An Unfortunate Occurrence


Is it not the most depressing thing imaginable that the truest sentiments can never be shared? Let us simply admire their tragic beauty in silence. The silence  in question was deafening as it filled the room surrounded by four aged walls, smeared by cracks stemming from the rotting ceiling that gave off a putrid smell, often deterring visitors - but these are the kind of details that make a home special.

The silence was supposed to be a stranger to this room which was often a site for a great deal of hullabaloo once the family settled down for supper at six o’clock sharp. The hullabaloo was positive, however, as the family fully utilised the short period of time they had together by engaging in discussions of all sorts ranging from the philosophical to playful insults. Being his incandescent self, the father would often begin the topic of the evening by offering a conundrum or summarising some outlandish article he had read in the local newspaper. From this, the discussions would float around this, that, and the other and culminate  into a tearful display of affection between the family of four. On Monday, the family had discussed an article concerning a man who sold his soul to protect his family. On Tuesday, they began by talking about Emil Cioran’s “History and Utopia” and so on and so on. By Saturday, however, it seemed that a strong tension had invaded the home and held the usual happiness hostage. What could cause such a sudden change?

There happened to be a scandal that had broken out in the area which had sent the inhabitants of this impoverished community into delirium. A murder had  taken place. The man who had committed the crime gave himself to the police immediately, shouting out pleas for forgiveness from the Heavens as he was shoved in the police van which arrived on the scene at roughly the same time as the ambulance. The reason for this was because the man had called the ambulance to aid his victim and subsequently called the police immediately after. Upon instinct, this is an abnormal reaction but an abnormal reaction to  an abnormal situation is normal behaviour. Let us diverge into a short history of the killer. In all honesty, not much was known about his personal life given his nomadic way of living but rumour has it that he was once the son of a government official in the capital and was eventually estranged from his parents due to his frivolous spending habits and a knack for violating the laws. The estrangement was said to be mutual, despite him being only nineteen at  the time. Out of pride, he then rejected funds from his parents and desired to “earn way more” than his wealthy parents had. Naturally, he struggled to  adapt to a life riddled with obstacles that required the sort of funds that he had left behind to enter our poor community - hardly the kind of place one would live in by choice. In his youthful zest, he joined a local socialist organisation. In truth, it is clear that he joined the group simply to have somewhere to stay but, as a token of his appreciation towards the group, he gave himself up to the whims of the organisation and became possessed by their ideas. He made the natural switch to Marxism which further nourished his youthful resentment, which was originally aimed at his parents but now targeted the wealthy, then the government, then the system, and so on and so on. Anyway, this is all the information I have managed to gather and not much has been made of him since his ideological possession - until now.

The details of the murder were still foggy, as this was breaking news, but the event itself had clearly disrupted the usually cozy community. This was especially true because the victim was Gogo N----- who was idolised around the community for her willingness to help around despite her elderly age. The poor thing was succumbing to dementia which made her house the site of large gatherings for people to check up on someone who had done her bit to brightly colour the dull area. Her origins are also unclear given that birth certificates were not widely accessible in regions such as ours during colonial times but it is widely known that she had seen death through the eyes of her loved ones enough times to drive one insane. Somehow, despite having every reason to be bitter, she was just the opposite. Some of the local Professors even called her “Gogo Aly” (short for Alyosha). As I said earlier, the details of the murder are unknown but the majority claim that the killer was after Gogo Aly’s funds, of which she had amassed quite a few due to pensions, gifts, and the like.

Saturday night was the first family gathering that took place after the murder  which occurred in the early hours of that morning. The eldest daughter, of twenty-one years, had barely touched her plate, such was the effect of the news. She wore something resembling a frown but it was hard to make out given how far down her head was hanging; possibly hiding her battle with the tears that had been pouring out from her eyes since she heard the news. She was particularly fond of Gogo. Her younger brother of nineteen had taken to finishing his meal much quicker than usual. Given his neurotic nature, he often countered such negative emotions with whatever duty lay in front of him; in this case, it was his food. The only parental voice in the room was that of the mother who was constantly encouraging her daughter to eat some of her food - much to the delight of her son who, as young men often do, tried his best to deviate from the awkwardness of the saddening news by poking fun at something. In this case, his sister’s loss of weight (which was his way of encouraging her to eat as well). The father was the most distraught of them all. While he respected Gogo Aly, he was not particularly close to her which made it strange that his character had undergone such a drastic alteration after her death. The following ensued:

“But it was expected at some point. Did you know that he’s a Marxist? May God take my soul before I ever fall for that gimmick. All of them are the same: They spend too much time within themselves ruminating and seething. As narcissists, their whole world view is that of themselves, not of the world itself. Now they lie to us about their compassion yet in truth they see the world as it should be, not as it is. Ultimately they see nothing at all. It is like the blind mice leading each other into some childish utopian wonderland. They are always one corpse away from achieving this wonderland.” The son said this furiously as he aimed to succeed where his mother had failed and ease the tension by offering a topic to discuss. Educated people often retreat back into hindsight when an unforeseen event has taken place - perhaps to remind  oneself that they are still more rational than they are barbaric. It is worth  noting that both parents were Professors and both their children were educated from home which was not only cost-effective but also more efficient.

 “Some trees have even deeper roots than it seems son. Now is not the time to point fingers...” replied the father who finally opened his mouth but not before immediately being interrupted by his daughter.

“It’s a case of self-respect! No matter how low one stoops, resorting to such a crime is indicative of low self-worth! Especially for someone who lived like a King just a couple of years ago. The nihilists strike again.” She said this so ferociously that her mother visibly jumped in shock. After silence reigned for a couple of minutes more, the mother, who seemed pensive all night, expressed herself.

“But how can you expect such people to respect themselves without having overcome suffering? Take, for instance, what makes people respectable in the first place. Such people have risen above the ruins of their environment and have taken responsibility for their being. They have been beaten down by their circumstances until they made the decision, perhaps by some inherent sense of pride, to resist the temptation to submit and now they wear their battle scars boldly, without the need to reveal how they came about. These scars are a pillar of vulnerability from which all the fear to suffer has been erased and now they look at their obstacles with a warm embrace, like that of a friend whom you do not meet with but still connect with deeply upon your reunion. That is true friendship. You do not show off your friend for you do not want others to invade your sanctuary. In that sanctuary, you finally feel the sense of individuality that we all crave so much because no one can create the same connection, no one can create the same sense of understanding that your friendship creates. How can you expect them to have self-respect if the responsibility to take meaningful action has been taken out of their hands by prosperity and convenience? They are not worthy of the obstacles they encounter which is a source of shame for them. Their pillars are flimsy and built on sensualism since they have failed to find meaning in life. So it is difficult to blame them for lacking self-respect. Unfortunately, it is simply a sign of the times.”

Silence reigned supreme once more.