My sister’s bedroom looks like a museum. There are things everywhere. The silver candlesticks are from Mother’s gold and silver pair, her chipped tea set was a retirement present from school, the evil eye was sent by a former student, the list goes on. Every trinket tells a story. Of people that have come and gone from her life. Fossilized remains of relationships that have become extinct.
Now she lives a solitary life. I tell her to go out, just to get some fresh air. She says she doesn’t need to. That the room is alive and the things all talk to her. I fear that the isolation is getting the better of her senses.
The most grotesque thing in the room is a large oil painting behind her sofa. It’s a revolting piece of work: a big, bright red dahlia done in chunky strokes, by Gul, her dearest friend. They taught in the same school. My sister taught English and Gul, art. One day, after fifteen years of a Siamese-twin-like friendship, Gul withdrew from the school and from my sister’s life without notice or explanation. I later learnt that her husband came into money and they moved into higher circles. My sister didn’t believe this, but after the incident, she became quiet.
The baubles, on the other hand, speak nonstop. They give me a headache. I tell her to clear them out. She says she has tried, but they refuse to leave. I remind her that they are just objects, not squatters. She says, in her classroom voice, that they are memories and that memories are like bandages. “Pry them out, and you might find old wounds, with new pain.”
One day, while she was out for groceries, I stepped on the sofa and barely reaching the monstrosity, nudged it off the wall. The damn thing left behind a square patch of blistering paint and mould. It was even more on the wall when it was off the wall. The patch was so ugly that I had no choice but to hang the painting back. For that, I needed a ladder. As I pushed the sofa aside, it made scratches on the wooden floor. There were other scratches there, old ones. Tattletales, whispering loudly that the painting had won yet again.