“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.”
December 16th, 2016
It’s me, James, just James. Today is my birthday, I am 16 now.
It’s been a while. I hope you did not miss me too much. Everyone’s doing well so don’t worry. They threw me a surprise party, brought a vanilla cake, balloons, poppers and mini fireworks; aunt Laura and uncle Ben came too. Lizzy has grown so much in a year that it’s unbelievable and she has a brother- Eric- too now. We all went out, had some pizza and then went bowling. It was a really fun time. You would have loved it but it’s okay; I’ll show you the photos. I hope they turn out good.
Oh, I started high school this fall. I am getting good grades and I exercise daily. I eat my meals on time. I do this part-time job on weekends at Roger’s, the shake guy who was our neighbor, you remember him, right? He was always bringing us free smoothies. He’s a really good lad.
Um, I guess I ran out of stuff to tell you, huh.
“That’s it, you sure?”, you must be wondering that. I cannot blame you, it’s been five years after all and it’s only the second time I came here since…then.
I’m sorry Mom.
I may not have been the best son you wanted, but I walked through it at my own pace. “Take your time, Jamie, you’ll get them”, I remember you kept saying that to me when I couldn’t get my spellings right, so I took my time Mom, I took it.
I hated you, every inch of my body hated you for leaving me all alone in this cruel and dark place. I was jealous of you, despised you; you get to go away and rest in peace but what about me? You did not even think about me and went without a warning! I was just 11, just 11 Mom!
I cried under my blanket, didn’t say a word for days while you were up there having fun with dad. Nights went by, and my eyes ran dry; days passed, and I wouldn’t eat. I was a living corpse. You lied to me, Mom, you lied! You said that the doctors were just jokers in white lab coats and they didn’t know anything. I trusted you, because you were that one person in my life who understood me, who I did not need to justify my every action, you were always there for me to hold me up, push me forward and it all went away in just a beep, in a blink of an eye. I hated you, Mom!
I had to give up everything, the house: it had that orange tree we planted together when I was 5, those height marks on the pink wall, that spaceship you painted for me on the ceiling of my room.
“I’ll take you to the brightest star in my spaceship, mom”, but you chose to do that alone, you traitor. I hated you.
You chose to give up on my birthday. It was my birthday! I did not get a single wish. I cursed myself for being born. I wished day and night, restlessly for God to call me so we could be a family. I’ll finally get to meet dad too, and we’ll have dinners together, play together, laugh together, listen to all those lame jokes you cracked to cheer me up, go and meet the fairies you said were waiting for good people.
Nanna took me to her house, miles away from where we lived. She had to sell everything for money, to take care of me. What about her? She was just an old lady and you left me with her. I pitied her more than she pitied me. I thought of running away daily.
The only light in my life was the dim gray sunlight that managed to escape through the tiny opening between the long old curtains in Nanna’s room.
People, they were the worst of all.
In school, my friends, they had those eyes speaking a million words: ‘poor boy’, ‘helpless guy’, ‘orphan’, ‘doomed’, ‘cursed’. I started getting bullied because I was just a helpless boy. They pushed me down, stole my money, tore my notebooks and beat me up but I did not say a word, I was a helpless guy and an orphan and that ‘was’ true.
People started showing who they were, their hollow covers cracked open. They, my long-gone friends, teachers, all those uncles and aunts, they all had a problem with everything I did, because I was ‘special’, they pitied me apparently but I knew they did not. Why would they care about an orphan like me?
They kept on disagreeing with me, I had no value, I cannot make a valid point since I am a helpless poor guy, what can I know but you know what? That just saved me the trouble of liking them. I liked you Mom, you left me. You liked Dad, he left you. Loving was a curse, everything I loved was snatched away. I wanted people to not like me, to not agree with me, to not understand me, I pledged to never love a person, never like a person. They all go away so I let them be. I hated you, Mom!
…………but I’m sorry.
Four years, I lived with this monster in my heart.
If it wasn’t for that night, I would have been consumed by sheer hatred, would have broken myself beyond any repair or replacement.
Nanna’s health started deteriorating. Aunt Laura started staying with us and I thought I was going to lose another person. I wasn’t sad or happy, I was just normal.
It was a strain on Aunt Laura as she was pregnant with Eric so she decided to send Nanna to an old home but Nanna was one stubborn lady, she did not agree.
Aunt Laura hired a maid to take care of Nanna but she was a kind lady, she and Lizzy still stayed with us.
It was roughly 8 months ago: Nanna had been admitted into a hospital. We kept visiting her, aunty had a baby coming anytime, her due date was just right around the corner.
The day came, aunty went to the same hospital-where Nanna was admitted- to have her baby. Uncle Ben came too, he was the only sibling my divorced aunt had left after all. Soon after she came to the hospital, she started having her contractions and the doctor allowed to have uncle Ben come into the delivery room for her support. For some reason, and God bless that reason, he took me in too.
Aunty was perspiring, running out of breath. The doctor kept saying “push, harder, you can do it!” and she screamed in pain. I could tell Uncle Ben’s hand was hurting because aunty had it clenched so hard but he wasn’t letting go. He kept telling her to breathe. Everyone was shouting and it seemed as if aunt would pass out anytime.
Suddenly, the entire room muted. What broke the silence was a baby’s cry. The doctor held Eric in her hands, cleaned him with a towel. He was so tiny, so red, and so innocent. Eric was crying and aunty was really exhausted and tense. The doctor slowly approached her and placed Eric in her arms. He stopped crying and, in that moment, that very moment, the monster in me died.
Aunt Laura cried and she had such a beautiful smile on her face. It was as if she had seen the heaven itself. Eric made her so happy. Her son made her so happy. Eric, in that moment, was everything she loved, she held dear, and was afraid to lose. Tears trickled down like little pearls on her cheeks.
“Come here, Rose, come here”, she called me by your name, “Come, see him.”
I went closer and I stood in silence, amazed by the beauty of birth, beauty of life itself.
“His eyes remind me of your mother, Jamie, she always had those hopeful little eyes full of love, love for you, you are not an orphan, dear, you are the one who was loved, loved till death by a person, it’s time Jamie, it’s time.”
“Eric”, I said after a while, “can we call him that?”
It’s amazing how one understands the beauty of death by seeing the miracle of birth. I am not an orphan, right Mom? You are just by my side and I know you still are watching over me. I can’t believe you went through that to have me and gave me such love, such warmth, made me so strong, spent your whole life to give me the best one and make me happy.
It’s really amazing how one changes in a moment. People bullied me, pitied me, they disagreed, taunted and mocked me, I did not like them too much but you know what? They don’t like me, that’s their problem. Let them define me however they want to. They don’t know me. They don’t understand me. They only judge. What they should know is that I am loved by a person and many people don’t get to feel that in its true sense, so yay, lucky me.
Thank you, Mom.
I love you.
P.S Nanna’s okay now so don’t worry and she sent you these flowers.
James left the letter and the bouquet on his mother’s grave as he slowly walked away.
“Till next time”, he said as he exited the graveyard.
Contributed By: Ali Muhammad Chishti