(This story has actually being written in a novel format. You can read an excerpt of the novel under the last category on the right. I have just compressed it to make a short story out of it.)
It was the last hour of his life. He was soon going to die at a very young age of 14 and as of that moment, he had no idea about it as he slowly pushed the gate of the Muslim cemetery open and walked down the path with weary steps, his hands clutching one single rose.
He looked much older for his age, tall, lean, athletic and with a charming face with a faint trace of moustache. He somewhat resembled his late grandfather. Maybe it was the case of heredity. And like his late grandfather he too attracted attention wherever he went.
And maybe that was one reason why his neighbourhood Aunty had seduced him. She was the lone person who never forgot to smile at him whenever they passed each other on the street. She was about her mother’s age and had been her good friend when his mother was alive.
He often had secret rendezvous with his neighbourhood aunty since he had matured enough. But today he felt ashamed of it as he walked to the extreme end of the small graveyard.
He felt ashamed to be there with such an unclean thought in his mind, ashamed to face her mother’s grave, knowing that he had an illicit relationship with a woman twice his age and the one who had been his mother’s best friend.
A woman who stood by him through thick and thin, who held his sanity intact over the years and even after his mother’s death. As he walked past the graves, he slowly scanned each grave lazily till he came to an unmarked grave surrounded by simple whitewashed brick stones now stained with mud. He bent down and slowly placed the flower at one end. He then extracted the skullcap from his pocket and put it on his head.
Standing straight, his head bent down with his arms crossed across his chest and with his eyes closed, he slowly muttered the prayer for the dead as best as he could remember.
While he prayed, tears flow down his face as he remembered his mother’s dying days. He ended the prayer and after a few silent moments, slowly opened his eyes. He stood still and stared hard at his mother’s grave, his arms still folded across his chest.
The tears had dried up. He unfolded his hands and with his back of his right hand, wiped the rest of the traces of the teardrops away from his cheek. He then sat down on the ground, pulled his knees closer to his chest and with his hands wound around it, buried his head in between his knees.
He started to rock back and forth humming her mother’s favourite lullaby she used to sing for him when he was a kid, “Sleep of sleep my child, to thee I cry. You are my angel. You are my butterfly”
It was exactly a year ago that his mother had died. She was just 30 when she had died of some disease, a disease so horrifying in the last hours of her death. Yet she had led her life fighting more than one disease. There were a whole lot of other diseases of this world and the worst of it was him, her own son.
And today, he felt sorry for her and for himself, sorry for giving her a troubled and unhappy life. He missed the warmth of her love she showered on him sporadically, her fighting spirit, her frequent outbursts, the tender look on her face in her dying hours. He was totally in contrast to her character.
How he wondered if he could get some of her characteristics in him. His thoughts went back to his early childhood days. He remembered the troubled relationship he had shared with his mother and with the world around him and he wondered aloud why everyone hated him so much? Where had it all started? And why did everyone give him strange looks and treated him like roadside filth? Why, he wondered aloud. Why?
He then remembered the sealed envelope that was stuck in his pocket. He pulled it out. His name was sparsely scrawled on it in his mother’s handwriting. As she lay on her deathbed, she had handed over the envelope to him.
‘This is something that could break you or mould you to be a tough person. You have reached an age where you are old enough to think. But at this stage when death is waiting for me, I want you to wait till you grow a year older.’. She took a deep breath.
‘I don’t want my impending death and the content of this envelope to hit your innocent soul collectively. Cause this envelope answers the question of your existence� of your coming into this world of all your uncertainties the reason for your troubled childhood.’
She paused. She was having difficult breathing. Her life was sinking fast.
‘Son’ Her voice trembled softly.
And he quickly looked up at her. Her eyes were moist. This was the first time he remembered since he had come of age that her mother had called him ‘son’. Tears flowed down his cheek. He quickly sat at the edge of the bed and looked at his mother lovingly as he held on to her hand. Her eyes were glued to his face. A lone tear flowed out of the corner of her eye and then time stood still for her.
With trembling hand, he opened the envelope. There was a single sheet of paper. He pulled it out. There was a single line written on it.
‘You are my father’s son!’
His voice quavered as he read out the line aloud. And then the headline of a newspaper clipping he had found hidden in his house, flashed in front of his eyes, ‘Father molests minor daughter.’
He had the answer to his existence. He had the reason for his destruction.