Day 306 - Carlos (1st person I approached)
November 02, 2014 - Carlos was sitting alone when I approached him. I thought he was working on his computer. He agreed to chat with me once I told him what I was doing. I found out he was trying to watch a soccer game online.
“It’s okay though, the score is five-zero, and my team (Alianza Lima) are winning, so the game is pretty much over. They might score another goal, but it’s not like hockey, there’s no chance the other team will win,” he said.
Carlos was born in Lima, Peru.
“My childhood was difficult,” he says. “My father could be a violent man at times. I have one brother who is just over a year older than I am. My father used to beat him and was physically abusive towards my mother as well. He never hit me. My father would read the bible and gave speeches about the Apostle Paul (considered to have influenced Christianity second only to Jesus Christ). Yet I saw such a different man in private. When I was eleven years old, my father left the home.” Carlos went on to tell me it was confusing for him.
“I felt relieved that my father left, and I felt guilty that I felt that way. He is my father. I was confused to see my mother stand at the window, smoking a cigarette and crying, waiting for him to come back. This didn’t happen every day, but it went on for about a year. My older brother tried to help my mother as much as he could,” said Carlos.
“I wasn't able to discuss anything with people that I knew. My mother had to go out to work to support the family. In Lima, there wasn’t what you’d call babysitters. It was my brother and I, and the television became our babysitter. We used to watch a lot of soap operas. I became very isolated and spent most of my time immersed in academia. That is how I found satisfaction. I became an ‘A’ student. My father would show up for school events where I received accolades for my work, but I rarely saw him otherwise,” he said.
Carlos went to university right after high-school, to study science.
“I had a best friend in university. But he failed one year and then I was on my own again,” he told me.
“I met a woman that was at the same university. Looking back, I realize that I was trying to fill the void I felt from my childhood. She went to church and I started to go, to please her. Everything I heard went in one ear and out the other. We got engaged and then married after one year. I hoped that getting married would help me to feel complete,” he said.
In 1996, Carlos and his wife came to Vancouver.
“I was studying for my Master's degree in microbiology. I was attending UBC (University of British Columbia). My wife and I had a child, my daughter. After getting my Master’s degree, I continued on to get my PhD. My wife and I started to go to church here in Vancouver. Again, I didn’t really hear anything. After ten years together, my wife left me. Once again, I felt alone,” said Carlos.
“I read the story of the Sermon on the Mount, from the bible. Blessed are the poor, blessed are the merciful, these meant something to me. I realized that I was trying to make up for all the things that I had taken responsibility for,” he told me.
"In the bible, Peter walks on the water. It happens when he looks right into the eyes of Jesus Christ. I felt like when I tried to walk on the water, I sank below the surface. I had to accept that good and bad things happen. Having faith in god and a solid foundation in my life, I would be okay, God would always be there. I knew I needed to give love, and not look for it to satisfy me. By giving love, I would feel complete. I took a big risk, and despite the time and money and risk, I went back to Peru, and I met with my father. I asked for his forgiveness. I needed to forgive him. Love the sinner. We talked, we cried and we hugged. I had judged him, and in doing so, I walked around feeling incomplete. My father was just another human being trying to do his best. God was the all the love I needed,” said Carlos.
His father, who has never enjoyed taking time off work, has come to Vancouver twice, to visit his son and get to know his granddaughter.
“He came the first time for five weeks and then for four weeks. I try to speak with him on the telephone once a week as well. I’ve learned that by being a better son, I am a better father with my daughter,” he said.
“I went to a conference related to work and I met with my aunt, my father's sister. I found out some of my father’s story that I never knew about. His mother had died when he was two years old. He was raised by a woman who was not related to his father. His father was a captain of a large ship that meant he was gone for months at a time. I understood my father better,” said Carlos.
“I have a good relationship with my daughter. Her mother also has her PhD in the same field as I do. Our daughter is far more intelligent than either of us are,” he said, smiling. “As long as I have love to offer, I am good. I don’t need to do things to earn love, but giving love away gives me satisfaction. I can’t feel love if I hold on to it. If I keep all my love inside and don’t give it away, I can’t feel love.” #notastranger