A Cup of Coffee
The fall semester of 2017 starts today. I am not sure about other students, but for me, I am excited to start my classes after an amazing summer break. As usual, it takes me an hour and ten minutes to get to my college. This long commute does not bother me since I am all equipped and energetic to start my academic year.
My first class of the day is communication. The classroom is located in the Cultural Arts Center, my second favorite building on campus after the library. I arrive at my assigned classroom ten minutes ahead of time. I am not the only student who comes to class early. Unsurprisingly, there are many students who also wait to meet their professor, new classmates, and to discover the class’ journey. A group of students sit in the front of the classroom, so I assume that they are my classmates. Some of them look younger than me, but some look about my age, and YES! They seem smart.
My professor comes, unlocks the room, and welcomes her students into the classroom. I sit in the second row between a male and a female student. The professor introduces herself, explains the class’s criteria, and other important matters that relate to communication skill. Then, after she finishes her introduction, it is time for the students to introduce themselves.
She gives each student a small piece of paper with a question on it and asks them to get up and find their partners who also have the same question. So, I leave my seat and join four other students. The question for our group is “If you could have a cup of coffee with anyone living or dead, who would it be? Why?”
We are asked to take turns to answer the question one at a time. One of the students in my group said that she would drink it with her father since there were only two of them who drank coffee in her family. Another student said that she would drink it with her grandfather, so she could ask him about her mom’s childhood which her mom never told her. Before my turn, the girl who sat on my left said that she wanted to drink it with her dad because she lost him when she was very young. She would like to get to know him more.
After hearing this last answer, I felt something hit me in my heart since she had chosen her father whom she had lost at a very young age, just like me. Yet, maybe her childhood experiences were different from mine.
When it was my turn, I said my name, and I told them that if I could have a cup of coffee with anyone living or dead, that person would be my father, because I lost him when I was in grade three, I had a lot of questions to ask him, and I was sure that things would have been totally different if I had a chance to sit down for a cup of coffee with him as a grownup 26-year-old daughter.
I end my answer when I actually I want to say more. I know that I need to control my emotions because I am not on the stage with an audience around me. I am in a classroom with stranger some of whom may become my future friends.
After class, I walk out to the next building for my next class, but I cannot stop imagining myself drinking a cup of coffee with my dad. I would look at him in his eyes the same way he would look at me and converse with him like a father and a daughter.
I assumed that he would stop drinking alcohol, stop smoking cigarettes and weed, and cease beating my mom and my siblings. I would ask him about his experiences during the Khmer Rouge regime. How did he survive? Where did he meet my mom, and how did they get married? Of course, my mom has told me about some of these stories, but it would have been more exciting if I could hear them form my dad.
I would also ask him what made him become so violent to his family? I would tell him about my job when I was an artist, and how amazing I felt on stage. I would share with him my dreams and my life’s goals. And of course, I would want to hear his opinions and advice. I would tell him about my ex boyfriends and perhaps introduce him to the next one.
There are countless questions that I would ask him and a million of things that I would raise with him. But no! The reality is that I cannot. I know very little about him. There are a lot of sad memories that he left for me and our family. But the best thing I can do is to use my imagination to create my own dream father in my mind.
I have the power and the freedom to use my creative imagination for my own peace. It caucuses no harm to anyone. My mother once told me “nothing is longer and faster than your thoughts.” I interpret her words as meaning that when I think about going to places or doing something that I cannot physically achieve, in my thoughts, my body is already there enjoying my feelings, creating the pictures as I wish them. Nobody can limit me, except myself.
In the end, instead of having a cup of coffee with my dad, which of course it is impossible. I drink a large cup of tea, and write this post. I am sure my father has been hearing my thoughts since the day he left me.