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The Bookshelf


He is in the living room, sitting on the kitchen chair. He rises from the chair slowly, grasps his walking stick with his right hand. Using it for support, he walks towards the bedroom. At the door of the bedroom, he moves the curtain aside with his left hand and walks towards the bed. He turns to face away from it, then carefully sits down. He places the walking stick towards the head of the bed, between the bed, and the small plastic stool where he keeps his book, by the window. He picks up the pillow, fluffs it up, and places it on the bed again he looks around the room, seeing the view she saw for a few years before she died. The bookcase directly in front of the bed, which she could look at when she was lying down. Where she had placed numerous objects. Photographs of their son and their daughter, statuettes of various gods, curios. A small brass vase. A bottle of Nivea lotion. Some medicines. How many hours she spent lying in this bed, he thought, looking at all this. These objects that represented the people she loved. The items she used in her daily life. She walks into the room and sits on the bed. It is her father's room now. He sleeps on the bed. She remembers when she had slept in it that afternoon, after her mother's cremation. She was the first person to lie there since her mother had slept there before she was taken to the hospital. She had been exhausted from the devastating loss, from the travel, from the emotion. In her deep slumber, there had been a vivid dream. Her mother was up in the corner of the room, by the ceiling, her face contorted in anger, frustration, in a silent scream. She had just died, and yet, there she was. The anger! Was it at her helplessness, her physical ailments and limitations that had confined her to her bed? Rendered her unable to go out of the house, to visit anyone? Was that the silence she had to endure, she who loved to converse, to laugh? She not been ready to die. The daughter looked at the bookshelf directly across from the bed and saw the objects her mother had placed there. There on the middle shelf, towards the left, a photo of her, the daughter, from so many years ago. Amidst the frustration her mother must have felt, how much love had been in her heart.


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