The Mourning Beckons of an Amicable Voice by Suchismita Ghoshal

Decent for the first time in a stretch of odd days, Arpan looked around the farmhouse searching for a more productive way to spend his day. He had been drinking heavily ever since his family left him last Tuesday out of a big brawl and, as he looked around the house, he saw many things scattered here and there which could have been placed right if his mother was there. He remembered the last moment when his mother and sister turned to look at him for the last time.

One look at the bathroom, and he knew she would never let it get this bad. There was mildew on the shower walls, old and dried toothpaste in the sink, and fresh spider webs collecting dust in the corners. Towels were crumpled on the floor and the toilet needed scrubbing. One glance at the mirror and he saw his scruffy face, disheveled hair and swollen red eyes staring back at him. Seeing his reflection that way, Arpan being so frustrated broke the mirror and blood cascaded through his fingers and started falling down on the ground. Enraged, he kicked out some waste swaying down there on his feet.

Two eggs in a bowl in the fridge, a packet of brown bread and a bottle of orange juice, which he had bought happily one or two weeks ago to maintain his daily fitness routine, were lying on their sides, lifelessly in the same way there were kept. His thoughts restlessly were running from one side to another side.

His solitude made him unapologetically shabby.

Arpan stopped by the kitchen sink, stuck with stinky stuff, and put the plug in the drain. Squirting a generous stream of dish soap into the sink, Arpan ran the water and filled the sink with the dirty dishes. His gaze wandered around the room. The kitchen was a mess. It would take hours to get it clean and he could not believe how lazy he had been.

For three hours he worked on the kitchen. He washed all the dishes, emptied the coffee mill, wiped up the spilled coffee grounds, the salt and the broken container and swept the kitchen floor. After a quick mop across the stickiest areas, he straightened the woven rug and wiped down the cabinet doors. Once the kitchen was back in order, he took a deep breath and surveyed his handiwork.

Satisfied with the work he had done, Arpan left the kitchen and headed to the living room. Stuffed in the disheveled couch cushions, he found a peacock feather lying on the couch; once, he loved the peacock feathers a lot, that he would do anything to get them. Driven by thoughts, he paused for a moment. Extreme exhaustion drenched him, not out of the endless work he had been doing since morning, but for the excessive heartbreaks that pierced his heart repeatedly in his life.

He cleared, dusting the bookshelves and showcases with the feather duster. As he dusted the top of the cases, the duster stuck on something and as he pushed it hard, it snagged on it, getting entangled. Reaching up over the ornate ledge, he discovered the feather duster was snagged on the string of his father’s old guitar strings. Taken by surprise, Arpan began to weep. He wept badly with the thoughts of how his father drowned in the melody while he sang his heart out!

He remembered the day his mom had hidden it from him. He had been playing with the guitar and snapped the string, almost breaking it. Mom took it away from him and said he could not play with it as it was not a toy. He had looked for it several times as a teenager but he never thought to look on top of the bookcase.

Finding the old guitar concocted back memories of his dad who died when he was ten years old. Never really dealing with the loss of his father, as his mother still was with him to serve him a shield always, Arpan was filled with an overwhelming sense of loss and grief. He took a very long sigh, thinking his mother left him alone in a cruel world, too. He knew his recent binge drinking had been because he wasn’t dealing with the mourning separation of his mother and sister, and now to have all the old feelings from his father’s death come back to the surface, Arpan collapsed into the couch cushions. He could almost feel the disheartening gloom filling the room.

He felt so lost and alone. He felt like an orphan. He felt like drinking. He wanted the pain to stop hurting – he did not know what to do next. If only his mother was still here, he could have balanced everything from his emotions to his house.

“Perhaps you could continue cleaning,” he heard a familiar female voice softly whispering in his head. “Arpan, don’t stop here in the living room, the bathroom is still a mess.”

Follow Suchismita on Instagram at @storytellersuchismita and on Twitter at @Suchism08.

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