A Tale Of Two Cousins (Flash Fiction Part 8)

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Flash Fiction #163

This is the 8th part. The previous six parts are here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Cousin Arjin, Twenty Five Years Ago

A week later, Nalan came back, carrying a bag of deep fried crispy pretzels with her. She grew taller and had a smile on her face, which I had never seen before. My aunt and uncle immediately confiscated the crispy pretzels and interrogated her whereabouts. It turned out that she stayed with her village friend Red Cloud for a week. My aunt and uncle went ballistic.

my aunt: “Did they kidnap you?”

Nalan: “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course not. I like them a lot. I ate a lot of good food.”

my aunt:”Who’s Red Cloud? Is she the one you are tutoring every week? How can you make friend with her? She must have very bad grades.”

Nalan:”Stop spying on me. Stop talking about my friends.”

my aunt:”Look at your hand and your red face. You must have worked in the field. You work for them for free? I am going to go to Red Cloud mother tomorrow and ask for a week’s wage. Also you tutor Red Cloud for free at school every week. That’s unfair that you help her so much, all for free.”

Nalan:” I didn’t help Red Cloud at all. I didn’t work in the field. They fed me for a week for free. It is you who should pay money to Red Cloud’s mother.”

my aunt:”You have no filial feelings towards your own family. Instead you just help other people rob us. You are the worst daughter anybody can have. You have no good words for me who serves everybody in this family like a slave, like a slave. It’s all your father’s genes. You look like your father and you are as heartless as your father. Nobody cares about me. Nobody cares about me.”

My aunt’s scream soon turned into chanting, in which she scolded everybody and made it into a song like reiteration. Nalan fell silent finally. Nalan was a very quiet girl most of the time, but when she started to scream, she was very loud and almost out of control.

Their screaming match and my aunt’s chanting had already alerted the neighbor who came by to see what the fuss was. My aunt continued to chant about her miserable life, her unhelpful husband, her wayward kid. Several women started to comfort my aunt.

My aunt was supposed to cook dinner, but now she was in no position to do anything for the day. She lay down in the bedroom and shut the door. One of the aunties from the neighborhood brought a pot of porridge. My uncle and I ate the porridge and the crispy pretzels for dinner alone. The crispy pretzels tasted really good.

I thought the whole thing was finally blown over, but little did I know what was awaiting.

At school the next day, nobody talked with me. My friend Big Head and Iron Ball avoided me like disease. What happened? Did Nalan say something about me again behind my back? What a witch she was. I couldn’t wait for the school to be over to investigate what happened.

I stopped Iron Ball after school and asked him why he was acting so weird.

“You know what you did.” Iron Ball said, looking on the ground as if there was something interesting there to look at.

“I didn’t do anything. What’s going on? Did Nalan say something about me?” I asked.

“You are the worst. I don’t want to be your friend anymore. Go away. Don’t come to play with us.” Iron Ball said and fled.

I was puzzled at first, but I asked around and was finally told that they got Altan the day after I came home from the police station. They thought Altan was the one who asked me to bring Nalan to the little hill; they thought Altan was the kidnapper. Of course Altan denied it. So they beat him up.

I went to Big Head and Iron Ball to tell them that I didn’t say anything about Altan being the kidnapper. I liked Altan and I would never do such a thing to my friend Altan.

“I am not a monster.” I pleaded, but they would not listen to me. “Where is Altan? I want to talk with him.”

“We think he’s dead. They must have killed him. His camel was dragged to the slaughter house. I saw it with my own eyes. Poor camel. Big Head and I wanted to buy the camel with out pocket money, but they wouldn’t listen to us. I felt I grew up with that camel. He’s a very good camel. How could people be so cruel? So cruel? I cried the whole day and I couldn’t even come to school last week. You are a monster, Arjin. You must have said something about Altan. Otherwise, how could they go after Altan?” Iron Ball said.

“I…” I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t even remember what I said to the policeman. I must have mentioned Altan once or twice, but I never ever said he did bad things. He didn’t do anything bad. He didn’t. He was a wonderful person, so lively, so devoid of the strange pride of an adult. He was our friend, with a very good heart.

Am I a monster?

(To Be Continued Here)

7 thoughts on “A Tale Of Two Cousins (Flash Fiction Part 8)

    1. Yes, you are right. Just because Altan is a migrant, he is blamed for bad things happened around him. It is easy to target him. Poor Altan. I always remember him and his camel, which one day just disappeared. They never came back.

      Liked by 1 person

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