Tag Archives: brother

Barnam House

TRIGGER WARNING: Child death; violence; abuse.


Let me tell you a story about a place you know.

You know Barnam House.

Everyone I ever talked to about it, they all knew the Barnam House. Most don’t remember where or when, but they heard talk about it or saw the pictures or watched the documentary. And when I describe it, the large white doors, the high walls, the walls with flaking blue paint and the yard outside, always immaculate except for that one, longish patch of dead plants – then they remember. They see the picture again.

I bet right now you can see it. The old trees slowly moving with the wind, the wind whistling and howling past, and of course that one top window shutter that keeps opening and closing, opening and closing, but not in the same pattern as the trees move or the wind whistles.

The Barnam House. There are different stories about it. Some say the Barnams simply left, from one day to the other. There was something they feared and so they left without ever telling anyone. That’s why, if you look through the shutters and you’re lucky enough to have enough light, you can see that there are still plates on the dinner table. Continue reading

Swim Club

The first time I arrived at the club I could think of nothing but my brother.

Bare walls covered with dirty blue tiles, foldable wooden chairs, a net on top of what used to be a pool. Five men inside.

Not a place you find in the newspapers; a place to which your friend brings you along. A place where you know that whoever is running the show must have a lot of friends and certainly the right friends – because if they don’t the place would long be shut down.

When you have crossed the parking lot the first thing the two large men ask for is your name. They don’t ask for you ID, but they ask for your name and if your name is not on the list then you won’t get in. The list says whether you’ve been there before; the list says whether someone trusted you enough to bring you along the first time. The list also has the name of the friend that brought you along and if you mess up then that friend will have a problem. Continue reading

My Big Brother

When the light disappeared from behind the curtains it didn’t matter whether our parents were next door or not, it was only Ranyo that made me feel safe. He hugged me goodnight and afterwards he lay on the top bunk with his head dangling down the side of the bed. Every night he watched over me until I fell asleep and only then my brother went to sleep himself.

I don’t have many memories from my early childhood – I mean the ages 3 to 6 – but most of them are memories of Ranyo. He showed me how to make paper airplanes, he taught me to count from one to ten, and he was the one that told me about the treasure chests filled with toys in our garage.

I could not have imagined a better brother than Ranyo. He shared everything with me, even the secrets that I was not supposed to know. Once he showed me how to open the gummi bear drawer and afterwards we sat on the top bunk and ate little cola bottles and sweet green and red cherries until I felt sick.

Ranyo went to a different school than I did. He had to leave earlier than me and so I rarely saw him in the morning. But in turn he also finished earlier and nearly every day he stood on our front porch when mom and I arrived home. Only when it rained he hid inside the house, usually on his bunk with a teddy bear or two in his arms. Continue reading