I won’t lie – the first couple of weeks after that incident, I couldn’t help but wonder a series of whys. Why did I take this little chimera beneath my wing? I wasn’t ready for any sort of organism to depend on me, let alone one that held higher sentience. Betwixt scholarly obligations, remaining dutiful to my dojo, and upholding a plethora of jobs, I felt like I’d be doing a disservice to myself and this little guy clothed in an elastic hoodie that somehow still remained three sizes too large. It’s odd, though – after about two months had elapsed, things started getting less hectic. Perhaps acquiring a new sense of responsibility in a black and white package brought about a whole new realm of time management, or maybe my employers and professors eased up on me when I had to tick ‘Legal Guardian’ next to documents and affidavits. Alright, the former is a LOT more plausible than the latter, but still! Things were still just as cramped as they had ever been, but I finally acquired that elusory ‘free time’ my friends from college kept yammering on about. Free time that I used to spend time with Tahajin, and for marginally selfish reasons… He made me appreciate the small things I had overlooked for a good decade. I lost the grandeur in just looking out a window at night, watching the city gradually turn into a runway of dull orange shine. I forgot that a simple stroll through the park could turn into an adventure – especially with an elevated vantage point. He’s let… No, he’s FORCED me to rediscover all this silent splendor that busy folk like myself usually view as frivolous.
Then… Oh, then... There’s always the other why. Why did I carry such disdain for this bundle of innocence? I remember the instant I brought him home at his countenance alone brought my blood to a boil. I’d glance at him; snarl involuntarily, and about face – even if I needed something in his direction. This little trooper has a much stronger constitution than I did at his age. Even though he was well aware that he was the cause of my upset, he’d try to comfort me – either by holding my leg or flopping onto my lap and smoothing over my cheek, which always managed to elicit a smile and a bout of wags. Then, to seal the deal, he’d just beam up at me with those huge, inverted discs… Smiling away as if nothing what wrong with…anything. That took levels of nerve I couldn’t even begin to describe.
Looking back on that, it’s a wonder to think that I despised someone like that.
One thing’s for sure, I’m glad that he didn’t grow up and apart from his ‘maternal figure’ as the years progressed.
“So, do you remember this picture, Taha?”
“Oh, God – that is ANCIENT! Look at my HEAD. It’s enormous compared to…well, everything else!”
“Lord, did I really used to wear that tank top? Jeez, and those pants with THOSE sandals? I’d like to lean on the excuse that I’m colorblind, but that is glaring – even to me!”
“Eugh, and I am so glad I decided to braid this ponytail. It looks ridiculous loose like that.”
“I think it looks rather cute! In fact, ALL of you looks rather cute! You’re like a little fluffy ball of sunshine.”
“Oh, of course you’d think that way – it’s practically your obligation to believe that!"
“Man, I must have been a nuisance at that age. I’m fairly certain there wasn’t ONE THING beneficial I did for ya.”
“You’d think that, wouldn’t you?”