A Tale Of Two Cousins (Flash Fiction Part 9)

Image by meineresterampe from Pixabay

Flash Fiction #163

This is the 9th part. The previous 8 parts are here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Nalan , Twenty Five Years Ago

I was ten at the time, on the brink of becoming a troublesome teenager. My parents were scared that I would bring inconvenience or even dishonor to the family. My one week absence only confirmed their worst fear. My parents, especially my mother, were getting ready to do something to restrict my freedom, but somehow they were distracted by my cousin Arjin, who came back one day to ask them, “Do you know where Altan is?”

“Oh, my goodness. Are you talking about Altan, the migrant, the spice trader? Why are you so concerned about him? Since Nalan is back, the charge against him is dropped. You really should concentrate on your study, Arjin. Your mind is too much on your friends and on people like Altan.” My father said and my mother concurred. My parents had the twisted talent of turning every conversation into a shaming process against me. Now they were deploying the same technique on Arjin. However Arjin would not let it go.

“So you know something about Altan. He is dead, isn’t he? You and the police killed him, because he is a migrant and he is not one of you. Did you also send his camel to the slaughter house? Did you? Is this the stewed camel meat on the table? Did they share the meat with you?” Arjin screamed.

Arjin always had his proud air of being a boy overindulged by adults. After all he was the golden boy of my narcissistic grandma and being the favorite son of his mother. He could be naive and insolent, but when he unleashed his insolence that day, I was a little surprised. I felt that he actually grew a little taller and finally had a mind of his own.

“Are you crazy? Altan was let go as soon as Nalan came back and I am sure he went away with his camel. They dragged the camel to a stable somewhere, I guess, to keep it safe. I bet Altan went away to wherever he liked to go with his camel. Why are you so hostile to your aunt and uncle? I can’t believe you take Altan’s side and fight against your own family. What kind of kids we are bringing up? Kids can be so selfish, egoistic, un-filial, and rude. How much we suffer from our children? Can you believe all these heartless creatures we are raising? Goodness, you can’t sent these kids back to the wombs. All they do is to cost us money and bring us inconvenience.” My parents scolded Arjin into silence.

However Arjin couldn’t be appeased. He refused to eat any meat and had no presence of mind for homework each day. And that’s not the worst thing that happened. The rumor of Altan being killed and the camel being stewed just would not go away. I guess if Altan showed up with his camel, people would stop gossiping, but Altan never showed up again. And Arjin went around to tell people that he was not involved in this, but it was his aunt and uncle who conspired with the police and did all the bad things.

Basically Arjin went into a total rebellion mode, and his grades showed no sign of improvement. My parents decided that it was best to send Arjin back to his parents and grandma. Away from the university environment, Arjin could be back to normal again. There was a professor in the university who had a business trip to the south, and he brought Arjin back to where he came from.

You would think the story would go away after Arjin left, but it didn’t. Somehow the story took a new turn, which made my narcissistic parents angry and mad. Here was what happened. It was such a close-knit rural college community; everybody knew everybody. And there was no other interesting news. Soon my parents found that they became the center of “vicious rumors”.

One day, my mother was returning the mid-term test results to her students. She was an English professor. Although my mother disliked children and disliked my father, she was nice to her students, especially her male students. They flattered her and listened to her– something my father had consistently failed to do. One of her male students got a bad grade–she handed him back the test result with a score of “70” printed on the corner and said to him, “study hard and do better next time.” And he replied, jokingly, “don’t be so harsh on me. I am not your husband.” My mother was livid. Arjin had told the policeman Big Shoe about my mother “torturing” my father, and it soon became a common knowledge in the university. Patriarchy was a sacred myth in this rural conservative community, and such a reputation was really bad for my mother, who was a teacher and who had to keep up the appearance.

One day, my parents were arguing about something, and their voice got very loud. Suddenly there was knocking on the door. My father was close to the door and so he opened it. Two couples, one from upstairs, and one from the apartment on the other side of the stairway, stood right outside.

“Is everything OK? I hope nobody is hurt.” Our neighbor said and craned their neck.

My father invited the two couples in and said, “I am not a violent man. What are you thinking? We have been living here for a decade and when did you see me hit anybody?”

“Of course not.” One of the husbands said, “we are afraid that you are beaten up by your wife. Well, it looks like you are OK. We don’t want to stay. Have a good night.” So they left, but my parents were “scandalized” that other people would think this way.

One day, my classmate Wen and his older brother Shing came knocking on our door. I just came back from school and my parents were not home yet.

“We are missing one chicken from our chicken coop.” Wen said. “Did you eat it?”

“Wen, don’t be so rude.” Shing said. “I am sure Nalan didn’t do it.” I always felt that Shing liked me. My first secret admirer.

“But people say Nalan’s parents steal other people’s pets and eat them.” Wen said.

(To Be Continued Here)

8 thoughts on “A Tale Of Two Cousins (Flash Fiction Part 9)

  1. Rumours spread like crazy. I sometimes think it’s because people are miserable and would rather enjoy other peoples misfortune than accept that their life isn’t great.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s