The silence of the eldest daughter


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Barclays is sad and confused that on Thanksgiving his eldest daughter, Camelia, twenty-seven, did not email him greeting him and saying thank you. Barclays wonders: Is she angry or resentful with me? Did I do something against her? Did I write something that you didn’t like and didn’t like? Have I earned your silence?

Barclays communicates with its two older daughters via email. They don’t talk on the phone, they never talk on the phone, not even in emergencies. Barclays does not have the telephone numbers of his daughters, they have chosen not to give them to him, and his daughters do not have the numbers of the two cell phones that Barclays uses either. In reality, he doesn’t talk to anyone on the phone, not even his octogenarian mother, whom he misses so much. Why then do you have two cell phones? To listen to the messages at the end of the day. But he’s the enemy of talking on the phone. He believes, without proof, based on a paranoid suspicion, that talking on a cell phone causes damage to the brain. He also believes that talking on the phone is a waste of time.

Barclays’ second daughter, Paulina, 25, did say hello to her father on Thanksgiving. Paulina and her sister Camelia live in New York City. They do not live together, each one lives alone. Paulina wrote her father an affectionate email, telling him that she was with her boyfriend at his home in Connecticut, and together they would cook dinner to celebrate the holiday. Barclays felt that his daughter Paulina was not angry with him or disappointed in him or resentful of him in any way. He felt, what a relief, that everything was fine between him and Paulina. In fact, they saw each other recently, when Paulina and her boyfriend spent a few days in Miami, where Barclays lives.

Why would Camelia Barclays be upset with her father, to the point of not saying hello or saying thank you on Thanksgiving? Barclays doesn’t know, doesn’t even suspect it. The truth is that he has not seen it all this year. The last time he saw her was last Christmas, a short lunch at an Italian restaurant on the 25th. Then Camelia spent two weeks in Miami during the summer, in early June, but did not want to see her father. She was with a friend, at that friend’s apartment, and she decided she wanted to do a strict quarantine, and that’s why she didn’t want to see her father. Barclays insisted on meeting briefly, wearing masks, but Camelia was adamant and did not budge. Her father sent her money and a bag of delicacies to eat and she thanked him in the mail. But they did not see each other. Barclays was left with the illusion of seeing her.

Camelia Barclays is a brilliant, outstanding student. He studied finance at an Ivy League university in New York, worked at an investment bank, and is now studying law at another Ivy League university in Pennsylvania. She is very intelligent, much more than her father, and very ambitious, so much so that her father suspects that she may have political ambitions and, as she was born in Washington DC, aspire to the highest positions in the nation. Barclays paid him the first race, of course, and now they also finance the second race, and also sends him a generous allowance on time, the same as Paulina, who works in a technology avant-garde company and receives a fortune, much more than what his father makes on television and with the decimated sales of his ghostly books. In other words, Camelia and Paulina Barclays are successful women and, at such a young age, they have surely been more successful than their father.

Where did Camelia spend Thanksgiving? Who did you celebrate it with? She took a few weeks off from face-to-face classes at the university, decided that she would travel to Paris, and celebrated Thanksgiving, which the French don’t celebrate, with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, a French businessman. Camelia’s mother, Casandra, was not happy when she was married to Barclays and had two daughters with him: Camelia and Paulina. He was not happy because Barclays could not or did not know how to be faithful and wanted to be in another country, with another body, in another bed. Cassandra is now happy with her French boyfriend, he loves her like Barclays did not know how to love her: they speak French, they smoke tobacco with equal fervor, they drink wine since noon, they are happily intoxicated, they are one for which. Camelia uploads photos with them to her Instagram page, but she does not upload, she has never uploaded, a photo with her father, nor with her father’s wife, Silvina, nor with Silvina and Barclays’ youngest daughter, a girl named Sol. This means that, at least on social media, it seems that Camelia is proud of her mother’s family and ashamed of her father’s family. This is evident when Barclays mother, Mrs. Dorita, turns eighty years old, and her granddaughters Camelia and Paulina do not greet her by phone or email, despite the fact that their father suggests that they do so, that they have that minimum courtesy to his grandmother.

Sad and confused that his eldest daughter has not greeted him for Thanksgiving, nor laconically said thank you, Barclays writes him a short email:

-I’m sorry you don’t write to me for Thanksgiving.

However, before sending it to him, he hesitates, rethinks things and decides to delete it. You don’t want to sound like a resentful kid. He doesn’t want to do a melodrama. Better not say anything, he concludes.

But the next day, still hurt, he wrote another email to his daughter:

-One remembers the important people on the important days and forgets the expendable or irrelevant people.

Again, Barclays hesitates, deletes the mail, doesn’t send it. I shouldn’t be or look spiteful, he thinks. I must not understand his silence as an act of hostility. Perhaps Camelia is so happy in Paris that she simply forgot to greet me, even though I greeted her, hoping that she would answer me.

It seemed inevitable that Barclays, increasingly pained by the prolonged silence of his eldest daughter, would question whether he should continue to pay her for her second major, law school, and give her a generous monthly stipend so that she could afford a comfortable and comfortable life, though not as much as the one that Barclays and his second wife allow themselves on an island in Miami. Barclays thinks: I paid for her airfare to Paris, I didn’t ask her to spend Thanksgiving with us in Miami, I thought it was good to spend it with her mother in Paris, and since she asked me to pay for the ticket, no I hesitated to do so. I pay her everything, I give her everything, I have never been mean to her when it comes to money: that’s the way it is, why don’t you say thank you on the day we thank the people who deserve our gratitude? Maybe because you think that, despite being an economically present parent, I have been a sentimentally absent or neglectful parent? Maybe because he thinks I give him the right thing, the right thing, but could give him more? Is it because it hurts him to think that I give my wife Silvina more money than I give them, my daughters Camelia and Paulina? Because it is a fact that my older daughters, Barclays thinks, do not love my wife Silvina: when she has written them an email, they have not responded, nor have they allowed access to their private accounts on social networks, which Silvina interprets as a manifest sign of hostility.

When Barclays has already resigned himself to not sharing the reasons for his sadness with his eldest daughter, when he has preferred not to claim or demand anything, when he has understood that he must continue to give Camelia all the money she needs to graduate as a lawyer and in the meantime enjoy these years of such intense studies, she wrote him a very affectionate email from Paris:

-Dad, I’m sorry I forgot to say hello for Thanksgiving, but I’m studying twelve hours a day for my final exams and I don’t know what day it is.

Barclays is relieved. However, he does not know whether to believe him. Did Camelia really not read the mail he sent her on Thanksgiving? Didn’t you know it was Thanksgiving, having dinner with your mother and her boyfriend? And if you did forget to say thank you to your father, isn’t it true that you remember the important people and forget the irrelevant ones?

Now Barclays has to choose whether to email their oldest daughter or keep quiet. For the moment, still hurt, he cultivates rancor, that climbing plant that grows incessantly, and does not write to him. Have you thought about writing:

-Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter at all, the important thing is that you are happy with people who know how to make you happy.

But he hasn’t sent him that text because it hurts him to think that Camelia is no longer happy with him, not even one week a year, one day a year.

He has also thought of writing:

-It is very ungrateful of you not to thank me on the day of giving thanks.

But he has not sent that sour message either because it could only damage a relationship that, in Barclays’ eyes, is already too cold and distant, and therefore should not sour any more.

At the end of the day, awake in his bed, Barclays wonders: Is it possible that I have been a good father and continue to be a good father, but my daughters Camelia and Paulina think without telling me that they were unlucky that I was their father and would they have preferred to have a more normal father? Is it possible that they love me, but don’t want to see me because they are bored with me? Is it possible that they love me, but at the same time detest my wife Silvina? If they don’t want to see me, if they don’t feel the need to say thank you when it’s time to give thanks, should I retaliate? No, Barclays thinks, I will not retaliate: I will give them all the money they ask for, all the airline tickets they ask for, because that is what my heart dictates.

Defeated, trembling, Barclays writes to Camelia:

-Love you very much. I’m very proud of you.

Jaime BaylyJaime Bayly

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