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Family of Unfortunates
She was the youngest and the only girl among her five brothers. But she had to work more than anyone else first in her parents’ home then in the fields and later in her husband’s home. Her parents were ruthless to her whom they considered inferior and always preferred their sons. Every time their father came home after traveling for business, she would run to open the door and serve him water while her brothers wouldn’t even bother to come out of their rooms. Her father was selfish merchant who kept a meticulous order of his money. He was also ungrateful in the way that he would run to his sons and give them the toys he brought from the city but he never brought anything for his only daughter. Unlike the father, her daughter kept serving him like an obedient nine year old child. The truth was that her parents were blinded by the tradition that only sons serve their parents when they are in their death bed while the daughters establish their own homes after getting married.
There was no one in her family except her grandfather who treated her like she was his own. Her grandfather was in his nineties who walked with a cane and always wore white clothing. The only nourishment she received in her childhood was from him. She remembers those days when her brothers would get ten pennies to spend in the fair—the dream of every child—while she would get a broom to clean the floor. But her grandfather would give her twenty pennies and tell her to go the fair even though her parents restricted. That was the last fair she went to because her grandfather no longer had any voice in the family of imbeciles. She remembers coming back from the fair with a new cane to give to her grandfather and finding out that the elder was being questioned about his right of letting her go to the fair.
“Why did you let her go?” her father raged at the old man.
“She is a young girl and her childhood should be spent in joy instead of gloom which she receives from you every day. You should be happy to hear that she is more capable than your sons,” the grandfather said.
“Don’t tell us what to do. You are good where you are which is on your death bed,” her mother said to the grandfather. The worn-out old man could not say anything or he would risk his only source of food and bed.
This everyday quibbling didn’t last long. One early morning she noticed that her grandfather didn’t follow his daily routine of waking up at four o’clock with her so she went to check on him.
“Grandpa, grandpa,” the young girl whispered in his ears.
“Grandpa, wake up. Its four o’clock,” she said in a higher pitch. But her grandfather made no remarks. She did not worry much considering their bed time story was quite long. But at seven in the morning she reported to her father. “The old man sleeps a lot,” her father responded and resumed his work.
They found him dead in the evening after she called the neighbor who was a doctor. She felt a flood of emotions but misery and gloom took her away. The anger she felt for her savage parents made no difference in their behavior. Her childhood was also buried along with her grandfather’s body. She remembers his last words: “A child is a God in disguise.” She never believed him.
There was no one else who would give her pennies to go to the fair or narrate her bed time stories. There were no fairs for her, no friends she could play with and there was no God she could praise. Even if there was one, what would she praise him for? The grandfather she lost at the age of nine or the parents who were dead to her or the misery she received with her birth. She was an unfortunate child of fortunate parents. Her everyday weeping made no difference in disseminating her pain. Her face became a sculptor of gloom which could never disguise in joy. There were no smiles on her face; her eyes had no place for cheers. Her nose could smell the delicacies her mother made during the holiday season but she was never fortunate enough to taste them.
Her life was as dark as the black rose and as impervious as hell itself. Her mind was acquired by dark thoughts which quelled every ray of hope which came to her heart. The worldly problems no longer gave her any trouble. She followed her parent’s orders without any objections because she no longer felt any pain in doing so. It has been six year since her grandfather died but her mind felt as if it was burdened by decades’ old gloom.
It felt as if she was just nine yesterday and today she turned twenty. Anyone who saw her said that she was a subject of heavenly sanctity but only she knew that her soul was worn out by the darkness which ruled it.
It was time for her parents to think about her marriage. And in those days a young lady had no other business or educations to stay in her parents’ home. Marriage was a dream of every girl but she didn’t seem a bit excited about it. Her parents started noticing variations in her behavior. She would stay awake till midnight starring at the moon after a day of tiresome work. The fair in the village was back and it would be her last if she went. The father gave her twenty pennies to spend in the fair but she declined the money and the fair. Her parents were hearing all type of gossip about their daughter being bewitched. So without further delay and humiliation, they rushed her marriage without considering that two of her older brothers were still bachelors. Her father had decided her wedding with a merchant who she knew nothing about and she had no right to do so.
Her family was as harsh as ever before but she was about to depart. Until then she continued to follow their tyrant rule. She experienced scorching hot noon of the summer when she would graze the cows in the fields. She could barely put her feet on the barren and burning land because her feet were already blistered by this routine of walking barefoot. She would walk barefoot because every time her father went to city he would forget to bring her shoes but it was no surprise to her that her brothers were wearing specially made shoes. Her wedding was no phenomenon either. There were no grand decorations and the arrangements were as if the family went bankrupt a day before her marriage. The groom also turned out to be an ordinary farmer under an extraordinary amount of debt.
Awhile after leaving her parents’ home, she thought that God is merciful but she forgot that it was not God but the darkness which ruled her soul and life. Her husband turned out to be a careless drunk who slept in the fields and lied to her wife that their land was flourishing with crops when he left. But the land like her heart never got enough sunlight to even bear fruits. The fields were gone in return of the house which they bought for their about-to-be big family. But until then she was the only one to bear misery but that never let her down. She would wake up at four o’ clock every morning, broom the floor, wash the whole house and clean the kitchen utensils. Her home was the cleanest of all in the neighborhood. She was very meticulous about the way her house looked, smelled and felt. Her neighbors would see her holding a broom during snowy winter and blazing summer days.
After six months in her new house, she gave birth to a girl and then six other children in the next years. Her new family was mainly her children because her husband was always away not because of work but for entertainment. He sang with his friends in the village bar while his wife took care of the children. For this reason the parents seemed more litigious than the children. People walking through the street along their house would hear loud noises and cries. She was bickering with her husband because most of the time they had no food. She always had a cause reasonable enough for a quarrel. For instance, feeding seven children while their father pursues his leisure routine of sleeping and singing at the bar is painstaking for the mother. There was one day when all the seven children and their mother didn’t get to eat anything because there was nothing to eat but a few pieces of bread. Their mother divided the pieces for them and sacrificed her appetite but that was not the only day. She was like her grandfather who had no voice in her family because whenever she spoke against her husband, he would end up slapping her and sometimes worse. The scorching summers and the cold winters came back and brought hunger, desperations and tensions in the family. Her old days were back but she was not alone anymore. There were seven living souls with her to experience what she experienced since her childhood.
The children were deprived of happiness and family besides food of course. They walked to school barefoot and wore no extra clothing in the winter because they couldn’t afford it. When the rest of the children played in the neighborhood they were locked in the house with their mother drowned in sorrow. They were the unfortunate members of the unfortunate family which may survive for ages with the purpose of inheriting nothing but gloom.