A collection of Short Stories on my Grandfathers

In this short story, my grandfather, as a young boy, is tortured by the thought of having to drink a particular oil during his holidays. It takes place in Malaysia, in the year 1946.
This is a story which I have written for my Personal Project at school. I will be writing a total of 13 different stories about my grandfathers and this is the first one! I would appreciate any feedback!


3. Helpless


Sitting on top of four crumpled newspapers, on the edge of a red foldable table, was a yellow and black Pyrex bowel filled with steaming chicken curry that had a spicy aroma. The smell of cinnamon and mixed spices went up her nose as she held the edges of the bowl with a soaked kitchen towel and walked out of the crammed and disorderly kitchen.  Outside, the sea breeze blew gently, frogs croaked from the shallow drains beside the mango tree and crickets sang songs.

Her plastic slippers flipped and flopped against the ground, creating a CLAP with every step, and her veiny hand stretched around the bottom of the fiery bowl as she turned the wooden knob of the door and kicked off each slipper in front of her.  Her right foot touched the cold cement steps that led to the all – purpose room and as she climbed, the toe of her left foot got stuck in the hole of a slipper.

The toe carried the slipper up and bent it against the edge of steps as she stepped onto the final step. Immediately, her body clashed against the beige wall beside her and she fell, face down, into the room, punching her left knee onto the ground and beating the Pyrex bowl against the ground.  CRASH; the bowl smashed against the smooth dotted tiles, breaking into a million pieces and splattering the chicken curry over the refrigerator, walls, ground, and into her hair.

Rajaratnam was in the living room when he heard the noise. Abruptly, he sprang out of his chair and with great difficulty walked to the kitchen with his silver three legged walking stick.  The multipurpose room was a subsection of the living room and as he entered he saw his wife bent over; on her bony knees and line filled palms. ‘Her palms, her palms’ He thought to himself.

Yes, her palms were a sight. Four jagged edged glass pieces were deep inside the middle of her palm, causing blood to spray out like a water fountain.

“Aiyo! My leg! I slipped and fell on my left knee again.” Rajeswari yelped at her husband as her body struggled in to hold herself up.

The lines on Rajaratnam’s forehead grew deeper while the muscles in his arms grew weaker. His palms were moist with fresh sweat, his chest rose up and his lungs expanded as he inhaled deep breaths of air.  He desperately wanted to let go of his walking stick and help her up, but couldn’t since he had just undergone a severe injury. The doctor had told him that he had to abstain from carrying anything that was heavy. Never before had he felt so helpless.

“Can you hold onto that chair and come up?” Rajaratnam arm pointed to the green and yellow chair beside the refrigerator. He was hoping that she would be able to use that as a support to pull herself up, at least to sit down. Unfortunately, this did not work; her knee had given up on her and her body could not find the strength to pull.

For Rajaratnam, everything in the world seemed to stop as his mind flooded with ineffable thoughts and the feeling of disappointment crushed his tender heart.  He could see the pain and misery in her face and heard her soft sighs and groans. He watched her as she held on leg of the chair and eventually rested her elbows on the seat.  He examined her face, the way her teeth clenched together to bear the pain and her eyes squeezed shut to produce the wrinkles around her eyes which he had never before seen.  Never before had he felt so helpless. 

“Don’t worry, I’ll call Shamala to come and take you to the hospital. She’ll be her within ten minutes.” He assured her as he walked over to the phone which sat on table at the right corner. His fingers trembled as punched each number and he silently prayed to God as he waited for the line to be picked up on the other side.

“Aiyo, quickly I cannot take it anymore.”                                               

“Okay, okay.”

The phone rang, and it rang, and it rang. Nobody picked up.

Tension bloomed in the atmosphere.

The phone continued to ring and ring and ring.

“Hello, uncle” Shamala said on the other side.  Finally, she picked up.

“Shamala, can you please come quickly. Aunty has fallen down and she needs to be taken to the hospital now!”

“Okay, okay, I’m coming right now.”

Rajaratnam placed the phone back down and turned to his wife, whose Batik dress was half covered in blood and glass. The red blood darkened the yellow designs and pieces of glass pricked her body.  He came closer to her and held a firm grip around her upper arm with his right hand.  He used all the strength he had and tried to pull her up, but she did not cooperate; she shook her arm off and refused to let him help.

“Ay, the doctor said not to carry anything heavy. Stop this; you are going to hurt yourself. Just wait for Shamala to help us.” Rajeswari told him. She knew that he only wanted to help her, for that’s what he has always done.  He was a husband who always assisted her in any way that he could, so this was a difficult situation for him.

When Shamala arrived she rushed into the room and carried her up. She placed her aunties arm around her neck, wrapped her injured hand with a towel that was found in the cupboard and slowly helped her walk to the car with Rajaratnam walking beside them, holding his wife’s arm.

He stood by the gate with his walking stick and watched the car drive out the porch, up the hill and turn to the left.  He was terribly upset that he was unable to help her. 

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