The ghost of my father came to me last night. I suddenly woke in the middle in the night. I felt the presence of someone else near me. A light wind was swaying through the curtain; slight, diffused sounds of the sleeping city were penetrating my room with those soft waves of the wind. He was sitting on the floor at the corner of my room, near the window. I could see the patches of the street’s light shining on his glasses. That light flowed through his body and was reflected on the wall. He was sitting with his hands on his knees. I saw the old scar on his finger; he cut it with the circular saw when repairing our old wooden house. I looked at his old hands, still seeking work; I saw the bluish thick veins on his tanned, coarse skin. He was looking at me with curiosity, but in his tender, understanding smile I could discern a slight shade of sadness. I wanted to ask him why he was sitting in the floor and what the meaning of this sadness was, but I was not sure if ghosts could speak. I just kept looking at him and him at me. We were gazing at each other in the darkness and I felt that the sadness of his smile had grown and turned to bitterness even. I tried to understand what made him so sad. I thought it must be something about me, about my life.
No, I’m not very good example of success—36 years old, still unmarried, a job that wasn’t paid as well as I’d always expected. Yes, I was always convinced that by this time I would be living with my three children and a cheerful husband in a big house near the ocean. Yes, I always expected that by this time, I would be running a big company as very successful businesswoman, wearing a black leather jacket, driving a big red car. Yes, I always knew that by this time, I would be the leader of a very important expedition to the Amazonian forests, no matter what topic we’d be investigating: the old customs of local tribes, or a new rare species of venomous spider. He was still sitting on the floor, looking at me with sadness.
I don’t know why I had not realized my dreams. I really tried; I studied biology and anthropology. I worked really hard. I worked hard indeed.
I should have a break because of Paul. He wanted me to move with him to Sweden; I was in love, I left everything and went with him. Yes, you can say that I wasted eight years of my life on this relationship, but is love ever a waste of time? He was still looking at me, now with uncovered bitterness. Yes, we had separated. Yes, maybe it was partly my fault, too. But it was you, Dad, who always taught me that a woman must have pride . . . I started to cry silently. I closed my eyes, full of tears. When I opened them, the room was empty. He was gone. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I hugged the pillow, closed my eyes and cried, thinking about the transiency of our lives, about the vainness of our cherished dreams, about the ephemerality of our desires.
After breakfast, I asked my father why his ghost had been coming to me at night. It was one of those beautiful sunny summer holidays we always passed together in my parent’s house. I stayed sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee, while my father read his morning paper. A light wind was swaying through the curtain. He was surprised. He put the newspaper he aside and looked at me. I could see the patches of the sun’s light shining on his glasses.
“I don’t know, darling,” he said, “I couldn’t find the book I used to read before going to sleep. I searched for it all evening. Haven’t you seen it? Hermann Hesse. The black book with the grey back . . . Maybe at night, my ghost just decided to help me.” He gave me a wink.
“Oh! Come on, Dad! Are you kidding me? Why in my room? I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night just because of your ghost! It was not because of the book, I am sure.”
He seemed to be confused. “But I don’t know! The ghost was in your room, not in mine. You should ask him why he came to you! Did you?”
I looked at his hands, which he’d put upon the table those old hands seeking work. I saw the bluish thick veins on his tanned, coarsened skin and the old scar on his finger.
“No,” I sighed, “I suppose ghosts aren’t able to speak.
“But how can you be so sure if you did not even try?” he asked.
I lifted my eyes. He was looking at me with curiosity. A tender, understanding smile lit up his face. But there was no trace of sadness in it anymore.