It was her father’s death anniversary. It’d been two years since he died, but for her, it felt like it was just a week ago. Everything reminded her of him. When the stars shone their rays through her window, her father’s eye came into view. When she heard someone saying, “Dad,” tears flowed. When she saw his pictures, her heart tightened as if someone was grabbing it. She knew she would never forget him.
She woke up that day knowing that it would be an agonizing day. She walked to her window, which was covered with a beautiful crimson curtain; sat on her dad’s favorite chair and stared at the sky. It was a beautiful crisp blue afternoon drowsed in the warmth of the sun. She found comfort in it.
She decided to go out and drink his favorite tea on his favorite bench, which was as red as a rose, curved, and lightly padded. She sat there with her head down for hours, trying to prevent her tears from escaping. Quietly, something fell into her hands. She thought it was her tears but it wasn’t. It was the rain.
As the rain floundered from the sky quietly, she didn’t move. She sat on the chair letting the rain soak into her skin. Pitter-patter. Pitter-patter. Pitter-patter. The rain was getting heavier and heavier.
Then, “Dad,” someone said. At that moment, she could hold her tears no longer and poured out her grief in a flood of uncontrollable tears. The rain helped her cry her heart out and feel better.
Suddenly, she heard a creak and hurriedly wiped her tears. She glanced over the door and saw her mother. Her mother suffered from dementia and rarely remembered her daughter and husband.
“Why are you crying, little girl?” said her mother. “Is something the matter? Do you want to come inside and dry yourself? We could also have some warm tea together.”
She realized that her mother didn’t remember who she was. This was normal, but for her, it was so painful, especially that day. “ I am your daughter. Can’t you please try and remember me?”
“Sweetie, I don’t have a daughter,” the mother said.
“Then do you at least know what day it is, today?” the girl said.
“Of course—it’s my darling’s death anniversary,” the mother said. “Oh, how I miss him. He was such an amazing man.”
“At least she remembers Dad, I guess,” whispered the girl, feeling abandoned. Their family had been so close and caring. However, after her father’s death, her mother got dementia. It was so hard for her to be forgotten by the only person she had left.
“I really need someone with me today,” whispered the girl. “But at least Dad won’t feel lonely up there because Mother remembers him. Yeah, that’s enough for me”
“Well, are you coming in, little girl?”
“Okay, thanks for the offer. I will be coming in a minute,” said the girl. She sat on the bench for a couple of minutes to calm herself. Then she went in and took a warm shower. By the time she had finished, the rain stopped. The sun was bidding its farewell and welcoming the night and the trees were dancing along the wind. The girl returned to her room and sat on her dad’s chair, watching the sun disappear.
Smoke & Mirrors with Dareen Yousef
Interviewed by Jemimah Wei
What is the first thing you remember feeling really strongly that you wanted to write, and why?
The first thing I remember wanting to write was about a girl who’s going through the same feelings as I am. That is because I think that when you write your feeling as a story, you are showing how you feel rather than just saying how you feel.
How do you hope readers are changed by your story, and how did writing the story change you?
I hope my story helps its readers learn to appreciate the things they take for granted. I know people say that a lot but there are a whole lot of things that a person takes for granted without realizing. We all know that we should be grateful for breathing, being healthy, having parents, etc. However, like in the story, being remembered by someone dear to us or even a stranger is an amazing thing. Writing the story made me want to put work into my relationships and be grateful.
Dareen Yousef is a young student from Eritrea. She is in the creative writing class of Dr. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai at Roshan Learning Center in Jakarta, Indonesia.