In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘tadhana’ or ‘an invisible force that makes thing happen beyond the control of mortals’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.


The morning sunlight was warm and soothing, it calmed the roiling coffee in Jo’s empty belly as he sat and observed the world. The energy that had filled his every waking moment for the past month seemed strangely absent after the events of the previous day. Instead Jo was filled with calm satisfaction.

“Well, that’s the look of a man who’s achieved something. I’ve worn it myself a time or two,” his father announced, limping onto the patio. “And not underserved, to hear Irene tell last night.”

Jo smiled and felt the smile stretch until it split into a wide grin. He lent back as far as his chair would tilt and took a deep breath, holding the chilled air in his lungs for a moment then expelling it with loud sigh.

“I keep telling myself that we haven’t made it yet, Dad. There’s a lot of clever people out in the world working on it, some of the stuff we saw yesterday was pretty amazing,” he said. “But I can’t help this little bit of hope, it’s like a voice at the back of my head saying that we’ve won, that we’ll breeze through the rest of the heats. Can you imagine? My work might be the first used to speak to life across the universe!”

His father chuckled and sat heavily, wincing a little, and waved for Jo to hand him the coffee.

“You and I, we like to see things to believe them Jo. Science, mathematics; I spent my life depending on the truth of those pillars and I taught you to do the same,” he said, sipping at a steaming mug. “Your mother though, she was a woman of faith, and I have to say that at times like these I tend to think she’d be better placed to help you. She used to tell me that sometimes it was important to just believe; to know that there was something greater than all of us out there. Maybe she was right, not some man up in the clouds right of course, but about a-a wider purpose of some kind, a guiding force?”

The old man fell silent for a moment, staring out over the garden.

“You know,” he continued, “I’ve wondered myself if there’s a reason we’re alive right now. Things lost their shine a bit after your mother died and then all this trouble with my hips and back, but I’ve thought a lot about it all recently. And I think this is it, I think perhaps I believe, a bit, that you and Irene have that greater purpose and I get to live to see it.”

Jo felt strangely comforted by his father’s words and reached to grip his hand tight. He’d been shaped by the hero worship he’d lavished on his father as a child, but as he’d aged he’d come to see a man and later, sometimes, a burden. It had been a guilty thought at times, the worry and frustration of dealing with an aging and infirm parent. But Jo couldn’t imagine a world where he wouldn’t have shared this moment with his father, and maybe that was a higher power, fate, God or whatever people wanted to call it.

“Sometimes Dad, you know just what to say. And I couldn’t have done this without you, you’re as much a part of it as either me or Irene,” Jo said.

His father tightened his grip on Jo’s hand briefly and took another short sip of coffee. It was, Jo thought, a perfect morning.


8 thoughts on “Tadhana

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