Boat on land (by Malicia)
Menopause is a horrible reminder of a bumpy ride and waterless boat ride.
Stone covered hall, with cathedral ceiling and oversized arched door.
Its newly varnished maple wood table, crystal wine glasses and star like chandelier.
All a reminiscent of a castle or old church nonetheless.
It is all part of a grand lavish semblance,
so even the mediocre served here would be deemed supreme.
He had it all. Big dinners and frequent travels around the globe. His home was the envy of many, particularly his kitchen. In there many good memories were made. His obliging wife worked tirelessly to please every weary traveller that paid him a visit. He would entertain these guests with his huge selection of wines and liquors. He was no wine connoisseur but he took great pride in the knowledge he knew about the finer things in life. Mind you, he couldn’t afford the more extravagant aspects of this glamorous and luxurious life but he knew about it. Simply because from a young age he was a ferocious reader. Reading was always an escape while struggling in poverty. You see he worked hard to escape the life of a labourer of which his father was. He sloughed and he excelled in school to forge a nice providing job in the government. Like all governments, their servants make up the majority of the middle class and he was contended with his life in this class.
The partnership between him and his wife was instantaneous from the beginning itself when he courted her as a very young dashing officer and she a young naive nurse. How they met would be for another time. The age was for the romantic and at that time feminism had just sprouted from its very little seed decades back. So it wasn’t atypical for the partner of a fairer sex to be the one that was more obliging. She had fierceness in her and many called her cili padi but this all wilted away as they slowly fell for one another. Her mother had always chastised her for not learning the skills required to be an obedient housewife because it was expected of her and her culture but when he proposed for her hand in marriage, she slipped into the role of an obedient housewife as easily as a silk glove into the hand of a virgin damsel. The reason for her fierceness and penchant to not turn out like her mother, who was the ever sacrificing wife and doting mother, was because her father was a chronic gambler and alcoholic. He would waste away his weekly earnings on a game of mahjong and return home only to take away all her mother’s earnings too. Leaving them hungry for days and only white rice as their supper.
And so the dashing officer and his loving housewife built a warm cozy nest in a small town not to distanced away from their families. This wasn’t hard because they both came from big families each with siblings as many as the fingers on your left hand. They rejoiced at the opportunity to start off a life borne from their imagination and his reading to live the life of a chic modern more western family. They pictured white picket fence, classical music in the background, the cling and clang of silverware and the taste of red wine at the dining table instead of the chatter of chopsticks.
They began, like every other young newly married couple, in the most frugal of manners. Life was good but they were not released off the burden of their families. The shackles of poverty were not removed entirely just yet. The western lifestyle that they had envisioned took a while to materialise but they assured themselves that they would always get a taste of it. His stature grew as the officer in the small town and his circles in society grew as well. Quite a few from these circles shared the dream, laughed at the same jokes and cried at the same misfortune of another. These, surely enough, became the clique that the officer and his housewife soon began to play host in their new warm nest. This was the lifestyle that he and his housewife forged in their partnership. The friends came and went but they played host no matter over the next four decades.
Both of their siblings soon led their own lives and charted their own futures as they matured. This certainly helped with the couple and their dream for this picket fence home. One of her sisters though, struggled to find a footing. This sister of hers didn’t have big dreams nor desires. She was not entirely distraught with the taught that her life wouldn’t amount to anything, moving slowly in life like a light pebble in a stream. May visited the white picket fence home often and always admired her sister and the life she lead. May’s admiration was entirely sincere, even ecstatic at times because she could be part of it during her visits. But over time, a longing gave rise to a pang of jealousy.
Waking up to an empty bed.
I’ve done it numerous times when one of us was sick or when you were away on a business trip.
Sitting next to an empty chair at dinner.
I’ve done it a dozen times when you were caught up with an important client in the office or out entertaining vendors.
Driving alone to the doctor with a sick child.
I’ve done it a couple of times but always had you listening into our conversation at the doctor’s.
Watching television alone.
I’ve done it on many occasions because you were stuck in a conference call or had long day and needed to hit the bed early.
I have done many things without you by my side just as you have done it without me. We didn’t mind it because we knew it was temporary and there was no way to avoid it.
It only made us stronger because it gave us an opportunity to miss each other’s company.
But it isn’t the same as waking up to an empty bed a day after your funeral. Knowing your spot at the dining table will forever be vacant. Not being able to speak to you to ease my panic when I’m at the doctor’s with our sick baby. No more warm hugs on our L-shape sofa while watching television. It just isn’t the same.
‘Knock, knock, knock’. My knees shook and my heart was pounding when I opened the door. How could this be? She is dead, she is gone. There is no part of her physical being left. She cannot be the undead because there is nothing of her left when we washed her ashes along with some ritualistic mumbo jumbo at the Gengi River.
I know it is the 31st of October, the day we celebrate the dead but this just cannot be. I had to pinch myself to make sure I was not dreaming. The pain assured me I wasn’t. So now came the big test, I had to pinch the person standing at my doorsteps to make sure she wasn’t a fragment of my imagination.
“Ouch!” she screamed. “What the hell is wrong with you!?” she glared.
In 28 days and 12 hours she had transformed herself like a witch. Dressed in clothes that were given to her just weeks ago, she had completely made herself to look exactly like her sister who had just died 30 days ago.
She stood there, with a bag of clothes in one hand and some food in the other. She welcomed herself into the house and went about placing her belongings like this was her place. She was no longer the sad aunt who bawled her eyes out at her sister’s funeral, this was a woman with a purpose.
A purpose of possessing what had been left behind by her sister. It didn’t matter if she was about to break so many rules, she had her mind set on winning at any cost.
No one could say what magic she had worked but the house in which she was a mere guest had suddenly become her slave. Enslaving everyone and everything in it. Like poison ivy, she was slowly killing the life of the house.
We knew it was wrong. We would congregate and speak vehemently about it but no one was able to voice it out. We were grieving over the loss of a dear mother, sister and wife. It was a delicate situation that needed time and proper planning before execution but all that seems futile now.
Now that she has completely transformed herself, there is nothing we can do about it but wait for a greater power to release everyone and everything in that house from her spell. Until then we shall watch the drama unfold itself, layer by layer as she sheds her skin revealing a little of her true self every time someone dare cross her.