Hair and fear


He came across that picture early that afternoon. He was lolling on the deep red velvet sofa of his parent´s living room watching tv, just wasting his time. He turned his head for a moment and there he saw it, in an old- style silver frame, standing on top of a deep red satin upholstered Chippendale table. The Chippendale table had been there for years, together with the velvet sofa he was lolling on, right in the middle of his parent´s living room , its upholstery matching the pleats of the thick felt draperies that kept the sunbeams from entering the room, but until then it hadn´t attracted his attention at all, to his eyes that picture had amounted all the while  to nothing but another piece of an overdone set of furniture.

The picture showed his father and him. His father appears smiling and he, wearing an expression of complaint on his face. The photo was taken long ago during some Christmas holiday´s that he and his family had spent in some seashore beach resort in the Atlantic. Given that in his hometown it should have been raining at the time of the year when the photo was taken and given all the amusements that were available for them, kids, in that seashore beach resort he should rather have been smiling at the camera as his father was. Instead, he´s making a grimace that expresses grievance as if he were complaining at the vain effort to shake off his father´s embrace. Actually, if one looks closer at the picture, it is not an embrace but rather his father´s hands encroaching upon his hair what is going on at the moment of the shooting. His father, moreover, isn´t exactly stroking his hair, his  hands are aiming, stroke upon stroke, at straighten it out, at “taming” his dear son´s hair, as he used to say back in those days, so that the hair remained properly combed back like the hair of some of the movie stars his father was so  fond of.

It would certainly be an exaggeration to state that that expression of complaint on his face stood for any risk-taking worth the name, hard to trace any shadow of  heroism at the twisted corners of the kid´s mouth. However, as he looked at the picture for the last time while he sat up in the sofa and walked up to the tv set to turn it off, he couldn´t help feeling a vague sense of pride taking hold of himself, as if at the time when the photo was shot, he were already fighting a war he was barely conscious of.

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