The Secret in the Attic
It lay there on the table, completely unguarded, as if mocking the years and years of efforts and risks I had taken to get it. It lay there on the table, the keys to the room behind which possibly lay my mother’s identity. This key was the only bridge that could make me reach my mother, who died minutes after giving birth to me. I had no memory of her and what was stranger was that there wasn’t a single photograph of hers in the house. When I was 9 years old, I found my father in the attic looking at the photographs of a woman. Before I could take a closer look at her face, my dad saw me and gave me a look I couldn’t forget even if I wanted to. I saw fear in his eyes but it changed so quickly into anger that sometimes I feel as if I imagined it. He never shouted at me but that day was different. He was outraged at me for sneaking up on him like that. He had locked the attic and had instructed me never to enter this room without his permission. It struck me that the woman in the photographs could be my mom and from that day onwards I have been wanting to lay my hands on the key to that door.
And today, after 20 years, I finally get the chance to open the door. I had returned from college a day earlier so I could surprise dad but he wasn’t at home and at that time my eyes spot the keys. My dad always had the keys on him but today he had left it so carelessly on the table, as if they were just a normal pair. I grabbed them and climbed up the stairs, every step filling me with dread and curiosity of the truth I am going to discover.
I slowly fit the key into the keyhole, the same keyhole from which I used to try and get a glimpse of what lay inside that room but never could see anything. Three times I turned it, devouring the melodious sound of the lock opening--the sweet sound of victory. I slowly pushed open the door, taking a deep breath before taking my first step inside. Maybe the first step into my mother’s life.
Actually, my moment of triumph wasn’t all that grand as I had just stepped into a normal dusty attic but it was my moment of triumph whatsoever. I saw an old chest lying at the far end of the room however the odd thing about it was that it had no dust on it like the other residents in the attic. I crept towards it, afraid of what was ahead.
As I had predicted, the chest was locked but the attic keys had another pair adjoined to it which opened the chest. I expected to find the photos I was looking for and some other junk but this was completely unexpected. Inside was a shrine to a woman and it wasn’t just any shrine but was a systematic one which I think only my father can make. The left was covered with letters in rows arranged according to their dates. The right was covered with tiny trinkets such as bracelets and chains and even a handkerchief with a stain all with weird tags on it like the handkerchief tag said 11 May 2000, our first taco night. But the centre was the most amazing part as it was full of photographs of a woman, the same mystery woman I saw 20 years ago. And above it lay a small banner which had a name printed on it, Samantha Richards. And yes I was right, right about everything from the beginning. I did a little jig named “I Found My Mom” right there in the attic. I then kneeled down beside the chest and started browsing through the letters, my hand shaking with excitement. I grabbed the last one in the row and opened it. The letter was addressed to my dad. I read it, out aloud, my eyes getting wider at every word and by the end of it I was worried that my eyes would pop out of its sockets. The shock factor was that high! The date on the letter was just a month ago. Yes, I found my mother’s identity. Yes, my mother was alive. And yes, my mother was a CIA agent…....
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