Headline Jan 31, 2016/ ''' FATHERHOOD -FIRESIDE- *FRAGRANCE '''


ALL MALE STUDENTS or all male readers,  -will never truly know what life and love is  until they guide their children through their formative years.

*It is such a shame that the children never remember it*  Not quiet knowing what to think or do, I turn to a  philosophic sweep to understand this beauty.

There are a number of design glitches in the human frame : the precipitous decision to stand upright instead of trundling on all fours. is something the world still doesn't understand?

But perhaps the worst of all ergonomic glitches was that we were born not knowing how to blow our noses. I don't expect this worries you much because the you probably got nose-blowing covered.

But you weren't born like that. There was a time in your life when the contents of your nose ran free.

I'd forgotten about the magic of  nasal flubber  until my new two both got colds on Christmas Day and one grew a geological outcrop that resemble an inverted  Old Man of Hoy and the other had twin spigots of effluvia that trickled onto her extended tongue.

Neither had any idea of the concept of blowing but they did instantly glean that bogies were edible   -which is an interesting Darwinian footnote. We are obviously born with the pick and chew gene.

The sight of them, blocked and soggy, retained some permanent memories,  -reminding me of something I saw in Africa. 

I was covering the war in Darfur from a refugee camp on the border with Chad in an old tent that passed as Medicins Sans Frontieres waiting room packed with women and their desperately dying children. There was one mother who stood out as strikingly beautiful.  I mean really memorable-looking.  

A face that was strong and implacable   -huge eyes and cheek bones cast in toffee- coloured bronze, framed in a single bright shawl. I signed in Tom the photographer to take her picture. It was an easy opening spread. She regarded him and his camera with her obsidian eyes devoid of emotion, she was as beautifully inscrutable as a sphinx.

As he kept snapping, the child was wrapped in the folds of her shawl, making that soft mewing that is exhausted way of children who are losing the light. Shrivelled with dehydration and malnutrition, her nose was clotted with a huge soggy goitre of snot.

The mother never took her eyes of from Tom's lens, and slowly and deliberately lent down and gently put her mouth  over her child's little nose and sucked, then swallowed. It was properly shocking on so many levels.

First, of course, it was disgusting an act passively aimed at the gaze of strange men from a woman who had probably lost her husband, her family, who had nothing but this little scrap of life in a shawl.

Many of the women in this room had been raped. Her face was a terrible liability. The act was overtly sexual but repellent, but that's not the overriding image or the memory that I carry. It was a profound act of Love.

At the edge of coping, there was very little this woman could do for her child, she had nothing left to give.

No more milk, no more protection, no more security or hope. But she could clean it. And at the margin of life, when all the options are spent, what's important is the simple and practical.

And Love is like that Messy and basic and animal. It isn't romantic or subtle when it's all we have left.     

The first lesson of being a parent, of being a man, is that you have no idea of what love is, or like, or for. I don't know how many times this world love gets mentioned on daily basis. Quiet a lot, I suspect.

Love arrives with fatherhood. Up until then you have just been paddling in love. Nobody ever tell you this, nobody ever explains that you can't feel the bottom, that you drown in the stuff.

Other men never mention that love, which is remiss of us, and our dads never tell us.

You can write  ''Love You''   on a birthday card, whisper love you to a sleeping tousled head,  but to explain to adolescent, a teenager,   -that terrifyingly transcendent fundamental act of nature that is loving your children,     is too difficult and choking.     

But you should know, you should be aware, that you can't be prepared for it,  in fact nothing prepares you for it.

But you shouldn't be surprised. 

The funny and sad thing is that the time when it's easiest to say it, when there is the greatest paternal emotion, when it's most obvious and strong, you never remember.

Those first years when you can't blow your nose,  when your father picked you up and rocked you and watched you sleeplessly as you slept, are blank. 

Later, as you grow up, the relationship is muddied with practicality, with the resentment and the accidents,   -with the dull rigmarole of discipline and bedtimes and homework, inappropriate behaviour, tantrums and tiredness.

And that is what you know of your childhood.

You remember dodging through it. But there were four scant years when you slept in an ocean of love and your father never forgets and it never goes away and it will come to you.

And you realise the greatest design fault of human beings is that they don't remember their childhood and can't recall their first words or first steps  -the first time they tasted chocolate or falling asleep on their father's shoulders in dark kitchens..

You need to know it's coming and you need to know it's already there.

With respectful dedication to all the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!   -the World Students Society:

''' A Tender Age  '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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