Taxidermists

We are a family of collectors. We have diverse interests and collect many things- perfume bottles, magazines from the soviet union, yellow pages for cities that don’t exist anymore. Even seeds. In the summer we often catch fireflies and lost flowers. The flies are pinned up in memories, the flowers in books- so many of them. All for a personal library that began decades ago. Yellow books that’ll never be used, no one can write over flowers and perfumed paper.

So much for memories I guess, but you won’t me writing on those pages either.

Night by the sea

That summer we stayed with her aunt who smelt of cut grass and ghee. We walked the beaches, pretend nomads with face scarfs till a dog rushed out of a patch of wild flowers and begged for a game. Bored cattle strayed past, watching the sea while grazing. That night the sea’s breeze and scent carried through the window. The dog sat happy after the meal we gave him. She put on some music and the dog tried to bark in tune. She danced till her footsteps on the hardwood floor was all I could hear. When I woke up the french windows were open, she had a flower under her foot and a smile on her face.

I’m in pain

My mother always loved her job, even if she was only a housekeeper at the nursing home.

She would take my sister and I there to visit her co-workers or some of the old folk. She had an aunt who lived there too.

The nursing home was painted a drab and faded white. But it was always dark and shadowy despite the huge windows and buzzing lights everywhere. 

Even though I was young I knew this was a place of death. The people were frail and sickly watching reruns all day long. Even the artful wall that bore the names of the deceased seemed foul despite the many attempts to make it a more pleasant monument.

None of this affected my mother who always remained upbeat and spoke about the many reasons why she loved working with the elderly. Maybe that’s why she always took us along with her. We were always there on the weekends and we would have to wait till she finished her lunch and took us to attend mass.

We’d mill about and explore while she ate, ignoring the strong stench of urine that haunted the place. Once when I was six I wandered off while my sister stayed with my mother.

I heard a women shout “I’m in pain” over and over. There was something familiar about the voice. When I asked my mother about it she said the woman would do that every day and we should just ignore it. Later she explained stroke or dementia patients have verbal preservation, or the repetition of certain words or phrases due to the condition. 
When I grew up I started work at the nursing home’s sister institution. I didn’t want to come back home to be honest but I didn’t have many options. I was also curious about my aunt. I couldn’t remember a thing about her except that she had  dementia. 

Family friends would always talk about her as a forceful and determined woman who had a habit of bearing grudges. She grew quite bitter after a car crash severly injured her arms and she was confined to her bed.

I though my conservative relatives weren’t giving a free thinker her due and was curious to learn more about her. Strangely ever since I moved back I would have bizzare dreams of me at her bedside, playing the crule games only children who don’t quite know what pain is yet can. My sister cries in the background while my aunt struggles to say something.

The two facilities were connected so that staff could get around easily. I’d often make trips to the other facilities kitchen. It just so happens that this was the faculty where the shouting lady lived but I didn’t remember at the time.

I though I heard a distant “I’m in pain” echo a few times. I looked around a few times to see where it came from, but all I saw were empty rooms and made beds.

I stopped a nurse and told her I thought I heard something. 

“You did”she replied. “Every now and then the call light will go off and then you hear…”

“I’m in pain”

I realised that the voice sounded very familiar and the dream with my aunt flashed before my eyes. I shook it off and told myself to stop being silly. 

Back at the other facility I was talking to a regular dementia patient I was working with. She still had moments of clarity and enjoyed stories, although she would always remain silent. I told her the story and wondered if it was a ghost.

“I wonder why it doesn’t just grab me” I said as I drew up my chair. I noticed my patient look straight into my eyes.

Without breaking her stare she said “That’s because the woman under your chair has no arms.”

Chronicles Of A Death Foretold

The blurb tells you he will die.

It tells you why and it tells you who does it. So why read what Marques writes? Maybe its the how. Maybe it’s just the desire for a little closure. Why should a story tell you everything anyway?

Back when I was a kid I had a dog, Zoolfy, he was white the untouched parts of a new unruled notebook. I don’t remember much about him, I was six at the time and my father killed him before I got to know him better. What I do remember is a story about him that my family┬árepeats every time that start reminiscing about the pets they had. On seeing one of the many uncles that haunt the family for the first time, Zoofly hopped up on his lap and looked him in the eye. Man and dog stared at each other for sometime,I don’t know how much time but it was enough time for the family to decide that this stare lasted so long, that it was a story meant to be retold. What passed between man and dog on that ruined,decrepit chair?

I don’t know much about Zoofly or what went on his mind or who the uncle was or what he though or why neither of them made a sound. It’s interesting. It happened. People remembered it. It had no plot no great moral lesson. It just happened. It makes you think.

The murder happens. You might like the narrator and the man who is going to die or you may not. It doesn’t matter. You might hate the people who let the killings happen, the people who kill, the man who is killed- it doesn’t matter. Curiosity will keep you going.

Find your own morals and villains if you want to. The death happens weather you like it or not. You like everyone else in the story may never truly know if the wrong man was accused. The truth might never decide to reveal itself. You don’t even know why the narrator lists out all these little stories to you. You can never be sure if that fact that several people could have saved him is important.

Marques takes you for a ride. All you can do is sit back and wonder at everything you hear and everything you don’t.