Contributed by Afifa Tanisa
They are not mine.
They are not my sister’s.
I wish there were.
But they are not.
They belong to the old lady who would sit next to the window all day wondering when her children will come to visit her. They belong to the old lady whose husband died at 57. They belong to the old lady who, despite breaking her leg, climbed three flights of stairs every morning just to wake up her grandchildren. They belong to the old lady who refused to get surgery for her blindness. They belong to the old lady who, at last, gave up on her life on the blue hospital bed.
They belong to my grandmother.
It was the day the sun refused to shine. Clouds overcrowded the sky. The trees were silent. The hummingbirds refused to tweet. But the rain didn’t stay quiet. It refused to keep silent. My grandmother had plans to give the depressed anklets to my newborn cousin so they can revive. But destiny had other plans.
It didn’t take long for the smiling faces of my family members to turn upside down into a frown. The baby who was crying a second ago was no longer in the world. Everyone was shrieking like a lion looking for its cub. And me, my hands were tied; there was nothing I could do to relieve their pain.
“Raisa, take these anklets and care of them. These are your responsibility from now on,” were the last solid words I heard from my grandmother’s mouth to my sister.
But the delicate anklets were too small for my sister’s feet.
“These don’t fit me. You take them,” she politely uttered.
But the hard anklets were too big for my chubby feet.
Unfit for both of us, the anklets were put inside the dark closet and we never spoke of them again.
Three years passed as fast as the shy wind, and the forgotten anklets were found. However, by then, the anklets grew too small for my thin feet. But I had another cousin, one I hadn’t seen in real life at all. With my dad, the bare anklets rode on an airplane for the first time to Bangladesh. My grandmother’s anklets were now my cousin’s.
But a week before my uncle’s grand wedding, an ambulance was called home. 43 days old, my cousin was rushed to the hospital. But death traveled faster than her. Pneumonia. The doctors said.
Pneumonia. It stole two of my cousins from me even before I saw them. I never got to hold their soft feet and cuddle them. What was their fault? What was my fault? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter anymore because even if I want to know, no one has an answer for me.
And those anklets, they are divided. So divided that they won’t rejoin for another 100 years to come.
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