Remains of a hope!
What are those infernal insects called? Fruit fly or a more inclusive variety of the larger species of flies? He really doesn’t care to know the answer. He is only concerned with his nefarious activities. They are so small…like microorganisms…only they are visible…otherwise they would be much like the virus that has been rampaging outside…threatening to break in at any moment…and this fear, this damn fear, which has been keeping him locked up…perhaps for eternity!
You can’t help but be amazed at their prowess: any ripe fruit or any scrap of it, and they will materialize out of nowhere… swarming around you, quietly, but with a purpose. Not only that…for that matter, any leftovers of anything, anything from uneaten food scraps left on plates to dark red stains at the bottom of your unwashed teacup. .and they will agglomerate. Like black dots, they will be immersed in their existential task…you can easily shake them…they will fly as quietly as before, but they will come back again, very quickly. Do you want to kill them? No way, you’d just waste your time clapping without the celebration.
He looks with disgust at the hordes of them, busy as ever in his stuffy one-room flat. His abode, he prefers to call it cursed, is particularly prone to his attacks: at the table with the leftovers on the plates, at the teacups on the floor pushed under the cots for action to be taken later, at the basket of fruit though it is adorned for the most part by a solitary blackened banana, everywhere in the place carved into the wall called the kitchen and the open hole at floor level below it called the sink.
He smiles hysterically at the thought of having to get out of the stifling environment a couple of times during the day…a relief? Say oh! Say oh! Say oh! Well, not for any damn outing or productive activity, but just to answer the inevitable calls of nature. And there too! The hellish bugs completely dominate community restrooms that have been crying red and green due to a lack of dedicated cleaners.
Another basic aspect of his existence also amazes him, he reflects as he continues to sit on the dirty cot, leaning against the rough, hard cement wall.
The seemingly unpleasant attributes of his place of residence had never really been a disturbing thought before… when he worked for a restaurant that was frequented by customers despite the dilapidated building it was in, for its good food, and so on, daily activity from early morning until late at night was the norm. Earnings were good. Good advice from belly-rubbing customers more than supplemented her modest monthly salary. And life was good. His wife was taking good care of his tenement house which he rented a couple of years after leaving his father’s house in the slum, and his daughter got into a good school.
The remains…the flies…the visitors…it was all there, but then the invisible flies swarmed in, powerful and overwhelming. Everything changed in a single day…his workplace closed…he was imprisoned in his stuffy dwelling…infested with visible flies.
For a couple of months he continued to collect his salary and with his moderate savings life was not so difficult. But slowly and inevitably, things got worse. He grew tense, stiff, and irritable, shut up against his will, intolerably hot the following summer.
He also began to notice ominous changes in his wife’s behavior patterns and mood swings: she seemed to have completely lost interest in cooking her favorite dishes; she too was constantly angry and irritated, pounced on his immobility or whatever he wanted to do as a way of helping, saying nasty things about his wasted manhood, etc.: her only concern that seemed to remain fixed was that her daughter should have sons. he continues with his online classes for which he was forced to part with his smartphone that he wanted so badly in his painful confinement.
The suffocation and sadness only increased over the months as her house rent went into pending queue, her small TV ran out of air due to mounting cable charges, and she could no longer order online. your favorite items, from ready-to-go groceries. to cosmetics that were called non-essential because of the invisible flies.
Now he has two growing concerns. Could it be that the love that has always been the mainstay of his married life has been thrown out the window, forever, and that his beloved wife only hates him now? Would he ever get his keep back from him? He has heard that his restaurant may never reopen, because the city authorities are considering demolishing the dilapidated building. Has he lost all direction in his life?
He blames himself on at least two counts: He never really cared for his wife, always leaving her behind in that stuffy dwelling, and never allowing her to do the odd jobs, like most favorite kitchen maid, and never even seriously considered her demand for a sewing machine, a job at which she said she was highly skilled; and he himself, thanks to his now proven false sense of dignity and lifestyle, never wanted to do the jobs that his working brothers in the neighborhood advised him to do.
The hordes settle on the table next to her bed. In a fit of rage, she claps her hands violently over them. The hordes scatter, but now they return to torment her mouth and nostrils.
He sits quietly for a minute beside her, thinking about something, a stern look on his face. She suddenly bursts into a whirlwind of activity: she picks up all the unwashed utensils and all the scraps wherever they are, and starts washing up; she takes the broom cleaning all the corners of the tenement; and spray the remains of a bottle of air freshener.
Knocks on the door. She gives a satisfied look around her room, opens the door and lies back on the cot, sullen as usual. Enter his wife and his daughter. His ten-year-old daughter immediately sits on the other cot, focused on her smartphone. Her cell phone! she thinks, now not with sadness, but with pride… with love.
His wife’s somewhat brighter, smiling face surprises him quite a bit. Closing the door, he places her bag on the table and sits on the floor at her feet. She looks at him and says:
“My mask design is approved by the lady, listen! From tomorrow she calls me at her house, there she will allow me to work on her sewing machine and I will receive a commission for each mask I make.” ! “
“Congratulations!” he replies in a matter-of-fact tone. “I’ve also decided to visit my brothers tomorrow! We’ll discuss what jobs we can start with. The future is uncertain, you know! We must earn and give our daughter and ourselves a better life!”
If she was surprised, now she doesn’t show it. She puts her hands on her thighs, puts her face there and cries silently. He places the palm of his right hand on his head and smiles with satisfaction.