Trigger warning: Suicidal and Hopelessness.
is she doing?” The nurses spoke,
“I don't know, she’s been staring outside the window for almost two hours now.”
“That’s creepy. It's dark out there, should we carry her to bed?”
“No, let’s not do anything, she had a tantrum this morning.”
“Yup, let her do whatever she wants, as long as she stayed calm.” He replied.
I wonder, is she calm or just expressionless? For being almost 80 years old, widowed, and childless, stranded in the house full of elderly. Each one of them carries their memories of life although most of them are independent in finding their entertainments. She, however, is one of those people that let years of what they have left, consumed by time just to gaze into the void of their thinking. Well, nobody knows what they are thinking, it is quite lonely up here.
Will she be calm here? How about mentally? Oh yes, she had behaved since she had cried so much already, so many things have lost, turned to dust. She keeps staring into the dark abyss through the window. The midnight welcomes her like no others, and no one forces her to bed yet. Hence, she let herself fall again into the abyss of her thoughts.
It is a very well-remembered event; she had drove to the neighborhood’s gathering. She had met her friends and laughed and gossiped, unforeseen what will be becoming of her in the next moment. She remembers exactly her daughter’s face before she left. Nora was smiling, what a beautiful 23-year-old. They both carried similar, brown-colored eyes that matched their yellowish-langsat skin tone. All the beauty of her mother descended to her. Her mother who had went to the gathering that day. Oh why did she go, why God did you allowed her to go, she should have stayed with them, and God, universe, or whatever up there watching did not even gave a sign.
Nora looked her mother’s back from the veranda, safely getting away from the house. She sighed,
“I thought we gonna do some baking together, I guess it's just me
She went back into the house but stop to stand in front of the door, she stared at the living room, jumping her gaze from one object inside the house onto another. Some old sets of furniture, old vases, old hockey sticks, and more old magazines piling up at the corner. All were abandoned. Nora sigh again, ‘I thought, I’ve spoken to Mama and Papa. They should’ve asked brother to buy them new items!’ She irked even more remembering her pampered older brother who had left them.
“Now that he is married, he left all his stuff here in the house!”
Nora felt frustrated that her brother just disappeared, she was even more agitated when he doesn’t help around with their family.
“Mama should have requested new furniture and more. Some days, these chairs will be the death of me as they will eventually break! Well, I could’ve bought new sets of furniture! They just don't want to throw old things away.”
Nora angered out her thoughts, she felt irritated whenever she thought about her parent's attitude on not throwing old things especially those belonged to her brother. The reason being was, they were packed with their sentimental values. Have they even thought about her? She wants new things for her sentimental values too.
It is funny isn't it, old people’s relationship with items of values. They hardly throw stuff away! Why would they keep them. Sometime Nora just had enough, but as much as she wanted, she cannot leave this house, she cannot leave her parents. Nevertheless, Nora never really vented these thinking out loud to her parents. She still respected their needs.
Since her brother got married, he had never gone back home. ‘His old radio is still here. I guess, Mama and Papa needed some assurance, that there is a bit of him still in this house.’
Something to be felt, something she could feel.
Although her brother sometimes did call them asking about their wellbeing she still felt it was not enough, ‘Ugh, as if he cared! He never comes back! Gosh, why is it so hard to fly back home and visit your parents?’
Don’t get it wrong, Nora longed for her brother and his family. They were indeed gorgeous. She had also missed her sister in-law who she was closed with her before they got married. But still, at times, she felt the heartache. Their parents now at the golden age of 70-year-old why would her abandoned them? Their parents had raised both of them with love and care. Their mother even quit her job just to raise them while their father went to work. A little unfair isn't it? “It’s the sacrifice, a mother’s ‘fair’ share, a deed in marriage”- Society says.
But what went wrong? Her parents had always adored him more, but why he had not shown his face? Nora does not recall if her father had argued with her brother or anything. If only he could tell her why. They were close, but he stopped connecting with her.
Nora kept staring on the items in their house. Everything was indeed magnificent, it held so many memories since their grandmother ages. Nora thought she wanted to repaint the house, imagine redecorating it with wonderful memories! She could buy new items and other stuff. But she, who only just graduated, was still so young. To become independent of her income is far from possible in the nearest future. Thus, she had a little unstable financial situation to realizing her dream. But what they had then was enough to support them, for that she is grateful.
Nora’s thoughts went ahead of her. ‘This is a beautiful house, I wished I could replace the old things.’ She touched the old vase that has been siding on the wall for years. This vase was also touched by her grandfather, ‘even I wouldn’t want to throw it away’. She continued to touch the old table and muttered, ‘This, however, is old!’ She wanted to replace it, but her father would end up saying, ‘we can repair it.’ And it led Nora confused, was he trying to save up? Or was he just wanted the table to be there visible to his eyes for comfort? She left the questions unsolved.
Old people had lived their life. In the house they reside, the old things are the evidence of their existence, the bits of their emotions and feelings that are placed so willingly in solid items. So it could be felt later by the rough hands that had lived long to reminisce the past.
Nora smiled. Oh, her parent's antics! Well, she’s happy if they are. Hence, she rarely brought the old things as a topic of their evening discussion. Her thoughts were running ahead of her again. It made her forgot that it was time for lunch. As she realized, quickly, she prepared for lunch and called her father for it.
Not long after, from afar, the mother who was so busy chatting with the neighbor was stopped so suddenly by the call of her neighbor’s son. After hearing him so clearly, she immediately rushed back to her home. Oh, ‘home’, how I have missed this word of comfort.
She clutches her hand as if she is clutching her heart; ‘Oh god, please have mercy.’
It was a distraught moment, a monstrous blazing view accompanied by dark smoke arisen from the burning woods. Standing in front of this huge fire, her eyes frantically looking for her husband and daughter but to no avail. There was nothing but a void of fire producing concentrated dark smoke. She screamed in disbelieve as she saw her world collapsed in front of her- Nora and her husband
had died in the hands of carbon monoxide and burns.
All the things have gone. The officer told her, the fire was caused by a short circuit, the fire spark was so near with a books pile causing more chains of fire to hurl towards the entire house.
She crawled, she bawled, she poured her madness out. She blamed every existence in the world and defiled her belief in religion for not hearing her prayers. She felt betrayed by Him and all the world’s wonders.
Since then, she had lost it and never stopped thinking. The realization she had when she already lost the grip of her mind was ignored. Oh, who in their right mind would care anything about being SANE on times like this. She should have better. She who is a nice woman, wonderful mother, and devoted wife. Supposedly deserve better in life. There is hate in this world, but it could never be directed to her. It made people wonder why had the Angles and God hated her? Is it hate? Is it karma? Is it a test? What she had was too much for it to be the ‘Challenge in Life’. For that, she had given up all her remaining years, blessed with good health, but she rebels against it by letting herself deteriorate.
Her eyebrows knotted, thinking of the world. Ah, so many wonderful things. As she stared at the window, she noticed outside that there is a plant who has been accompanying her gaze all these years. The green tree was sitting in the dark-it was a Palm tree that evoked an old memory. Somewhere from her past, the same Palm tree was sitting right at the entrance of her favorite restaurant. Though they are not identical and not as tall, the one in her past was only for side decoration. The Palm tree had become the main theme of the restaurant, it was quite attractive and gave out some tropical aura. Her husband always ridiculed the plants saying it tickles if the leaves brushing his hand. He always argued that they put way too many Palm tree decorations, but still, the restaurant remained being his favorite.
She smiled remembering going out for a dinner at this restaurant with her husband. They saw a bright little boy with his family next to their table holding his blue teddy bear. ‘So lovely’ She thought, but her husband who at the time was her fiancé, said,
it's rude to stare.”
“Oh please-” She shifted her gaze back to him and asked,
“Love, how many children do you want?”
He smirked at her, “We weren't even married yet!”
“Yeah, but I want to know. I am the one who will carry your child, after all, if you are about to request too many, it’s never too late to back away.”
She winked, drinking her mango juice, leaving a hint of a coral-red lipstick on the glass lip. Her husband laughed. It was a wonderful evening; they went to a movie after that, and he sent her home before midnight. After a lot of thinking, he said that they should get around three to four children.
Unfortunately, after having Nora, she had a miscarriage. It was a son and should have been the second son in the family. Her husband thought no more of having a child for it was too breaking for them. It was even more breaking, seeing his wife cried until the edge of the night, thinking about their unborn son. That memory brought to him suddenly on one night when he received some news.
It was a cold day and a chilling night. An obvious sign but one can brush it off for tragedy could rarely happen. But tragedy could be so near but still, no one could ever tell. His oldest son had been married to a wonderful girl! The couple went on a honeymoon to a beautiful island with a beautiful community, but unfortunately not all humans have a beautiful heart. This father who had lost a son once was about to lose another. He was waiting for his son to call him when they had arrived. But all he received was a call from the local officer, saying, his son was robbed. His son tried to defend his wife and it was unknown that the robber had a gun. The thief shot both of them in their vital organs. He had no words to reply to the officer.
To lose a child.
To watch them die.
A sorrow to a father, a trauma for a mother.
And to Nora, she had never recovered from it. The guilt crawled on her father as he looked his daughter slowly went into insanity, feeling that he had failed as a father. Nora denied everything and believe nothing. She created her own ‘reality’ and believe that her brother just could not get back home and was still alive. Everything was breaking. One thing about toxic masculinity is, men as a father, were expected to be strong and reliable and cannot be seen weak or helpless. But he admitted of growing weak day by day and could only manage to cloak himself with a plain, dull, and expressionless face. Hoping people, including his wife to think that he was strong for them. Who was he kidding? No one was strong. Both of them was trying desperately to be strong for the only child they had left. And of course, desperately for each other’s strength.
The Palm tree seems to be waving its long narrow leaves at her. It played along with the wind, and they dance controlled like puppeteers. The old lady was inside her thoughts still and becoming drown in in it. She had lived a wondrously beautiful life and now she longed for her children. Very much. And her daughter’s laughter and arguments, she wants to hear them again, to hold her children. To feel the warmth beneath their skin. One thing she longed for the most were her husband kisses on her forehead which were full of warmth and sincerity. Everything was perfect in her eyes, but heaven was not fair.
She looks up above the sky filled with stars. She wants to reunite with her family terribly. She wanted to take her life away but committing suicide was not a choice. Not in her religion. Not in any religion, you see.
A strain of curses had poisoned her life. To have lived until 25, met her husband, and had their son at 27, a daughter long after. Although she had a miscarriage, she was cured soon with the company of her family. But not until she reached 60-year-old everything started to crumble pieces by pieces until no one was there to heal with her.
This is the reality, but she could not bear the burden of tragedy without her family. Life had taken her to the path where poor souls went and lost only able to live in daydream. She had always daydreamed to have held her grandchildren, to hold her grandson up for him to touch his father's old radio on the display cabinet. And told him, that it belonged to his father once and told him the history of it like a grandmother would do. She had always daydreamed to re-paint their house and filled it with new items, new sets of furniture. So that the whole family could watch movies together in comfort. Laughed together, cried together, enjoy every moment of life together. It is all she ever wants. It was all she ever wanted.
Now she is desperate. She wants it so bad, that every night like this, she could only talk to the stars though the window, wishing on them one by one, waiting for the right star to make the wishing happens. She does not want the stare full of sympathy, the look of understanding, the nod of agreement saying that they understand what she had been through, they could never. They could never ever understand. Ever.
People live a different life. For what she felt, can never be understood by you. And she can never understand yours. There is something unfair to the statement “I understand what you have been going through”. To some people, it lifted one’s emotion. Well, not to her, it pushed the desperation inside to lash out even more.
She needs the warm embrace of her family so desperately that one can only able to sympathize at her because no one could provide her needs.
‘Well? It was too long for her.’ There was a voice outside the window.
‘It was too long for her indeed.’ The other replied.
‘Then, it is time. No more torturing her.’
The Palm green tree by the old people’s house was actually waving at her. It was a goodbye. She looks down, scrutinizing the wrinkles of her hands. The evidence that her wishes were never granted. Do you know how it feels like to be desperate to die? Where your heart was ripped over and over, the emotion of waiting for the wish to come true drives you to madness?
Then a sudden knock heard from the window. Oh dear, looked at that. She smiled.
The nurses who stared at her started to gossip again.
“Now what is she smiling for?”
“I don't know, is she smiling though? I couldn't see from here” Her colleague said.
“Look carefully! I have never seen her smiled before, and that happily?”
Oh, what do they know. I smiled to my heart’s content, for tonight I had finally wished on the right star. The star that I wished on had made it happen. An endearing wish; to take me away from this island of thoughts. The hand of death had finally appeared, it was a transparent hand that passes through the solid window, ready to take me away. It is the warmth that I have been waiting for, thank you.