December 29, 2014 by Kambili M.A. Chimalu
I have a photo of a man whose name I don’t know. Some may think me crazy or ask, “why do you have his photo?”
The answer is, “I don’t know.” All I know is that the face I see looking back at me holds so much innocence and promise. The smile frozen in time reminds me that to be alive is to keep smiling. His eyes, like the Sirens, beckon me to drown in them. In drowning, I explore the depths of those eyes to discover the secrets they hold: the secret to happiness that radiates from the photo to me.
I hang the photo at the foot of my bed because its tranquility sings me to sleep and its ever present smile wakes me to the promise of a beautiful day. Waking, the eyes remind me to see the innocence in the world, to look at the world through his eyes, and to not let fear or hate take over. Each morning, I awake and try to duplicate the face on the canvas in my mirror. I smile, I make my eyes vacant, and I hope … Yes, I hope.
One may ask, “why do you have so much attachment to a photo of someone you do not know?” They do not realize that the answer lies in the mystery of the question. It is because I do not know him that I am so attached to him. Does that make sense to even me? I don’t know. In this time that is forever etched on the photo, he is smiling at me and me alone. He has no care in the world and his smile reminds me that the world is a wonder to be beheld everyday. He looks directly into my soul and sees me. He does not behold me with judgement in his eyes. His smile never smirks when it is directed at me.
I have this photo because I will always have this moment of his life, like I too was a part of it. The face, smile, eyes, and innocence in this photo never age; it is my constant in life. He is me. I am him. We both are. When I look at the photo, I am loved unconditionally and someone always has a smile for me.
When my light gradually dims from this earth, I will look at my stranger and go, “this is the face that got me through life.”