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The International Writers Magazine: Life Moments

Life After Death
• Namitha Varma
Silence had settled over our house, ready to get into its pajamas and go to sleep.

birds awakened

Even grandpa’s usually raspy breath was in hibernation. The stillness was unbearable. My mother wiped off with the back of her hand the tears that refused to stop streaming from her eyes. She had sunk into the resting chair on the porch like a rag left to dry in the sun.

Grandpa lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling fan, trying to catch every rotation of the blades. His crumpled body shimmered spectre-like in the evening sun. The only thing that told me he was still alive was his blinking eyes.

My sister had sobbed herself to sleep. Tears were caked on to her face, mixed with kohl and talcum powder, giving her a ghastly look – something like the figure of the girl out of The Ring. Her sixteen-year-old form heaved as she struggled through restive nightmares, her eyelids dancing in agitation.

I glided noiselessly through the house, inhaling my father’s memories from each room. I ran my fingers along the faded surface of the garish red-and-yellow floral wallpaper he put in his bedroom when it was in fashion forty years ago, and felt the excitement of his small dreams. I watched his joy as he hugged my three-year-old sister and twelve-year-old me, beaming at the photographer. The books he’d bought for me seven years ago lay solemnly on my bookshelf. I picked one up and heard him tell me how I had the talent for teaching. It seemed quite silly at the time and I’d fought with him demanding that I be allowed to prepare for engineering entrances. But he was always right.

I walked out of the house into the even quieter lane outside. I stood under the banyan and screamed as loudly as I could, shattering the silence into a thousand pieces. A flutter of wings told me I’d scared some pigeons off the farm. Mother ran out to check on me and wailed at my silhouette – I’ve been told I look quite like my father. My sister, startled out of her sleep, joined my mother at the gate, sobbing wildly. My grandfather’s pleas to be told what happened fell on deaf ears. I walked back the trail and hugged my mother, looking into her eyes and begging her to understand.

She wiped off her tears, and we walked back into the house hand-in-hand, in a lame attempt to retrieve the sense of family.
© Namitha Varma-Rajesh March 2015
varmanamitha at

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