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My Father’s First Life (Is Mine)

by Alyeesha Kaif

I wonder if when my father was a boy

He anticipated the months of static

one coma would bring.

The flash of agony

In a moment’s notice that

Would take away his first life.

Perhaps that was why his first love

Was the photograph.

Travelling the chronicles of

A man I’d never met, 

My hands traverse the crisp edge of

Adolescence as it lingers on memories

I feel I’ve lived before.

An everlasting smile I could never recognise

Except at a glance in the mirror ,

A look of love I’d longed for that my mother

Sees reflected in my eyes.

I flip the next album in the pile.

The sound of my own laugh fills the

Silence of a photograph capturing him 

after a joke while I match 

his crooked grin, tugged just slightly to the left 

At the playground with an arm slung around my aunt.

I question how much of identity is hereditary as I stare

At a kaleidoscope of mirror images, becoming a 

 puzzle of a life that was never mine.

How many birthdays more till I 

Outgrow the boy I see before me?

Till the filmstrips in the hourglass slip

Away completely from my searching hands

And every cranny of his albums has been burned

Into my cornea.

What more can I do to upkeep this loop of jamais vu

Whilst looking at the face I discern to be both

His and mine?

The page flickers.


Seventeen and insane, Kaif is an aspiring journalist, author and poet. An optimist, Kaif believes in the art of capturing the nuances of everyday life in storytelling. She feels everything intensely, often translating her emotions into poetry or prose. She loves Bollywood movies, loud parties and mango smoothies. When she isn’t writing, you will probably find her working on one of her many other endeavours such as graphic design!


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