Esma looked at the dishes of food exhibited on the dining room table. She wondered if she had ever seen the table so full. It always puzzled here why her parents needed such a big table for a family of four. Now of three…
She saw some distant relatives she hardly remembered sipping wine from crystal glasses she had never been allowed to touch. Glasses which had only been in display to be dusted every now and then.
Then, as she walked around the house, she noticed a few of the neighbours her father had tried to befriend as an attempt to feel home in the new environment. He had once explained to her that neighbours are those who help you out in times of difficulty. Esma asked herself if they had helped a few days ago when her brother passed out by the door as he could not get the medication for a disease easily curable just because he did not have medical insurance yet.
They had brought some food today and this was a time of difficulty. One apparently which required a lot of food.
Slowly, she moved away from the crowd and stood by the corner where, on a coffee table, stood a jar with her brother’s greatest possession: a goldfish. Jim, he had named it. Her brother was always sure that the fish was a boy… And had chosen the Western name rather than a name from their culture because, just like their father’s attempt to integrate into a life on a new continent by meeting neighbours who he hoped would be friendly and all giving like the people that used to live across from his house in his homeland, the little boy had wanted to be a part of the country by mitigating his loneliness. Even if it was with a tiny fish named Jim which lived in a jar.
Tired of unfamiliar faces in the living room, Esma turned away and walked to her bedroom. Before she got there, she heard a light sound. She followed the sound and came to her parents’ room. Yet, seeing petals and leaves of flowers by the door, she paused. Some of the guests had brought bouquets of flowers. Esma found it pointless that life should be drained out of flowers to make mourning seem pretty. Then, came another light sound, and Esma pushed the door open only to see more yellow petals and leaves scattered around the bedroom floor. The leaves led to her mother seated on the carpet, the carpet she always made sure to keep spotless. Her lap was full of dandelions, and clenching onto one or two, she tore them apart, all the while staring blankly at a barely visible spot on the carpet.
Esma remembered that spot. The carpet was precious. It was one of the handwoven pieces of art that represented their origin, who and what they were, as her mother liked to exclaim every now and then. Esma’s mother believed that the handwoven carpet from Anatolia represented how strong they were and that their history in a way lied in between the knots.
The cause of the almost non-existent spot on the large impressive carpet was a couple of months old. By then, Esma’s brother had acquired a habit of been walking around the house with the jar containing his new friend in his hand. That day, he had plucked quite a few dandelions in the garden and made a nice bouquet in his own childish way. As a surprise for his mother to see, he had left it on the floor in her bedroom. Feeling that childish excitement and pride of making mummy happy, he wanted to observe his mother’s reaction so he had hidden in his parents’ room. However, rather than a cry of joy, he heard a sudden scream of anger shouting out his name: “Hasan!!!” With the screeching outcry of his name, he dropped the jar housing Jim. The water spilled all over the dandelions, leaving a mark on the carpet his mother would rub at for hours, grumbling in the meantime.
Had Esma not been there, Ibrahim would have lost his best friend on the new found land. Surprised at all the commotion he had caused, Hasan froze motionless, until Esma came along and rescued Jim, picking him up from the wet and stained carpet and filling the jar with water again.
Hasan, with his young mind, open to novelties and ready to accept unfamiliar grounds, could not see why his once loving and all forgiving mother would become so short tempered in a distant country. He could not understand that the comfort his mother needed in her unfamiliar surroundings, the salvation from the difficulty she was having in leaving her life and home, the home she only used to leave to go to the bazaar to buy fruit and vegetables, where everyone knew her and accepted her bargains in the one language she had ever used was in the carpet. She needed to find the security of a home she could never go back to in a spotless old carpet.
Now that Hasan was no longer, the mother wept on her carpet, clinging onto a bunch of staining dandelions some distant foreign man in her house had given.
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