My grandma just called me on the telephone for the first time ever. I’m technically an adult now, and I’ve never spoken to her about life. It’s weird to think that somewhere in her wrinkles is my very essence, and her fate inevitably led to mine.
I’m her walking, talking, breathing Karma.
27 minutes and 38 seconds, followed by a stream of endless tears. She hung up, and all I could think was how I didn’t really know who I was, or who I had branched from.
She said that she was waiting to die, and that there was nothing left for her now, and that she missed her mother and Charlie, and her son and she wanted to be with them again.
She told me about her abusive father, and the way his lips sucked down liquor, the way his fists met his mothers face. She told me about his wickedness, and the many times that he’d make her suffer: to get on her knees and kneel of chickpeas for several hours. How if she’d move he’d threaten to kill her. And the many fearful nights she spent awake with her mother, hiding from him, hoping we wouldn’t kill them. Those many nights that she begged her mama to leave him.
She told me that he killed her mama. That her heart was weak, and that she couldn’t struggle with him any longer. Mama died alone, with no one to hold her hand.
And then there was the departure to London, and enslaving yourself to eat. She had worked for a rich Jewish family who kept her prisoner. One day, she wanted to run, and so she did. But they called the police on her saying that she had stolen diamond rings when she only stole pillow cases. People have so many things, and pillow cases are sometimes the only places to put them.
She finally escaped and found herself in Osterly working in a care home with her (only) friend. One night they snuck out of the care home, and decided to go out and have some fun. They weren’t meant to leave in case one of the elderly died. Luckily fate was not cruel, and everything was sound.
They got the train to Trafalgar Square. It was beautiful she said, remembering the fountain and the lights, and all those birds. Yes, the birds, and how they flocked around you panting the ground.
Her friend left her for a while. She sat there alone with all her pain and her beauty, and he found her.
For every day that he knew her he would call her, pestering her with his love. He couldn’t live a minute without her, and so within three months of knowing each other they were married, and she didn’t have to work anymore. She loved him too, she said he was a kind man, a good man. That he needn’t be, he could’ve been like her father and punished her.
No. He was good. And now, he is dead, and she is all alone.
She’s crying to me on the phone. She’s waiting to die.
27 minutes and 38 seconds, I’m crying on the phone.
She’s waiting to die.