Please Come Home
Please Come Home
Misha wrote to me yesterday. With her coiled handwriting burning the paper, even the most illiterate could understand the desperation hidden behind those smudged letters. I read it, and then, because I have never learnt about self-preservation, I read it again. And again. And...
I sat myself on the kitchen stool, the refrigerator light blinking behind me. It was a perfect night. A bottle of some cheap, off-brand whiskey lay shattered on the porcelain floor where I had dropped it earlier. The radio was playing some black and white Rock band. It drizzled outside, droplets knocking against my window. Inside my heart, I began to feel the beginnings of a blizzard.
"Mama's gone. Please come home."
The words felt like a dagger twisting inside my gut. But at the same time, it felt like a coming of spring after winter. I wished to cry like a little girl, and twirl around in my room in a frock and red shoes. I did not feel misery, all I felt was Emptiness and Freedom fighting for dominance inside my body.
Mama... How shall I begin to describe that woman? She was a force of nature. She was the Goddess of our household, the absolute monarch of our nation, the feudal lord of our serfdom. All I can remember is pulling Misha under the bed with me, hiding from the footsteps, hiding from the stench of beer, hiding from the belt lashes and the disappointments. Too much time was spent into hiding. That's how I remember mama. She controlled the rate of my heartbeat until I grew up and took away her power. But Misha, darling Misha, she still lives in that godforsaken bedroom, amidst the glow in the dark stars we stuck on the ceiling as kids, amidst the Marvel superhero posters and the fairytale novels. Poor Misha still cannot spell her words properly.
"Mama's gone". Was it my fault? I felt like one of those absurd Albert Camus characters about to face the philosophy of life without even realising it. Was I supposed to mourn? Was I supposed to organize a funeral as the eldest daughter? Society and it's expectations never failed to amuse me.
"I cennot do this alonn. Mama's sister is here. Please come home."
Aunty used to braid my hair once upon a time. Back when dad was alive, back when mama was a human. Misha was a tiny thing crawling on her hands and knees. We used to be a picket fence American dream. And then dad left to buy cigarettes and never returned. Misha does not remember any of the long gone paradise days. From the day she understood the concept of human memory, she was met with flying slippers and hungry afternoons. But I remember. And I am yet to let it go.
So I went to the graveyard. Distant relatives stood in front of an open coffin, handkerchiefs pressed against their eyes. The game of pretense had begun. Misha's fingers were clutched around my belt loops, trying to hold on to the last bits of her sanity. Orphans, we were both orphans. Free, I thought in my head, orphans, but free! I stood there as people handed me bouquets, white carnations, some patted my on my back with watery smiles adorning their faces. Those strangers were trying to comfort me. I smiled back deliriously. I think I scared some of them with my indifference. Not a tear was shed by me. Misha cried for her idea of a mother, what a mother was supposed to be, she cried for an unreal conceptual woman who was never alive.
Aunty whispered in my ear all of a sudden, "You know she loved you. She was a hurt woman and she did not know where to store all the heartbreaks. She is dead now. Forgive her." Forgive her... Forgive her? I was not some ancient Creator, I was no Christ or Vishnu or Allah. Forgiveness was not mine to give.
We both dropped upon our childhood matress that night. The stars glowed on the ceiling.
"The sun doesn't glow anymore." For a moment, Misha sounded like a petulant child who was allowed to throw tantrums.
"You are coming with me now. There's no one to stop you. We will buy a new sun, and a new moon, and new stars. You can name our constellations."
"But- but you have work! You cannot spend your time looking after me! I will pull you back, and then I will be just like her." And, atlast, I cried the years of an orphan. They came suddenly, out of nowhere. We both lived with the same fear despite living in different parts of the country. We were both haunted by the same nightmares, the same recklessness. Her fingers twisted the fabric of my shirt. She did not say a thing.
I turned towards her and twisted a stranded curl of her hair in my fingers. "Don't you worry. I will show you how to look after yourself."
She remained silent for awhile. Trust did not come to her easily anymore. "Will you take me to the beach?"
Yes. Yes! A thousand times yes! I would fight in the trenches for her. I would.. I would lay my life down for her. I deserved it all for leaving her in the haunted house with that vengeful spirit trying to tear her apart. I whispered a desperate "yes".
"I still feel like I belong to her."
"How can you belong to her when you belong to me?"