Mirrors, Memories, Light

A second anniversary, trying to distil some thoughts and feelings, a father’s reflections in poetic prose.

I wrote this a few days ago over the late May bank holiday, the second anniversary of Naseeb’s passing, and wanted to share it with anyone who remembers Naseeb.   I know quite a few friends are wondering how I am and I never manage to put it into words properly or sometimes don’t say much at all, but I guess this gives an idea though its written at the toughest time of the year for both us parents.  Its kind of written in a poetic prose-monologue style, not on purpose it’s just how it came out and then tidied up to be shared.

– – – – –

Mirrors, Memories, Light

We’re having a beer at a busy square in a bohemian locality of Barcelona.  This evening a crowd of young people gather together, chatting, chilling, a few playing instruments.  You’re imbued with the energetic and creative vibe of the place and feel you’d love to come here maybe to stay one day.

We’re canoeing around a small lake at Gwalia farm near Machynlleth in Wales.  You’re 10 years old with a face full of radiant vigour.  Later you fall into the water and drench, big hassle when we’re away camping.  Hey ho, since when was a drenching allowed to get in the way?  Next day with that mischievous smile you’re raring to go again.

Two years have passed,
you’re still not here.
My phone is always switched on
awaiting your call, though
I know it will never come.
But what if it did?

So many issues relating to your departure,
from failures of systems to
the poor public understanding of suicide to
the social construction of males to
I want to thrash them all out and
change the world, but I know
we’ll only get to scrape a few of them.

We’re in a car on the way to your junior school.  The month is May and your favourite tree, the Laburnum, can be seen everywhere full of majestically drooping yellow flowers.  We count the number of Laburnums we can spot as we drive, amazed at how many there are.

Quiet days are rare.
I’m usually kept busy.
I recall the things I did that
made you proud of me, and
try to do them better.
I recall the issues that
you cared about and
try to make the mark that
you would have liked
to see made.

Your mother and me, we
hack away, then hack some more
to improve systems
that should have prevented
your leaving this world, they could yet
prevent others.
Holding your memories I try
to keep the flame
you left here

I’m pausing today, one of a batch of enforced quiet days.
Too paralysed to do much else
on this tear-stained second anniversary of your passing.
The times we enjoyed together are now too precious for words.
That was life, yes, and we enjoyed it.
You would have carried on enjoying it if
you’d got past the hurdles that grew in size,
piling themselves one on another.

You’re in your room.  You’ve just turned 16 and you drag me in excited to show me a music video.  Who would it be this time?  The Chilli Peppers?  Wu Tang?  The young Ed Sheeran?  You wear a broad grin as you see me transfixed on watching the just released video for ‘Patience’ by Damien Marley and Nas, followed by a version with the lyrics on screen.  I’m completely bowled over!

We’re sat in the café at Longford Park, Manchester.  We’re doing the Guardian crossword, a favourite with your mum and you’re always game for the challenge.  You firmly lay down a rule: no cheating by looking up the answer on a mobile phone.

A friend of yours said to us,
“It’s always the sensitive ones.”
Yes, you were confident
with a great sense of humour, but
also sensitive, inquisitive and thoughtful.
It’s often hard to take a
step back from ourselves and
see our own worth and beauty.
Not romanticised or self-conscious,
super-imposed or on a pedestal, but
simple and honest beneath our warts.
The elusive step back, like time and space,
is always buried in the noise.

We’re in Rome, April 2015, briefly sitting under the canopy outside a café.  A torrential downpour pushes everyone off the streets.  Forced to stay put, we relax and order another round.  The waitress strolls to the front of the canopy facing the fast submerging square.  She tunefully sings a Gypsy Kings song, your mum pulls out some knitting.  You give me an inviting nod and pull out a pack of cards.  We play our game of the moment, Piquet, which I only win when you are distracted.   Your warm chuckling accompanies the soundtrack of the song and the rain.

So many memories and yet
they are never enough.
I hold on to all of them, I want
to be back there with them, not
where I am now.
That’s the only way I can stay
close to you.

I look in the mirror and tell myself
Even we ghosts have to move forward.
There is no return.
We’ll hold each other’s hands I say, pick up
what pieces we have and build
something worthwhile.  I’ll hold your
hand tightly and keep it
warm as we step forwards.  But
I can never stop looking back.

      – by Kooj Chuhan, Naseeb’s ever proud father

– – – – –

‘Patience’ music video by Damien Marley and Nas:

Discover more from Naseeb Chuhan Memorial

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.

2 thoughts on “Mirrors, Memories, Light”

  1. Thank you. It’s beautifully written, generous and evocative. Shimmering moments that will not fade, now. Much love Kooj. X

  2. Many people, we know, will have been thinking about you both at this very difficult and painful anniversary.

    Kooj, your thoughts, feelings and reflections are so tenderly, eloquently and bravely expressed; you have given us some lovely moments from Naseeb’s life as a boy and as a young man.

    So many memories; never enough, of course, but still such very good memories to hold on to. You both had some wonderful times with Naseeb, taking him to interesting places and giving him great experiences which he enjoyed sharing with you. You are keeping the flame alive. And yes, he was proud of you and had every reason to be so.

    You and he remain in our thoughts.


    John and Valerie

Leave a Reply