Hiding in not so plain sight

 

Fifi slowly closed the door of the closet behind her, as she watched the light disappear from the outside until, all that she could feel was the darkness and clothes all around her. She cuddled herself up, closed her eyes and covered her ears with her ears. This way, she could pretend that she could neither see nor hear nor breathe. Fifi always wondered what it was when one dies. How do they feel, how are they being. Ever since her mother told her that her father had died last year when she was four, she couldn’t understand. She couldn’t comprehend what it meant by dying, so she decided she would try and pretend that she was dying, by not seeing nor hearing. Because that’s how she understood death… By not being able to see nor hear. And so, she held her palms tightly on her ears, and closed her eyes so hard so that she could feel death. So that she could know how daddy feels.

And she would stay there for hours on end, letting the time pass by, as she let her mind wander and move away from home, and away from the pain of her father’s death, and away from her family. Fifi would at times struggle to concentrate, and she would sob silently in her bed until his big sister would come and sleep with her to comfort her. Fifi liked this because it made her not feel alone. Her elder sister is the only one who knew how to make her smile, and laugh, and happy.

Fifi decided to stay there in her closet for a while longer and It would be around evening when her mother began to worry where Fifi was. And she would shout, and Clara her out at the top of her lungs. She would ask her elder sister to look for her, and when she did not see Fifi in her room, mother began to become scared. She would go out and ask her neighbors children if they saw Fifi, before going to their parents. At this point, her heart was racing, she feared for Fifi. A fear that had snaked its way into her heart after her husband died an year ago. A fear of death. How near it was to her. And she had seen someone she loved taken away from her. A poisonous fear that sometimes haunted her in her sleep. She had to call the police now. She held the phone uneasily, as she dialed the numbers, and Fifi’s elder sister anxiously looked.

Just then, a shadow that was Fifi strolled into the kitchen, and grab a banana like nothing was up. And her mother would stand there in front of her, like a ghost, and watch Fifi go back to her room. Her mother didn’t say a word to her and she knew that Fifi was punishing her. Punishing her for her father’s death. She knew that she shouldn’t have told her that her father had died. Now look, her daughter was trying to make her feel worried and thinking about all kinds of things that could have happened to her if she had suddenly disappeared.

That night, Fifi felt a body crawl up and into her blankets. It was not the tender warmness of her bigger sister. And it was not the calmness with which her bigger sister entered her bed. By the little roughness that she felt on the hands that touched her, and by the feint smell of perfume that filled her bed, Fifi knew, that for the first time, her mother was in her bed. Her mother was sort of crying but trying to hide it, she was sort of trembling too, and looked weak. Fifi grabbed her mother’s hand, and held it tight, and moved to cuddle her own mother, as she closed her eyes and imagined death once more, how quiet it was, before she no longer heard her mom cry…and Fifi soon heard her mother sleep.

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