He turned the key, and entered his apartment. His own apartment. True, it did not have a view of the Atlantic Ocean, looking onto a couple of grey brick walls and destroyed old building yard, but his own. Here he had lived with his wife and children, until ten months ago when she came up with her crazy plan to leave their jobs and spend all their savings and move to a small town nobody had heard of in Canada, so she could study something nobody had heard of.
The only thing that betrayed the absence of that woman was her empty bookcases. The books were packed into two huge boxes. She had repeated to the point of dementia “Give everything out- except my books. They should be sent to my father’s house.” Everything else was as intact as the day the had left. Their colourful slippers lying around. His son’s big racing car. The huge stuffed tiger. The outdated computer. Their beds were unmade. He went into the bathroom. Half-empty bottles of shampoo and conditioners. Half-used soaps. Half-empty tubes of toothpaste. Their swimming gear in that stripey bag, still hanging on the rail. He went to the kitchen and opened the fridge, which was still running. Half-empty bottles of cough mixture. The cabinets were full of half-empty jars of spices and dried herbs. The apartment was waiting for them to come back. Waiting for her to come back and start cooking.
He turned to his mother. “For God’s sake- why didn’t you clear all this stuff out?”
Her wrinkly eyes filled with tears. ” Every time I came here, I broke down and sobbed. I could smell you and the kids everywhere. This house smelled of you…”
-Even if we had come back, we would have got new toothpastes and shampoos…
He began working feverishly, gathering all the junk in a large pile. His mother started crying again. “All this was all that remained of grandchildren. I came here and thought of them and cried. I imagined my grandson sitting in his car, my granddaughter in her swing…”
-We haven`t died, you know! I feel as if you felt we had died. Lots of people go to Canada. You kept encouraging us to go!
-I only want was best for my grandchildren. But I missed them so much…
-I`m going to sell all this stuff or throw out what I can`t sell. I don`t need this house set up as a museum to your grandkids.
-Oh no… When will you bring them to visit me?
-Soon, soon. Maybe Eid. I promise…