My Narrative of a Relative
| I was shocked. I didn’t understand. I didn’t even know she was sick, and then they, my parents, the ones who are supposed to tell me everything and make sure I don’t get hurt, were telling me that she was gone. “Passed away” is such a bitter term; it gives you that sense of calm, as if she they died in peace, when really, no one who suffers cannot die peacefully. They said she had cancer, something I didn’t really understand at my fragile, young age. Just like I couldn’t understand that that shock I was feeling was actually stemming from that acknowledgement of deceit and constant mendacity that began to consume me.
She was my mother’s sister, my favorite aunt Azza, and now, the third close family member my mother lost. My mother isn’t like most mothers: she doesn’t cry often nor does she show weakness. Her strength rivals a body builder, but she resembles a magician, for she can conceal this strength inside. So, walking into my apartment in Egypt, on our “family vacation”, and seeing her crying stoically instantly stopped my blood in its path. I knew something terrible was going on. I asked her what had happened. She couldn’t respond. I waited impatiently for an answer that would never come. I then turned to my father, though looking pale and morose, he, at least, seemed capable of speech. He explained to me and my sister that my aunt was ‘very ill’. Or at least, she had been. I questioned why they didn’t let me visit her while she was in the hospital. I screamed at them for robbing me of my goodbye. As I grew over the years, I realized that by not telling me of her illness, they were just trying to protect me, making sure I didn’t get hurt.
We solemnly got dressed, and made our way to Azza’s house. Well, it was her house. There I found my cousins, aunts, uncles, and many crying strangers I did not know or recognize. My mother was instantly engulfed in a sea of hugs from every direction, condolences flowing from different mouths in different tongues. I was pushed aside and I soon found myself out on the balcony, with my aunt’s dog, Rita. I’ve always been afraid of dogs, but I found myself connecting with Rita. She knew Azza was gone. She was outside, on the balcony, mourning, not really understanding what was happening, but knowing nothing would be the same again. Just like me.
I don’t remember crying at the funeral. I was confused; I didn’t understand how such a happy person could have been taken away from my life. She wasn’t married nor did she have kids, but she was always glowing with satisfaction from life she led. She babied me, always called me her favorite and hugged me first and longest. My mother would tell me stories about her, and about their childhood. I would bitterly grow to realize that if she was still here, we could have been the best of friends; she would always be understanding and fun, there whenever I needed her.
I remained outside until I fell asleep on the balcony, my exhaustion consuming me. Hours passed, when I woke up, nothing had changed. Late into the night, after almost everyone had left, it was our turn to leave. I could barely keep my eyes open as I trudged my way to the taxi that would take me home and away from the house that held so many of my carefree moments and childish memories, and as the taxi started to drive away, I heard one last mournful howl erupt from Rita’s chest.