A phone call at 2 am is never a good sign, especially if it’s from my sister.
I sat there in the wobbly chair holding my duffel bag. In many ways I am like the chair- weak and undependable. The bag felt so light even though I stuffed all my belongings inside. Can you count four pairs of clothes and two pairs of shoes as belongings? It sounds cheap, even to myself. I laughed loudly and the sarcasm echoed inside the tiny room.
My eyes roamed around trying to make a mental picture of each and every item. The room isn’t big, almost bare if you ignore the old bed, a frail looking chair and a study desk with lots of scratches on it. But it was enough for me to hold so many memories; some good, some bad and some I am not quite sure about.
So which category should my sister’s phone call belong to? Oh it’s definitely bad. If there is a scale to measure how bad it is, I am going to go for a 10.
Sister- “ Ari, were you sleeping?”
Me-“ No, I wasn’t.”
Sister- “ Oh that’s good.”
As if staying awake during the odd hours of the night is entirely normal.
Sister- “ So how is everything with you? We haven’t seen each other for so long.”
She paused, cleared her throat and continued.
“ Hey I am sorry to hear that you broke up with Alex. I should have called you sooner. But you know… Martin’s business and all the financial issues associated with it, and I wasn’t personally in a good space too. ”
She means well. And I appreciate her sympathising with me, but I wished she didn't. I have had enough of that throughout my life.
Hey I am sorry you failed in your exam. Hey I am sorry you lost your job.
And the best one... Hey I am sorry your mom left the house to your sister in the will.
That hurts the most.
I shouldn’t blame anyone except myself. She was there for my mom physically, financially and maybe to some extent, mentally too. I always thought they shared a better mental rapport than me and my mom or me and my sister.
My mom was a wreck after my dad passed away. While I was wallowing in my own sorrows, I never bothered to ask or find out from her about how she was coping up with the loss. She sank so deep into depression. My sister left everything and came to stay with my mom. She made sure that mom got the proper medical attention and the care she needed. What did I do? As always, the easy way out. I took up an assignment in Singapore and ran away. Because I was only worried about myself. Because I thought I needed to get away from everyone , at least for a short while. But I did occasionally call my sister to check on our mom. Ya, that takes away some guilt out of my mind. Not exactly.
Over the course of time, my mom’s mental state did improve; but she never got back to her normal self till she died. And I strongly believe she died of a broken heart. She wasn’t ready to accept the absence of a person whom she knew for more than four decades. Some wounds aren’t meant to be healed. Eventually her heart surrendered.
Soon after she died, I moved back here permanently because my assignment was finished, along with my job . I didn’t have anywhere else to go. So here I am- a jobless twenty seven year old, practically broke and living in my parents’ house, which will soon go to my sister.
My sister and I chatted for some more time, mostly badmouthing my ex boyfriend and how I should sign up in dating sites etc. All good while it lasted.
Coming to the last part of the conversation...
“ So Ami, is everything ok? I am sure you didn’t call me at 2 am to say you are sorry about my break up. I am the weirdo in the family, not you.”
That earned a hearty laugh from her. It’s nice to hear her laughing. She rarely laughs, life hasn’t been easy on her.
“ I did call you to apologise. Not for the breakup, but for what I am going to do now.”
I knew what was coming. An inner voice is telling me to disconnect the call, switch off the phone and go back to bed. Easy way again. But I cannot avoid it forever. Like the aching tooth. You can suppress the pain with pain killers for some time. But one day you will end up in the dental chair. It’s inevitable.
“ Ari, I am sorry. You will have to move out tomorrow morning. I tried to hold them for a few more weeks until you get another place to stay. They want to start the renovations as soon as possible. The new owner is still in London. But he has arranged people to start the work on the house, so it will be ready before Christmas.”
I wanted to yell at her for selling the house where she grew up, to a stranger. But do I have the rights to? No. Do I even have the money to buy it off? No to that too. Do I want to go to court to fight for my share? Absolutely not! My sister needs the money. She would feel a lot relieved when she can finally pay off the bank loans. She was a teacher before , but she quit the job to help her husband out with his restaurant. From what I heard, it wasn’t doing so well and they were struggling to pay the loan installments. My mom knew it too. Maybe she took the right step by giving the house to her instead of me. And she is the one who deserves it, not me. No one will serve you happiness on a platter unless you really do something to deserve it.
I blinked a few times trying to ease the exhaustion from my sleep deprived eyes, which is proven to be a difficult task. I watched the light of dawn seeping into my room, casting tiny shadows on the walls. It’s time.
After leaving the bedroom door open, I went to the kitchen carrying the coffee mug in one hand and the bag in the other. Just then, my bag fell off the shoulder and in my effort to save it, I spilled the leftover coffee onto the carpet! My eyes widened in horror.
A stained carpet- the last thing I want now!
I put the bag on the floor immediately and ran to the sink to grab a rag. I knelt down on the carpet and rubbed hard on the stain. After some vigorous rubbing the stain is gone, but it left an orange tinge on the beige fibre. This will do. I nodded my head half mindedly.
So that’s it. End of the chapter. Until today, I had a place to come back to, to find peace, to reboot my life. Not anymore.
I wish things were different. I wish I had stayed instead of running. Not for inheriting the house. I should have stayed because that was the right thing to do. Maybe it’s a hidden message from my mom that I need to really grow up and be responsible instead of running away. I can’t always run from problems. One day they will hunt me and bring me down to my knees.
I unfolded the paper in my hand and read again. “Looking for a roommate. Female, single.”
Suits me in every way…
I shut the door behind me and locked it. After some hesitation, I left the key under the doormat. I don’t want to stay and wait for the contractor. I won’t be able to stand here listening to them discussing my house as if it’s just a pile of wood and bricks.
Goodbyes were said, tears were shed. Door to my past is closed.
I was walking towards the train station when my phone chimed. A message from my sister, as expected.
” Are you still at home? The contractor is on his way.”
“No. I left. The house is all yours. Key is under the doormat.”
After I replied, I switched off the phone and put it back in the bag.
The chapter of regrets is over. There is a fresh chapter waiting for me somewhere. And it’s time to embrace it and build new memories. Good or bad? I am ready to find out…
Competition: Friendly feedback, Round 1
The reviews for this submission haven't been published yet.