Family Matters

Taking up Reena’s Exploration Challenge #87
by Reena Saxena. The challenge is to write based on the image prompts above and below. This is my fictional response. Thanks for the mind prompt Reena.

We walk our lonely paths of quiet decay. Structures, once vibrant and alive, are worn down by the passage of time and buffeted by the winds of indifference. Old ways of being morph into future generations and new structures are born.

Eight babies poured from my mother’s womb in eight years, then someone turned off the tap and the babies stopped flowing. I was the fourth of the eight children my parents raised in our three bedroom apartment. The apartment was unending chaos. With my father absent ten hours a day my mother tried hard to cope but was heavily outnumbered. I remember pouring Coca Cola on top of my cereal for breakfast, eating three different flavours of ice cream for lunch and enjoying endless Kraft dinner. Due to the closeness of age , life was one long battle, all of us fighting for our parents attention. The chaos continued from birth through puberty. We would steal each others clothes and leap in anger at any provocation. I had no solitude, no secrets, no new clothes and no desire to be around my family.

Turning eighteen, I found a job in a small company as an office clerk and left home to make my own way in the world. I worked hard, enrolled part time in bookkeeping courses and found I enjoyed the logic, neatness and continuity of the process. Soon after completing the course I was offered the job of bookkeeper and accepted with extreme delight. My world became confined to 12 feet by 20 feet of office space and my best friends were two metal filing cabinets, holding memories of past transactions. I spent twelve hours a day in that tiny office savouring the quiet, the routine, the order and the occasional software challenge. Far from the maddening crowd and family.

When I first left home my family stayed in touch and later on I would receive invitations to birthday parties, marriages, christenings. I ignored them all and continued plodding along blissfully wrapped in my bookkeeping cocoon. After a while the invitations stopped coming.

Twenty five years had passed and I accepted the speech and the gift from the company in honour of my years of service. I should have been happy with the acknowledgement and the applause of my co-workers, so why did I feel so empty inside. I looked on all those smiling faces and realized that I did not know them or hold any feelings for them. It was then that the depression started. I awoke the next morning and all of a sudden life no longer had any purpose. Arriving in work, I realized it was all business, there was no real closeness or friendship with my office colleagues. I returned home that evening to the empty apartment and felt despair. After a year of this existence I was friended on Facebook by someone who claimed to be my nephew.

I was apprehensive about pushing the confirm friend button but took the plunge. We conversed back and forth for a few weeks. My nephew bringing me up to date on family affairs. Then the invitation came for the annual family reunion. I thought about the invitation long and hard and eventually decided to go. So here I am at the train station, butterflies in my stomach and the beginning of a migraine.

My sister Karen picked me up from the train station. Greeted me with a hug, took my suitcase, bundled me into the car and I found myself smiling nostalgically. She drove to the resort where the family was staying and I found myself surrounded by family, chaos revisited. There were more hugs and kisses, crying, recriminations, strange looks from in-laws and shy glances from twenty nieces and nephews I had never seen. My head spun as I tried to keep up with all the introductions. I was back into the melting pot of family life and I loved it.

18 thoughts on “Family Matters

  1. The challenge for your protagonist will be to like what he sees after 25 years.

    Homecoming is an elusive concept for some (including me). I’ve returned to the place I grew up in, and find both bits of familiarity and strangeness around.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, Len. What a story and I’m noting from the comments that there are pieces of truth in here. It certainly reads that way. Wonderful writing and a poignant tale about the value of family. Even a chaotic one. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for visiting Diana. There are actually five pieces of truth but taken from other peoples stories. I am the second eldest of six siblings, exactly 10 years from youngest to eldest. Two live in Canada, two in Ireland and two in England.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. enjoyed this read len.
    what stress your mother must of had with so many children to care for by herself!
    thats really cool u had worked in accounting without a degree n learned on your own.
    nice!
    although the 25 yrs had ended with nonclose friends, having remained in the same company is a huge accomplishment.

    Like

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