By Marzia Rahman

Of all the people in the world, I least expected my brother to knock at my door. That too in the early hours of dawn.

Why do I like dawn so much? I often ask myself.

Is it because of the serenity? Or the quietness? The world has yet to wake up; the day has yet to start and there is still time; still time to sleep a little, dream a little, weave stories a little. Even if they are unscripted, untrue.  

But how different is today’s dawn! How very strange!

My brother was a kid when I left home. An adolescent when I was divorced, disowned.

He is a man now and I don’t know him. He doesn’t know me either. Yet, he is here. There must be a very good reason.

He sits on a couch in the living room. There are two furniture here, a faded dusk-orange couch and a small ottoman I bought recently.

I don’t sit. I don’t think. Standing in a corner, I watch him watching me curiously, looking around furtively, thinking, worrying.

How much he knows about me? What is he so worried about? 

After a while, he says slowly and softly, “Baba is dying.”

I stare at him, puzzled. He looks down, his feet touching the soft handloomed blue rug under the couch. Daniel bought the rug. I never liked it but kept it, nonetheless.

I suddenly realised that he didn’t ask me if I am fine. How is my life going? Maybe he is not interested in my life. Maybe he is here to perform a duty. Or he is just a messenger.

I feel sad but I say nothing. I ask no question.

My silence, my non-reaction baffles him. He shifts in the couch and says, ‘It’s cancer.’

How much bad news has he brought? What should be my feelings for a family who cut the cords long ago? I tried to patch things up once, twice, a few seasons before giving up. 

I ask him how is mother holding up? He shakes his head.

No one has more sense of duty than my mother. She didn’t think twice before banishing her only daughter. Only because her husband wanted it, her husband willed it; and she obliged.

“Why did mother send you?” I ask. “Did father give consent?”

“They both want you to come home,” he says, and the last word rings in my head, it keeps ringing.

Home? Where is it? Where I was born, raised and later banned? Or the ones I tried to build with my husband and my lover. And failed ridiculously each time. Who said it—Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in?

Is it true? Or just a cliché? Is it even possible to go back to the forbidden home of the ancestors? 

Marzia Rahman is a fiction writer and translator based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her flashes have appeared in 101 Words, Postcard Shorts, Five of the Fifth, The Voices Project, Fewerthan500.com, Dribble Drabble Review, Paragraph Planet, Six Sentences, Academy of the Heart and Mind and Writing Places Anthology UK.

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