He pondered over the question for all of his life. He never could let it go and asked himself over and over again: if I hadn't said anything, would he still be alive?
Having been evicted, my father's family had to move in with his grandmother, a purple-haired raging alcoholic in her early 70s, living in a solitary run down house in the outskirts of the city. From growing up in a home dominated by an emotionally absent father, the two children now had to spend their time in one of violence and constant upset.
My father was 14 at the time. He had seen his own father descend from a pedestal of power to becoming a shadow of a man, a sad wreck for whom he had lost all respect. He wanted to feel compassion but could only remember how he had never been loved like a son, the way he needed and deserved. He wanted to confront him but was afraid of the response, or the possible lack of one.
One late evening he sat on his bed in the dark, listening to a fragile silence. His father was in the other room with his bottle of whiskey and endless amounts of bitterness. He could hear his strained breathing, trapped in a state between terror and apathy. After what seemed like an eternity, the broken man got up, sighed loudly and walked towards the bedroom. Standing in the doorway he looked at my father, then on the floor, then on my father again. He said, mumbling, "do you know I was always disappointed in you?"
"You will never amount to anything."
"I tried to set a good example for you. I worked and I struggled, and all I got was a lousy slouch of a son. You are the only failure in my life."
My father stared at him for a full minute, then spoke, his voice trembling with indignation.
"Of all the things I wish for in this world", he said, "what is most important to me is that I never become the sort of man that you have always been".
The next morning he was awakened by the local police knocking on the door. They told him his father had walked out infront of the train an hour earlier.