The moment had come. To stand in front of the father he had never known, hear the timbre of his voice for the first time, watch his face for signs of resemblance–all this made it difficult to speak. Nabil had the same complexion, blue eyes, and wavy hair as Youssef, but he also had the yellow teeth and purple lips of a heavy smoker, a potbelly that indicated a love of beer or food,
or both, and a disorderly appearance, as if he had been interrupted in the middle of a private moment. Along with the inevitable disappointment that results when reality collides with dreams, Youssef noticed something unexpected: the complete despair in his father’s eyes. It made Youssef want to reach out and touch him. But as he took a few steps inside the room, his father’s expression of despair gradually changed, replaced by barely contained impatience. He felt so out of place in this well-appointed office, and so disconcerted by that look, that he couldn’t help being distant. As he extended his hand, he gazed at his father coolly.
“How are you?” Nabil said mechanically.
Secret Son by Laila Lalami