Read Episode 1
She placed the journal on the dressing table. “I saw this in Tony’s room.” Her words were icy. She didn’t bother looking at Andrew who sat on the other side of the king-sized bed. The bedroom looked like three rooms had been merged to become one. On one side was a wooden bookshelf with collections of design and estate management magazines. A couple of inspirational books, business journals and novels occupied another section. Two bedside tables were on either side of the bed with a bedside lamp on each. The wardrobes were enclosed at one end of the room opposite the en-suite bathroom and toilet.
“Ok.” Andrew’s eyes were red and bulgy with eye bags. Lines had formed wrinkles on his forehead. He looked crushed under the weight of guilt. He always felt he was responsible for the death of his son since his demise. He should have noticed that things were not right with Tony, but he had turned a blind eye. He’s just being a teenager. He’ll come out of it. He clenched his hand in a fist, shut his eyes tight and fell on the bed. Images played in his mind. He remembered the day Shalom had informed him that they were pregnant. His joy knew no bounds. They had waited for five years, and they finally had what they always hoped for. He watched him grow and had been so involved in every detail of his life until…
“I’ll want us to go through it. There might be things in it for us. I’m curious to know what my son wrote in this book.” Shalom had not been able to comprehend how her son who was so full of life and showed no symptoms of sickness could just slip away from her hands. When the doctor broke the news that the substance had done much damage, her first suspect was Halimah. She was directly responsible for him since her schedule was always tight. She had worked her way up to the top of her career as a diplomat. There was no month she didn’t have an engagement that took her farther away from her home. Her husband had not been present either. He was too focused building his business to think about the children. Halimah was the perfect help, ever cheerful, always friendly. She never heard any bad report of maltreatment. She couldn’t place a finger on why she suspected her maid. A part of her believed that Halimah was too pleasant to hurt her son, while another part was at war with belief.
“Would that be necessary?” Andrew remained glued to the bed.
“Yes, it is. I’ll want to know what is written there. I’ll want to hear from Tony one last time. You never can tell—” She burst into tears.
“Ok.” Andrew wasn’t ready for any of her troubles and decided to dance to her tune.
Shalom picked the journal from the table and held it against her chest. She ached for her dead son. She wished she could hear his voice and not read his words from a lifeless journal. She sat beside her husband and placed the journal in the space between them. Shalom ran her hands on the journal, and allowed the tears flow. She sniffed and wiped away the tear drops with the back of her palm.
I never believed I could do this, but I think I have to. This is the best way I can express myself since there is no one I can talk to.
The words hit Shalom like a ton of bricks, and she braced herself for what was ahead. She wanted to change her mind about reading whatever Tony had written in the diary but the first words helped her make up her mind to read to the end. She moved closer so she could read it without a strain in her neck or eye.
Mum and dad told me they waited for five years before I brought joy to their world, but I don’t think I’m their source of joy anymore. Other things have taken my place—my sisters, mum’s career, dad’s business, and many other things. I’m just like one of the piece of irrelevant items in the house. For ten years, before my sisters came, I was at the centre of affection and love from mum and dad, but it soon ended after Marta and Mitchel were born. I was the big brother and I had to play the big brother role. Dad used to carry me on his shoulders and run with me around the compound, but he stopped having my time. Each time I ran to him to put me on his neck, he’ll tell me that I was now a big boy and I should stop expecting him to play the way we played when I was small. He also made me understand that I now had little sisters to take care of. I was just ten and was not ready to share the love my parents had for me with anyone. Things had gotten worse in the past six years which I’ll be sharing with you. It has become too heavy a load for me to carry and I need release.
Shalom looked at her husband and back at the journal between them. The silence was loud. Both had recoiled to their shell, guilt gnawing at them with the little revelation from Tony’s diary.
“Let’s read it some other time,” Andrew suggested. His voice was grave. He wanted time to prepare himself for the many more revelations from his late son.
Shalom reluctantly closed the diary and placed it in the drawer of the bedside table. She tucked herself into the bed and wrapped herself with the blue duvet, her back against Andrew. She soaked in the grief as it overwhelmed her and rehearsed every word from the journal in her head until sleep took her away. It took one week before they read the journal again.
I was dad’s favourite. He’d come home every day with different things he bought for me. Candy, Ice Cream, Pizzas, mention it. I got anything I wanted. I remember one time mum joked that they were going to remove my teeth because of the junk I ate. They had already removed two of my teeth. Dad used to play video games with me. Every Saturday, when we were done with our late breakfast of toast bread and tea, dad and I would play until late into the afternoon then we would do my homework together.
Things changed when Marta and Mitchel came into the picture. I hated them. I remember I ran into my room and locked myself up when mum and dad came back from the hospital. Aunty Halimah told me that mum had given birth to twins. I cried. I wanted to be the only child. When I refused to open my door until evening, dad shook me violently and slapped me for my naughty behaviour, and that is how he had been to me since then. He forced me to play with my sisters and anytime I called him to play video games with me, he’d use Marta and Mitchel as an excuse.
Mum was not any different. She was always fawning over Marta and Mitchel, she had little time for me. She sent me to Aunty Halimah for anything I needed. She would also make me and Aunty Halimah look after my little sisters when she and daddy were out together. I was just a ten your old boy who wanted the love of his parents but was not getting it anymore. I have to stop writing now. I don’t know why they are calling me by this time. It is only when they want to shout at me they call me.
Shalom flipped the pages of the journal. Her eyes were red and wet. Andrew seemed unbothered. He was distant and it showed in his eyes. She knew something was eating him up but was not ready to broach the topic with him. All she bothered about was reading through Tony’s diary.
To be continued…