A Disturbing Presence
A love/Hate story of a stubborn house and family member.
Every time he enters the gate, I feel a different emotion.
Sometimes, it is indifference toward him, like a breeze of air that disturbs the atmosphere of the room. Other times it is an agitation.
Today, he walks in the door and I freeze momentarily and resume my business.
I feel guilty for not acknowledging his presence. Like a ghost, an invisible man who wants to be seen and heard but cannot. He would try to draw me in by calling out my name, teasing me, flattering me but I am obliged to shut him out. Sometimes, I would break and give a slight smirk or a sudden comment when I cannot hold myself back.
Oftentimes, it is a grudge for having him around. A grudge of his presence; the blaring of his phone, and his condescending voice with arrogant coughs that reminds of his existence.
When he is sick and glued to the bed for an entire day, I cannot help feeling sorry for him. He winces in pain and twists his face, sometimes, other times he is completely knocked out. I would feel guilty again for treating a sick man this way, a man as sick in his body as he is in the mind.
I try to inquire about his health, summon the courage but words do not come out. I have to hover over his bed and try to be of assistance to him. When I do, however, it sounds hoarse and cold, like a botheration.
I offer to make him tea. He agrees with an air of conceit. I gladly prepare it for him.
He feels better now, he had moved from his bed to the dining table, where he sips tea and eats bread and yogurt.
He feels so much better now, he is now eating proper meals, the home-cooked meals again.
My feelings of pity change to annoyance once again. As he is no longer huddled in his blanket in his bed again, but up and about. His phone blaring an old song; a high-pitched and poor-quality sounding tune from around the late eighties.
He is flattered by the attention he gets, tries to lighten the mood with his ridiculous moves and jokes. He is on our nerves now, his hiatus from sickness is not ending, he does not return to work, rather goes about storming the place with his voice and presence.
He is in the best shape, his body is capable of holding him in, as he chomps down the salted, diamond cuts and the crispy rusks.
The next day, he feasts on the sweetmeat from a street-side baker. I try to taste it but just a nibble of the rancid ghee keeps me nauseated for an hour to come.
His explosive diarrhea stinks up the home again, as I hear him moaning in pain from the bathroom. Neglecting diabetes does not bother anyone like his digestive problems do, sleep it off by dozing for hours on end. But your digestive distress is a bother to us, to our sanity, to our standards of cleanliness.
Your greed reminds me of children who grow up in famine. Your greed for beef makes you seem like an abstinent child from a strict Hindu household.
The indulgence in cheap, bakery sweets will only aggravate your sickness, but we dare not say anything even though your suffering is our suffering.