Me, shivering and sitting on my hands, clenching my butt cheecks together, and staring past my grandma, who smiles at me, towards the window. There is a storm outside and I’m watching the dark clouds and the lightning and the rain hammering against the window and I would rather be outside.
Grandma smiles. She says „It’s okay, we can call the police soon.“ When she finishes speaking her lips are just flat, dry, gray pancakes pressed on one another and I look away from her, back down to the wet, black, moving mass on the ground.
A heap of dirty laundry, but moving every few seconds.
I was 3 when dad went to the shelter with me. Some of it I remember, some of it he told me afterwards. Dad tried to get me to pick a cat, but I walked right by the cats towards the dogs. Some were pushing against the metal bars, others just sat in the corners of their kennels and then there was that dog, some pitbull breed, and I put my hand through the metal bars and before dad could pull me away the dog had his head pressed against my hand and I must have giggled like rarely before or after.
We were watching TV. I remember it was a Christmas special, two Indiana Jones movies and then something only for the adults. Lisa didn’t like Indy and the Nazis and when the screen turned black she laughed, at first.
Dad looked for a torch to go downstairs into the pitch-black basement. Mom found candles somewhere and put them up on the dinner table, but every time she turned around they went out again. Lisa and I just huddled on the couch and watched the snow outside.
Dad found the torch. He went downstairs, guided by that strangely round light of the torch. A flickering light.
“This thing is broken,” he said, while taking careful steps with every flicker.
“They forced you?”
“No,” she said. “They just chose him for me.”
“But you said Yes?”
Her lips stretched into a shy smile.
“It was the right thing to do. It is my culture, you know?”
“Oh,” I said.
“If it’s my culture it must be a good thing, doesn’t it?”
“It could be,” I said. “It just seems strange to me.”
Saraswati pushed her lightly curled black hair behind her ear.
“It’s strange to me too. I’m not really connected to this culture anymore, but I wanted to make my parents happy.”
“And that is more important than your own life?” Continue reading →
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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 →