No Longer My Home
Written by Anannya, who secured the first position in a recent story writing competition conducted by Insipid Board in a collaborative workshop on storytelling.
Maya sits there, static and tense. Her brother, Rajesh, whom she hasn't seen in years, sitting right across her. He was the one that had called her and had somehow managed to persuade her into meeting him. Now, he is the one who is silent, stirring his cup of coffee and refusing to look at her in the eye. Maya is anxious, to say the least, and she just wants to get this over with. “Why did you call me?” she asks, shattering the silence.
Rajesh finally looks up and talks, "Ah, no, it has been a while."
"It has," she says blankly.
"Ma misses you," he announces.
"Does she?" Maya questions rhetorically.
"And Ba just..." he trails off, "...he refuses to talk about you."
Maya doesn’t know what to say, so she lets Rajesh talk. He briefly pauses before continuing, “I’ll get straight to point," he determines, "I called you because they want you to come home.”
Maya felt her chest tighten. She shakes her head stoically, “No.”
Rajesh looks confusingly, “No?”
She shakes her head harder, emphasizing her decision, “No — not after all that; no.”
“Are you serious?” he asks in disbelief.
“Of course, I am! They were the ones who kicked me out, Rajesh! I had to struggle on the streets to stay alive, and now that I have everything held together, they want to waltz right back into my life!”
He lets out a bitter laugh, “They are trying to make amends with you. This is how you react?!”
“Well, they should have 'made amends' sooner,” she snarks.
“You are being so unreasonable, Maya!”
“ I am bei—" she scoffs, shaking her head, "They were the ones who kicked me out for being g—”
“You can’t expect them to understand your lifestyle,” he comments, throwing hands.
“I was their daughter before anything, or anyone, else!” Maya noticed her voice becoming louder and her anger boiling over, so she rests back, taking deep breaths to calm herself down. Rajesh inhales deeply, “Aren’t you tired, Maya? Don’t you want some kind of financial support from Ma and Ba?”
Maya scoffs, “It’s been hard, suddenly being independent and not even having a plan. I was always tired. But you know what the ironic thing is?” she looks at him intensely, “Once I picked myself up, I was getting happier. I met people like me. I had a girlfriend for a while, and even though we lasted for 6 months, I don’t regret it. It was the best six months of my life. I was so free - so loved, something I never felt when I was home.”
Rajesh’s jaw clenches, “Please they wouldn’t have treated you that way if you had never come out to them.”
“Of course, you would say that."
“What’s that suppose to mean?” He says irritably, but Maya continues, “Even before coming out, I was never treated fairly compared to you—”
Rajesh cuts her off, “Oh, you are seriously doing this right now—”
“Yes, I am,” she states firmly, “You call me a brat and unreasonable, but you always got away with everything—”
“That’s not true,” he interrupts.
“-I was always the one cleaning up all of your mess—”
“-whenever I mentioned how much that frustrated me, Ba would simply say it was my job and that you were too tired from studying—”
“And, how is that—”
“-Ma always made fun of me and embarrassed me just so she could impress you or make you seem good—”
“That never happened—”
“-and the worst of all: I. Was. Never. Heard.”
Rajesh shuts his mouth, embarrassment creeping on him. Maya feels overwhelmed but continues, “None of you ever listened to me. In fact, you’re still not listening to me.” Maya takes deep breaths, both of their faces red. A heavy silence falls upon them, sombre and suffocating. Speechless, Rajesh keeps quiet.
“I’m not going home,” she starts, “Not until I know for a fact that things will change. If Ma and Ba still want to talk then tell them to call me, you have my number after all.” She gets up, “Tell Ma I miss her too," she concludes, huffing. With that, she gets up and leaves, the weight lifting of her chest.