My Father, the Professor

By ulogan

This is part of a story that I'm working on at the moment...

"Professor, I had a question about the principle of virtual work..."

And just like that, she was taken back to another place, another time, 1,826 days before, when a similar thought had been voiced by another man.


"Do you know what the principle of virtual work is?" Her father met her gaze in the mirror as he absently fixed his tie. He cut an elegant figure as always, dressed in a white dress shirt and tailored black trousers. The red silk length of his tie contrasted vividly against the white, glowing like an uncut ruby. Or like fresh blood.

She shifted uncomfortably under his scrutiny and mentally groaned. Although she loved him dearly, those dark, penetrating eyes of his saw entirely too much. They blazed with fierce intelligence in his fine-boned face, analyzing everything, missing nothing. There would be no fooling him.

The silence stretched on for a minute, then two.

"No," she said finally, grudgingly. He turned around, giving her an exasperated glance.

"What do you study? Do you study? No, don't answer that," he said, the glass-cut notes of that peculiar British-French-Indian accent of his coming out. For a moment, she stared blankly at him, not comprehending. There was only noise coming from his moving lips, the ring of glass-cut notes sounding in her mind. And then, the words fell into place as her mind made sense of it all. She gasped loudly, then favored him with an extremely disgruntled look. He in turn favored her with a grin, looking very boyish all of a sudden as he moved to sit next to her on the bed.

"Shove over. And don't make that face, do you want it to freeze that way?" She scowled at him some more, but scooted over on the bedspread obediently. "Sometimes, I really wish you'd actually read your textbook, instead of praying to God to deliver you from physics. Now, see here." He pulled a notebook off the nightstand, flipped it open, and began writing. "The principle of virtual work is a method you can use to analyze any point on any given body. It doesn't matter what the body is. So, if I take this table for example, divide it up into tiny cubes, and then pick a cube to analyze, I can use the principle of virtual work. Now, let's say I want to analyze how YOU behave." Again, that grin flashed at her. "Similarly, I would take you, chop you up into tiny cubes, pick a cube, and analyze you with the principle of virtual work. It's a method. There are three rules to follow..."

And so the lesson began. Never mind the fact that he would be late to an important awards dinner; his daughter needed him. It never occurred to him to leave her.

It also never occurred to him that, one day, he might be forced to.

My Father, the Professor

Created: Aug 01, 2010


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