couldn't stay that way for long.

I am my father's daughter. He was the reader and the writer. I spent part of my childhood in Singapore. My mother read Women's Weekly magazines and romances from England and Australia. Without a doubt, my mother believed in knitting, crouchet, baking and Blyton. She also adored Pyrex and Tupperware parties. My father hoarded a strange reading assortment of all else. Both offered me a cherished nostalgia of their own.
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Now, when I write stories, my hands shape my moments. Sometimes, they wait meditative, my fingers entwined as if in prayer. They hide patiently under my chin while my face anxiously searches my laptop that mirrors my stories. We may have been in serious dialogue together; my laptop and I. We each stare boldly at the other. Hiding behind the curtain of a shadowed jaw, my fingers continue to eavesdrop inquisitively. They observe every move.

Often when I am relaxed over my comedy or poetry or reading e-books from the Net, my right palm cups my tilted face downwards gently as if it were a mother cooing to a baby. Lost in words, I am immediately soothed and restful. And my left hand then grips my right wrist, playacting a rocking hammock for my tranquility.

Sometimes when I stay industrious in my writing and stop to shape and edit my words with a frown on my crown, I become once more my father, head tilted to the left and two fingers cradling my temple. I look in spite of myself, wonderfully serious and bookish.

I suppose this is me. The daughter in later years carrying a torch of her father's spirit and her mother's strange gesture and also her own quizzical expressions from carefully-shaped fingers that define the evolving episodes of a surprised writer.
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