It began with a dreadful family dinner, it was the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last. I think of yesterday and how it began –
The violent winds that shake the big trees outside so vigorously, somehow manage to shake my insides today too. A sense of doom hangs ominously all around the house today.
The anticipation of seeing my family after almost a year has now culminated into a sense of dread originating from unknown sources. I don’t quite understand the reason behind me feeling uneasy.
I pick up the key from under the potted plant and let myself in.I am greeted with nothing but a cold breeze, blowing violently on my face. Given that I had received an urgent call from Mother to fly in as soon as possible, I expected the house to be full. I yell for Mother, Father, John everyone. Silence.
I walk into the sitting room. Our house is like one of those big houses they show in movies. The one with dozens of rooms and bathrooms, long stretching dining room with seating for fourteen (We have a big family) and a large sitting room with rather dusty furniture that was once cozy. Usually the house is bursting with energy of my five nephews and nieces, not today.
I am startled by a tap on my shoulder. I scream out in surprise and turn around, only to find my Mother, smiling my favorite smile. Her eyes the deepest shade of black and her skin, wrinkled heavily but still showing traces of the beauty she once boasted of.
I hug her tightly and ask about everyone else.
‘Ah, the family. I can’t wait for you to meet everybody. But first, I must tell you the reason I called you so hastily.’ she almost whispers.
‘Mom, what’s wrong? I am starting to freak out.’ I mutter.
She takes me by the hand and makes me sit on the dusty couch, still holding my palm in hers.
‘Do you remember the day that picture was taken?’ she says pointing towards a dusty photograph of our family hanging above the staircase taken last year before I left. All smiles. Mom & Dad, John and Karen, Lilly and Stephen, Grandma & grandpa, my five little nephews and nieces and myself.
‘Do you remember how happy everyone was that day?’ her voice brings me back from my reverie.
‘Yes Mother, I do. What’s wrong? Is everyone okay?’ I am worried by now.
‘Oh yes dear. There were troubles, big ones. But I handled it all perfectly. There was a lot of nonsense, name calling and melodrama going on in the house after you left, but I took care of everything.’ she reassured.
‘What sort of drama?’ I ask perplexed.
‘Oh nothing big. Just these idiot doctors. They declared grandpa dead one day, wrongly of course, and your grandma, oh you know how she gets. She missed him terribly.We had to do something.’
‘What?! Grandpa died? No called me!Mother, what is going on?’ I am in tears by now.
‘Wrongly declared Sam. Wrongly.He is fine. He is in the dining room right now.’ she smiles warmly.
‘Wrongly? What do you mean?’ I am panicking now.
‘Well, since grandma missed him so much and your father wouldn’t do anything about it, I took matters in my own hands and went to the graveyard one day and found him just lying there wide awake in the mud, asking to be let out. So I dug him out and brought him home.He was fine. Just tired.’ She replied cheerfully.
‘What? Where is everyone? What are you talking about?’ my heart has practically stopped beating by this point.
‘Everyone is in the dining room Sam. Why are you acting weird? This is exactly how your sister-in-law acted when she saw grandpa.It’s like she didn’t believe me that he was alive. She just stood there yelling, calling me names and asking John to leave with the twins and the girl. ‘ Mom is practically shaking with anger by this point recollecting that day.
‘What did she do then Mother?’ I don’t know what to say, so I play along. Too afraid to break free of her hold on my hands.
‘Well nothing. I tried reasoning with her. But she kept calling me crazy. And was about to storm out of the house, witht the kids, break this family! So I put her to sleep with a little pat on the head from the shovel. Then your father and John locked me in my room God knows why. I agree it was nasty business with Karen, but she would wake up soon. I knew. So I sneaked out somehow and slowly put everyone to sleep. Your father and brother with the gun in your father’s drawer. Don’t worry, I removed the bullet from their heads later. They are fine now. Grandmother just fell asleep on her own seeing this. The kids, they wouldn’t stop running screaming, so I just put them in the bathtub for sometime. ‘ she sighed.
‘Where are they now Mom?’ my nerves are pulsing, my body is cold and I can barely speak.
‘Come with me, they are all waiting for you. I have decided we will all live together now. I haven’t yet spoken to your sister’s family, but soon I shall call them too.No arguments Sam okay? Don’t leave your poor mother again. I spent all my life trying to hold this family together. Everyone. No one can take it away from me.’
I follow her into the dining room.
I want to rip my eyes out after what I see. The room stinks of death.
Everyone’s dead bodies on the chair. Dried blood, rotting, stinking, just sitting there. Their half decayed bodies in fancy clothes. My grandma and grandpa have their hands sewn together, as do my brother and sister-in-law. The kids are all dressed in pretty clothes and have dolls in their hands.A hot plate of food is lying untouched in front of them. There are worms from their body just crawling everywhere.
Mother asks me to sit and have dinner.Serving happily.
‘We shall all be together. It will be like this forever.’ She smiles happily.
I am trapped. How will I ever get out alive?
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