Owl Poetry & Prose

Conversations, Times

“You’re looking lovely, I wish you were not alone. But then again I can’t say that because my daughters are the same”.

Yes. Alone. Unmarried. Uncoupled. Un- something.

I just laughed it off – like I do when most ask why. Why I am not. Why I am not a lot of things. Married, seeing someone, satisfied. Whatever.

I knew he meant well. I knew it came from a place of concern. Funny – the man who never lifted a finger to help his sister or her offspring now concerned about one of them.

I had long given up any bullshit notions of respect. What bloody respect. Half my family belonged in a bin – the one labelled ‘waste’. Blood was never a determiner of decency or empathy. I learned that growing up and now I had had enough. From everyone and their bullshit. No more ‘respect’ for the sake of it. The old guard knew very well that the likes of me would have none of this pseudo respect for people who should be publicly flogged. And they were cautious.

Rightly so.

I had also decided against talking to my so called second, third and whatever cousins who feigned ignorance or a lack of recognition even after meeting them a good 10+ times in my lifetime. I was done with their glazed looks that saw right through me but apparently never recognised me. Oh well. To hell with them. I was not going to be gracious anymore. If they had some medical reason I would be forgiving. But no. This stemmed from their inflated opinion of themselves and their deflated opinion of my family and me.

Divorced. Oh dear dear. Such a scar on the family name.

Ha. What bloody name. I wanted to hoot with contempt. Precious few of them had a modicum of decency to stand on. They were now desperately clawing at the tendrils of a family now dead and torn apart. What a bloody lark.

Family tree – tracing roots of what? Of villainy? Of age old nostalgia for something because you have nothing?

I was done with this crap and this pseudo façade of respect. I was also done with my generation of bullshit accomplishment, beauty and god knows what else. It was all false. A display of fluff.

I saw one such specimen standing with her mother. She, at some point, wandered over to our table and sat down in a corner, apparently immersed in her phone. I ignored her. She deserved no attention from me.

This was madam over accomplished. Apparently, a child prodigy. Unfortunately, only her mother saw the prodigy part. The rest of the world did not. And the rest of us, had to deal with an insufferable brat.

I had chosen to ignore my mother’s other siblings as well. Another bunch of pretenders who were molded in ice and who dwelled in the depths of misery. One was the Picture of Dorian Grey in inverse – the face with botched Botox bore the scars of her villainous nature. Ironic. The once beauty now a wreck of the Hesperus. And like the wreck she tossed and turned on the dancefloor in the arms of one man and another. That was pretty much what she did her entire life – dance to the tune of men, much to the detriment of her own intellect.

What a waste.

Try as I might to have some empathy for her, I had none. She was someone that anyone would love to hate. But buried in there was probably a tormented soul. But it was not my problem to be solving.

I spent the night enjoying conversation with a select few genuines – those are always welcome wherever in life.

“It’s sad that our families have been torn apart like this”

Aunty Ann was seated next to me and she said this while looking out at her brother across the room who she was no longer talking to due to a family dispute. I had just stated how I was not talking to my mother’s siblings.

I also realised that Aunty Riane did not have her brothers at this event.

All of us belonged to these elongated families that had over the years intermarried into the quagmire it was today. And it was messy. It always is. Part of me was glad that the pretense was no more.

Every family had their demons. Everyone had skeletons in the closet and everyone had a cross to bear. It was a relief to be able to speak the truth. I was done with pretending. And I was glad that many of the old guard understood why. Though I knew it was not easy.

As the evening wore on, I went to the restrooms and met madam over accomplished. Funnily, she said my name and greeted me and so I proceeded to speak to her. I was surprised. I expected her petulant snobbery that I remembered from 25 years ago.

“How have you been and what are you upto?”

“I’ve been good. I am involved in research work and I enjoy it very much. We are trying to do something despite the country situation and it’s hard but I keep going.”

“I can imagine. But good for you. Do you get to make any changes in these areas?”

“No, it’s a tough journey. I have not even got my license to practice yet but I won’t give up. I love this country and I want to do what I can for it.”

Wow. I was taken aback. This was not what I expected from her.

“Well that’s great and I wish you the best of luck.”

We said goodbye and went our ways – her out the door and me to the loo.

She was another specimen that one could easily hate. So full of herself. But here she sounded sincere and actually decent.

I was mentally tapping myself to remember that people do change. It’s not what we expect but it can happen. Perhaps my jaded view of the world was painting everyone I knew with the same old brush stroke.


The next morning I was woken up by the persistent ringing of the land line. I clambered out of bed with my hair tousled and went to answer it.

I was greeted by a gruff voice telling me she wanted to speak to my mother (who was not home). She was quite upset about it and then she proceeded to fill me in on what she was going through.

“Uncle and I are stuck alone at home. He can barely see so we can’t move house as he is used to this layout. The house is too big so we lock ourselves up. My daughter brings us food every day. I can’t keep a maid because Uncle is violent and treats them badly.”

“Oh gosh Aunty isn’t there anything you can do to get him some medicine or help?”

“He is stubborn and refuses to go to a doctor. I think it’s Alzheimer’s or Dementia. I don’t know child. All I’m saying is don’t get married. I’m telling you – don’t get married.”

I was surprised and told her so. She was 77 but her situation was furthering this belief that marriage was not worth it.

I felt for her. My annoyance at being woken up was now gone as I realised that she was lonely.

“I can’t use a mobile phone child, my arthritis prevents me from dialling those keypads.”

That hit. It was a knock on reality and I promised I would call her with Ammi via conference call.

She went on to tell me about her grandchildren.

“Rukshani is refusing to do her A/L. She is stubborn. I don’t know child. She won’t listen to anyone. The parents are dancing to her tune.”

It didn’t sound good and dear Rukshani sounded like she was going through some mental breakdown. I knew those signs – they were my heralds growing up.

“You must do something aunty. Don’t let it get worse.”

But the parents were too busy working. Too busy running on the corporate treadmill to nowhere fast.

After assuring her that I would call with Ammi on conference call, I hung up.

Her conversation buzzed in my head that day and made me realise what a strange turn of events I had encountered since the previous night. It was like revelations within situations that were seemingly ordinary but not really. Conversations often reveal more than we are aware and now I realise, it revealed much about myself as much as it did others.



Meet Lilanka
“what is meant to be comes about of what one does”.
An eclectic personality with a penchant for creativity, Lilanka is an old soul who loves life, laughter and stepping off the beaten track. She finds joy in nature, travelling and venting her existential frustrations via her writing while calming her body with food and her soul with music. Her motto is – “what is meant to be comes about of what one does”.
A collection of eclectic expressions from life according to Lilanka Botejue. From her creative outbursts and passionate views to her love for nature, food, music and archaeology, Owl Muses is an attempt to capture these moments in time.
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