Remoy Philip

writer. creator. producer.

Papa Papushka



At the tender and newly ripe age of twenty-seven I for the first time had a feeling I had never entertained before. Now let me build the scene for you as quickly as I can. It was at a gallery space which in all actuality is a grouping of galleries—each one in their own individual space representing one or a few artist that they believe is worth a damn. And in this space, this collective art space, I felt this new feeling in the in between. To be particularly less ambiguous, I felt what I never thought I would feel in a hallway. Where all that was there was was cement floors, white walls, and fluorescent lights. And as I stood there, aware of what was to happen, I let it happen. Let me be candid here. Like I alluded to in the last sentence, this physicality of what happened wasn’t necessarily new. The characters, in their individuality particular to name and physical make up were distinct, but in archetype were just the same as I’d always seen them: father and son.

Quickly I’d like to give a caveat to what made me a bit more envious of the moment. The boy, and I say boy because it’s how I felt instantaneously as the moment was occurring, said to me and the group around me (paraphrased of course) “I don’t want to SMOKE because my dad is around here somewhere.” And as we left the gallery we were in, and we were making our way to the front door where I knew I’d stand and enjoy the normal conversation around the normal company, these peoples, these boys and girls would smoke and engage in conversations of the most trivial of natures, there suddenly was the boy’s father.

“Oh look it’s my dad.” And again this is not new. I have seen men share emotions with their fathers. I have seen boys my age and above exchange in some many a sort of filial bonds with their dads. And yet, the moment when the boy then without thinking hugged his father, then kissed the top of the crown of his father’s head, and again moments later again kissed his father, I felt I had missed out on twenty-seven years of that kind of intimacy.

And maybe (not that everything needs to be reduced to this level) it has to do with culture. This particular father and son and family were Russian. Russian enough to where the boy could call his father Papushka and where the kids I was around would make mention of Odessa and I would know without a shadow of a doubt that Friday not Football was not in the breadth of this conversation. Maybe it’s just the emotional normalcy and physical display of this emotional normalcy not so necessarily known to me by an immigrant that lead me to feel a longing for something I didn’t know I longed for. I don’t want to be too general or reductionary, but I’ve seen most of my Anglo or “White” friends share this kind of love for their fathers and not feel half the loss that I felt in this instant.

I think that says something, and specifically to this culturally diverse dialogue. I think my eyes were specifically opened because I saw something shared between two peoples who would be considered the minority, who could have easily been ostracized like me and my family for being different and yet still sharing in an honest love, both intimate and physical, that I didn’t and only thought I knew as being something “American” or of the hegemony. Yet, I was seeing this type of relationship, something I universally decree as good or with quality in the family setting of a minority. And that opened my eyes up to the possibility that I could have had that had I had a father. And for the first time in twenty-seven years I wondered, “What would it be like to kiss my father and know that he loves me and is proud of me.”