His Words Came Tumbling Out
A suburban New York teenager pushes her Sri Lankan father to reveal a past he had struggled to forget.
The chair screeched against the hardwood floor as the waitress pulled it out from under our table. I sat down across from my dad at René’s Cafe, a small diner in our standard suburban hometown of Fairport, New York, about a five-hour drive north of the city. The weathered-but-still-cozy restaurant hummed with conversations shared by old friends reuniting and old couples maintaining their Sunday morning rituals. Sunlight poured in through the window beside me, forming a blinding rectangle on the scratched wooden floor. The air was warm and smelled like toast, a little bit burnt. I stared at my coffee-stained menu as I thought about how I was going to start this conversation with the man sitting across from me.
A few days earlier, I had asked my dad to meet me for brunch here. I was working in Fairport as a rising college junior for the summer, writing for a local newspaper. He and my mother were temporarily living in Ithaca in order to care for her ni…