Diana Markosian Untitled from the series Inventing My Father 2013 Inkjet Print 20 x 24″.
You are seven. You move to a new country and your Father is left behind. No warnings, no goodbyes, no way to contact him. All reminders of him are removed out of your life. He is cut out of every photo you own. Those around you don’t admit his existence. All questions are met with silence.
How long could you hold onto his image in your head? How long can you keep the memories of him alive? What would you do? Do you do as your mother says and pretend he’s dead or do you start inventing a father?
New realities form, sprouting from a need to be wanted, to be a daughter, his Daughter. Your childish mind explains away his absence. His image becomes heroic, he’s a spy, an astronaut. He’s saving the world! He becomes bigger and stronger in your mind’s eye. Imperfections are smoothed away or forgotten. Idealised dreams now become memories, memories squirreled away and gorged on in moments of loneliness. They keep you going, but only just.
What would happen if fifteen years later you meet him again. Who will he be? Your father? Can he even be your Father if your father has been someone else all this time. Granted, this father had been created and built in your mind, but he had still been serving the purpose of a father for so many years. Could you even be his daughter? He must have, consciously or not, created an image his mind of who his daughter is.
It might not be you
Sarah Joy Hay