The Foreigner

May 15, 2008
By Sindhuri Nandhakumar, Kundasale, ZZ

'This is it,' she thought, 'this is the end of it all', and Barbara lunged for the sleeping pills that lay strewn by her mother's bed. She flung them into the dustbin and stood up and looked at her mother, lying like a wreck in clothes ten times bigger than her actual size, looking like she had been put in the washing machine and washed a hundred times over.

'Mother,' she yelled, 'wake up' and Barbara shook her mother's whole body, hot tears streaming down her cheeks. 'Why,' she screamed within her mind 'am I here? What have I done to deserve all this?'

The conglomeration of skin and bones before her which Barbara called 'Mother' out of a mere sense of duty did not respond. It was only after a minute that Barbara realised that there wasn't even the regular breathing that could be heard. She stopped, and realised what had happened.


'Miss Barbara Alexandrov,' called out the constable, peering over the heads of the many people at the Moscow police station to find her. Barbara staggered to her feet and walked over to the table where the constable was standing. 'Miss Alexandrov,' said the inspector who was seated by the table, 'we have some questions we have to ask you. Do you mind going in to that room where I will join you shortly?' he asked.


'Well Miss Alexandrov,' said the inspector stepping in to the room, 'I am very sorry about your mother. The post mortem says it was an overdose that killed her. There are some forms to be filled and some statements to be made seeing as that you were the first person to discover your mother's death. My name is Mikhail Petrov, and I am the inspector here,' he said warmly. He looked about thirty years of age, and had a grave but kind look about him. His hair was dark, and so were his penetrating and deep eyes, that gave one the feeling that he was looking beyond everything, right in to you.

'Tell me about your mother,' he said, looking into her eyes.

'She' she was working at the Moscow Underground when one her leg got caught in a machine and she was crippled. My father left with the Red Army to Poland, and we never heard from him again. Depression made my mother resort to sleeping pills, and then she died,' said Barbara nonchalantly and unfeelingly. She looked up and saw Petrov's face with an inquiring look on his face and said, 'No sir I don't miss her. She never loved me and never treated me the way a daughter ought to be. I, I don't feel anything,' Barbara said, her eyes brimming with tears. 'All this has been so hard, with nobody to talk to and nobody to comfort me. I have to earn for the family and we barely managed, and now, I really don't know what I am going to do.' Barbara broke in to tears. 'You know, my mother used to tell me that my name meant 'the foreigner' and all my life I have been living up to my name, feeling like a complete foreigner, never at ease, never comfortable. I don't know'' she said sobbing, 'I just don't know.'

'Miss Alexandrov,' said Petrov, 'don't worry, you will be looked after and there is much more in life for you that will be good, comforting and cheerful. We have made plans for you to stay with your aunt, Mrs Witte whom we have reason to believe is genuinely worried about you, and I as inspector have the responsibility of visiting you every week because you are not yet an adult.' He laid his hands on hers and said 'Truth be said, Miss Alexandrov, I am looking forward to those visits.'

Barbara looked at him, blushing; she averted his gaze and walked to the door. 'Well,' he said 'your aunt is waiting for you, you better hurry along,' and he walked out.

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