Why am I afraid? What am I afraid of? Of meeting the same end as my father? Of dying? Or of betrayal?
It is all the same. The hospital, this room, everything? Will history repeat itself? Will I suffer from the same agony that my father had? But I have incurred it upon myself. If it does happen, I have no right to complain for I have brought up my progeny exactly as my father had. The time has come. I do not want to die like this. I must do it, but just to the clergyman? Or to David too? To save him from meeting the same end as I?
I can see the door of the room opening. It must be David and the clergyman.
“Good Morning, Mr Almack,” a heavy voice addressed him.
“Good Morning, Mr Yale. Thank you….thank you for coming,” I could feel my breath quickening.
No, my son wasn’t going to do that to me. He was not going to repeat the same mistakes as he had. He had to stop him; for both their sakes. I cannot bear to breathe my last knowing who is the cause of it. I cannot bear to see my own flesh and blood, for whom I have amassed all this wealth, for whom I have sacrificed my own father, to take me to Death’s Door. I do not have the courage to bear the repercussions of my own foolish actions.
“Mr Almack! Mr Almack! Are you alright? You seem to be unwell. Should we send for the doctor?”
“No, no, no Mr Yale…….I am alright….was evaluating my past. Hahaha….that is strange, isn’t it? All my life, I had been evaluating other people and now…….Anyways, forget it…… No David.Don’t leave, yet. But maybe, after you have heard what I have to say, you would want to do that, except that I will not stop you then . Sit down, Mr Yale. David, you too.”
They thought I had missed the skeptical, puzzled look that was exchanged between them. Tuberculosis has affected my lungs, not my eyesight, I silently reminded them, not anticipating the long, dreary hours that would fill the rest of my numbered days.
“Power plays strange games with the hearts and minds of perfectly sane people, Mr Yale. They say that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is true. Power is like opium…..once you taste it, you like it, you want more of it until you become addicted to it, and then very slowly, like a thief, it steals all that you have. Love, family,life…..everything. It feeds on your soul, paralyzing your conscience, killing all the innocence within you, turning you into a monster that has a maddening, almost frightening thirst for power, and ofcourse, money. They go hand in hand, don’t they? Their love enslaves you until you have no other God but power and money, no other religion but their pursuit, and no other life but that of deceit and sins.
It was a day like today, but instead of me, it was my father who lay on this bed, strapped with these plastic tubes. He was ill, but the doctors had hope. At seventy-five, he could beat any illness, they had vouched. It didn’t suit my plans. For years, I had been overshadowed by the charismatic, domineering personality of my father, a successful politician. His prolonged life was bad news for me. It would eat up all my plans of amassing more wealth…and, ofcourse power. His death meant power….people would bow down to me. My children would live a life of greater luxury. This was my golden chance. There was absolutely no way I could have missed it.
You know what I did? I killed my own father. My father. The man who had brought me into this world, the man who had held my finger, teaching me how to walk, the man who had ensured I had the best of everything. I killed him. I tampered with his medicines, his injections, administering the wrong ones. And I got what I had wanted….his political mantle, his wealth, his estates, everything.”
The deafening silence in the room was haunting.
“Mr Almack……I……” that the clergyman was utterly bewildered, was not a surprise.
David, his face white as a ghost’s, was breathing slowly. His brown eyes were wide with horror.
“Don’t say anything, Mr Yale. I know death awaits me…..but I did not want to die before unburdening my soul….I feared my son would do the same with me, see me as an obstacle in the path of his success. I did not want to die that way, but with an easy conscience….” Somehow, I had felt an explanation was due. I felt much lighter now, as if a great burden had been unloaded from my shoulders.
“An easy conscience ,Dad? Really? Infact, I am ashamed to call you my father. Do you think I am like you? I may be your son, but not your shadow. You are selfish. You have confessed now, at your death-bed, only because you felt guilty, only because you wanted to pretend that by confessing to a clergyman, your sins would be washed away. No. They won’t. You will have to pay for it. You think God will forgive you for killing your own father? Did you even pause to think for even once how I will feel about it?…..to have a murderer for your father?” He was in tears now.
I heard the sound of a chair being pushed. Someone stormed out of the room.
“Mr Almack? I….ehh. I am soory for David’s…” I think it was the clergyman apologizing for my son’s behavior,”…And if you are truly repenting, then God is Merciful. He will forgive you. To err is human, and to not repent after that is an even greater mistake. You have been bounded by the chains of your own guilty conscience, and that has obliterated everything within you. That, has been a punishment in itself. You have dwelled in an inferno. But God is Omnipotent, the Best Judge. He alone knows the secrets of our hearts….” The clergyman’s voice was now shaky.
“I have done what I wanted to do,” I interrupted him. “I have confessed. I don’t need anything else…Thank you for your time.”
I hated him. I hated him for witnessing the humiliation that I had to suffer at the hands of my own son. I wanted to die.
He left too, leaving me alone, while I waited for Death to come and embrace me.
It is now dark outside. It is also dark inside……inside my heart, my life. Every man has his price, and I had mine. I have nothing left now, except loneliness. My fear, the fear that made me confess, is coming true; my son will desert me, leave me to die, leave me to turn into a lunatic. Yes, my fear is coming true. Life is precious. Hope is eternal.