I am highlighting a short story that is featured in my book Bitter
By Bissme S
My father used every trick in the book to save his marriage, from tears to begging. But he failed miserably.
“We are not meant to love one person for the rest of our lives,” my mother said.
Carrying only her handbag, my mother walked out of our house, to a waiting car. The driver of the car was a young man clad in a yellow T-shirt. He was my mother’s new lover. As soon as my mother got into the car, the young man drove away quickly. My mother did not look back. My father, meanwhile, locked himself in his bedroom.
I said: “Father, please open the door. In times like this, we should be together. You can always talk to me.”
My father answered: “For now, I want to be alone in my sadness. I want to grieve in peace.We can talk tomorrow. We can have breakfast together.”
The next morning, I entered my father’s room with a tray of toasted bread, two half boiled eggs and a cup of coffee. I wanted to surprise my father. I wanted my father to have breakfast in bed.
But the tray did not reach my father’s bed. I dropped it on the floor. My father had hanged himself. Tears streamed from my eyes.
"Do not call the police yet, Malena," my sister said.
My sister took an empty canvas and started painting my dad.
“It is not every day you get a chance to paint a man who hanged himself,” my sister said.
I was speechless. I did not know to how to react to what was happening infront of my eyes. My mother has just abandoned my father for her young lover, my father had just killed himself, and my sister was calmly painting him hanging from the ceiling. I felt as if I was in a surrealistic movie which had no head or tail.After two hours, my sister had completed her task.
“Now, you can call the police,” she said.
“Some people will see what I have done as cruel and utterly mad. But most people don’t understand that every great art must have a touch of cruelty and madness.”
My mother did not attend my father’s funeral. She said: “Everyone in the funeral will see me as the culprit who drove your father to take his own life. I cannot stand the idea of everyone staring daggers at me at the funeral. I have done nothing wrong. I am not in love with your father anymore. But society expects me to play the suffering wife and stay with him.No one is going to forgive me because I chose happiness over sadness.”
At my father’s funeral, my sister stood like a beautiful lifeless statue. Everyone thought my sister was too grief stricken to show any emotion. They never stopped hugging my sister. They never stopped consoling her. In reality, my sister couldn’t wait for the funeral to be over.She whispered into my ears: “Nobody told me that funerals can be so boring. Remind me never to attend another funeral again.”
A year after my father’s funeral, my sister had her first art exhibition. One of the paintings that she displayed was of our dad hanging from the ceiling. She had titled the horrible painting Breakfast in Bed. The darkness and the bleakness in the painting grabbed everyone’s attention. Breakfast in Bed brought fame and fortune to my sister.
In a television interview, my sister told the reporter: “Breakfast in Bed is based on a true experience. A daughter wanted to surprise her father by serving him breakfast in bed. But when she entered the room, she found that he had hanged himself. Out of sadness, the tray that was in her hand had fallen on the floor. The daughter is not in the painting. But if you notice carefully, you will see the fallen tray in the painting.”
The reporter asked: “Is this story based on your experience?”
My sister chose not to answer him and instead gave the reporter a sheepish smile.
My mother no longer wants to stay in this country.
“This place has too many bad memories for me,” my mother said.
My mother and her young lover moved to Bali where they run a small motel near a beach.
“Maybe I will paint again,” my mother said.
“Your sister is not the only artist in the family. I was an artist, too. Your father was a difficult man to please and being his wife kept me very busy. I did not have time to pursue my passion for painting. Now, I have all the time to pursue whatever my heart desires.”
My mother was on a creativity roller coaster, churning out one painting after another. But all her paintings had one thing in common. Her young lover was in every one of them. Her young lover without clothes on...Her young lover with his clothes on...Her young lover taking a shower... Her young lover reading a book... Her young lover eating....
“You are obsessed with him,” I said.
My mother answered: “I do not have obsession for him. I have an obsession for love. He taught me what love is.”
I was a tortured soul. The image of my father hanging from the ceiling haunted me.I had a hard time digesting that my mother and my sister felt no sadness over my father’s death.
I have been seeing a psychiatrist over my depression. I told the psychiatrist everything about my life, including the fact that my sister calmly painted my dad hanging from ceiling. There was shocked look on the face of the psychiatrist.
“Maybe you should ask your sister to join in our sessions,” my psychiatrist suggested.
“I do not think she will do it,” I said.
“You have not asked her. You cannot make assumptions. Just ask her,” my psychiatrist said.
I did what my psychiatrist wanted.And I was surprised that my sister agreed to take part in the session without any hesitation.
“I do whatever it takes to make you happy,” she said.
“Your happiness is my happiness,” she added with a sweet smile.
In the session, the psychiatrist brought up the subject of my sister painting my father hanging from the ceiling. Laughing loudly, my sister said: “Do you really believe I will be that heartless to draw my father hanging from the ceiling? Doctor, I have one word of advice. You have to take whatever Malena says with a pinch of salt. Malena has an active imagination.”
My sister has a way of making people believe what she wants them to believe and my psychiatrist was no different. My psychiatrist ended up saying: “I will give Malena something to stop her from having more hallucinations.”
My heart could not take my misery any more. One night, I walked towards the ocean. I took off all my clothes and folded them neatly. I placed my clothes on the sand. Naked, I walked into the ocean.When I opened my eyes, I was hoping to see my father. But I did not see my father anywhere. I was in a hospital. I had been saved from drowning and now, I had been committed in a psychiatric ward.
My psychiatrist said: “You tried to kill yourself. Do not worry. We will rescue you from your madness.”
My first visitor in the psychiatrist ward was my mother, who had flew all the way from Bali. My mother said: “I have done a painting about us.I will hang it on your wall. It will add colour to your room.”
The painting had my mother and me sitting on the beach, enjoying a sunset.My mother’s young lover was in the painting, too. He was sitting between my mother and me. My mother said: “I could not leave him out. He taught me what love is.”
The next day the painting was no longer on the wall.
My mother said: “How could a painting just disappear into thin air?”
My mother was certain that one of the patients from the hospital had stolen the painting.
She said: “I will find the painting at all cost. Nobody steals from me.”
My mother never found the painting. The painting did not disappear into thin air. The painting had not been stolen. The painting is in my stomach. I tore the painting into a thousand pieces and I ate every piece of it.
To read more get my book Bitter