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He Who Went Through the Exit Door

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He Who Went Through the Exit Door

By Iriah Monica B. Benito

My grandfather lived his life anticipating the end of the tunnel. He trudged through its dark, damp, and dangerous chamber with his eyes set on the exit sign and his heart held on his right hand. With the way he talked like a drunk man, the way he smiled like he knew all was right, the way the brown in his eyes felt like the promise of a new day, it was hard to believe that he was ever even thinking about his own demise.  

I lived my whole life thinking that my grandfather was Santa Claus. He had the big, round belly, the white hair (though often hidden under a worn cap) and the laugh that could be heard all the way to his mother’s home, but he was always donned in the sickening scent of smoke, ashes, and liquor that the image of him slipping down a chimney to visit children made me uncomfortable. Looking back at it, grandpa was the one who chuckled the hardest when I presented that thought. He was a jolly man, all right, yet there was always a lingering sadness on his face that younger me couldn’t have understood. I never knew more than the figure he stood in my life. The conversations we shared never had the warmth of a good friend’s nor did they hold much impact in my growth. All I could remember was that he tried to build a fortune with the use of his engineering diploma and his own wits, which all sadly came to a halt when he found my grandmother, the girl whose heart he found happiness in. That happiness didn’t last because upon having one child and another and another, my grandfather realised how difficult it was to manage equilibrium between the dreams his brain wished to pursue and the dreams his heart begged to continue. His heart won, leaving him miserably happy his entire life. My father often told me that since grandpa couldn’t live life the way he wanted it, the only thing he ever wished to do was to find the time to stray from the path he took and turn the other way. Even for just a moment. To feel what it would’ve been like on the other side of the coin. But, it’s all too late for him. He didn’t mind it, though. Instead of moping about the lost chance, he marched on forward, hoping to reach the exit, which he felt would bring him back to the very beginning if it would ever bring him there.

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