The Soldier of Justice
Illustration by Justine Patrice Bacareza
I remembered feeling so excited and scared as if something incredible was bound to happen.
I was very eager to awaken from my peaceful slumber in the dark enclosure. But this dark enclosure had been my haven where I was comforted by the cradle songs of my angels.
In this dark enclosure I was safe. I heard the melodic voice of my angels. But one voice stood out.
It was soothing. The angel’s voice was gentle and loving. It called to me with tender words.
The angel whispered, “Hey, little one. I am your father and you are my dearest child. I cannot wait to meet you. You are so precious to me. You are the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Hmmm. My angel was my father.
December 11, 1998
It was loud and bright. There were so many people running around and screeching. Yet despite all that, I could still hear my angel.
My father held me close. And as I looked up at my father for the first time, I gave him my first sweet smile.
“Oh Mary, you mean more to me than anything. I promise to be a soldier of justice so that I will always protect you,” my father said as he was weeping with joyful tears.
Hmmm. My angel gave me his first and only promise.
December 11, 2001
I was three years old.
Everyone told me that I was observant.
“What a keen child you are, they said.
I didn’t know what “observant” or “keen” was. But I always watched people. I listened to all they had to say. I loved asking people all kinds of questions.
This was the first time I’ve ever really noticed my father. He had a brooding, pensive, and bloodshot stare as if he was always in deep thought before uncovering a certain mystery. He was a calm and witty man. I knew then that he was a thinking and reasonable man.
He only did two things. He read… a lot. And he did this endlessly. He was constantly hunched over the desk scouring through a mountain of books.
“There has just got to be a better way,” he unceasingly muttered.
He was a driven man who would not stop until the reason was the best.
But, when he was with me, he would stop reading and take me up on his lap and share to me his wild stories about impossible adventures. I knew then that he only showed this unknown care-free side of himself to me.
Hmmm. My father was bold and passionate.
December 11, 2003.
I was 5 years old.
My father and I were rudely awakened by an unexpected call in the middle of the night.
My father bellowed, “I’ve passed the bar exam! Little one, I’m gonna be a lawyer.”
I then asked, “Father, what will you be doing?”
“Dear little one, I am now gonna be a soldier of justice just like I promised you when I was still your angel. Little one, I’m gonna protect others and keep them safe from all harm like I hope to do with you,” father answered.
A sense of pride coursed through me. I just knew that my father would be a dedicated and faithful soldier of justice. Hmmm. My father was clever and he was gonna help others.
Yeah right. I would soon come to regret all of that.
December 11, 2005
I was in utter disbelief to what my teacher had just said.
I responded, “Wow, really?”
“Mary, you are brilliant and you deserve this. Congratulations,” my teacher replied.
I was completely astonished. I hurried back home to tell my father the news.
I found him by the desk, restless and exhausted. I knew that it wasn’t the right time but I approached him anyways.
“Hey dad, I’ve just been selected to join our school contest. It sure would be nice if you could be there to watch me,” I said to him in a shaky voice. He didn’t even look at me when he said, “I’m sorry dear one. I just can’t. I hope you understand.”
By this time, my father was extremely occupied. He could no longer spend as much time with me like he used to. He withdrew the casual small talk, the spontaneous smiles, and the ritual stories and adventures.
Hmmm. My father was slowly turning into a different person.
December 11, 2008
Today was a very important day for me. Yet my own father was nowhere to be found.
“Mary, your father had to work late. He says he’s very sorry he couldn’t he make it,” Simon apologized.
He continued,” But look, he’s got a gift for you.”
My father gave me a watch. It was small and simple. Just the way I liked most of my things. On the plus side, my father knew.
Given the right circumstances, I would have adored the watch. But all it did was represent the lack of determination of my father.
Honestly, I didn’t know what was worse. To be without a watch and remain unaware of how much time someone has abandoned you or to be persistently reminded by a watch of how much time someone has abandoned you.
December 11, 2010
Everyone told me that I was observant.
“What a keen child you are,” everyone said.
I just realized that I started to spurn my father. I despised him always making time for others and being completely absent in my life. The duties as a soldier of justice have stolen my entire father from me until I was left with nothing more than an empty shell of a man. I am nothing more than a nuisance to him. An unnecessary baggage he should not have carried. The duties as a soldier of justice have notoriously stripped everything that I loved about my father.
The duties as a soldier of justice have caused my father to break his one and only promise to me.
December 11, 2011
Today was a very important day for me. Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t be here.
Apparently, today was also the day he was promoted as the Chief Magistrate of the city. He was the youngest person to ever be appointed for that position.
I guess he found that more significant.
December 11, 2013
I couldn’t take it anymore.
I was deeply troubled. All my thoughts took a dark turn and I snapped. I finally confronted my father. It just had to come to this.
I mustered up all my courage. I shamelessly stormed his room and recklessly yelled at him with renewed abandon.
December 12, 2013
I remembered feeling so excited and scared. As if something incredible was bound to happen.
I expected an almighty screaming match but instead my father steadily took me aside and held me close. I couldn’t stop crying.
“Oh Father, don’t I mean more to you than anyone. Didn’t you promise to be a soldier of justice so that you would always protect me?”
“Dear one, I love you so much that nothing in this world will ever compare to you. But to be a soldier of justice means sacrificing the person you love the most. Dear one, I’m sorry I couldn’t live up to my promise.”