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!


2. Sweat, Tears and the Smell of Blood


“46, 47, 48 . . .” Poh Lee counted outside the house. He was leaning against the wall beside the gate with his hands covering his eyes. It was nine o’clock in the morning and five big brown ants were roaming around his feet until they gradually made their way up his ankle. They barely made it half way up when Poh Lee slapped his legs continuously and flicked them off in alarm.  He then stood up straight and admired the miniature lion sculptures placed at each end of the main gate. 

                “50! Ready or not, I’m coming to find you!” Poh Lee screamed. He embraced the light breeze that blew his long fringe up in the air and then looked at the coconut trees that surrounded the house before sprinting inside. Hide and seek was always a very thrilling game to play in 168.

                Mohan was in the middle of the narrow, dim, corridor that led to the three main rooms and the bathroom.  The dotted tiles were cold, time was up and he had not found a place to hide. In a state of frenzy, he ran straight ahead and pushed open the door of the last room. As he entered, his feet tangled with a bunch of ropes left lying on the ground and fell, smacking the right side of his forehead onto the edge of a green wooden stool.

                Everything became a blur; he was unable to focus on his surroundings and was slowly losing consciousness. He only knew that he was experiencing a piercing pain above his eye. From his knees, he collapsed to the floor and cried in agony as bright red blood oozed out of the cut that was slightly above his eyebrow and swam down his eyelid and along his cheek. It just kept on flowing, down his neck, onto his shirt and into his hair.

                “Mohan! What happened?” Poh Lee kneeled down beside him and shook him vigorously. He was confused and could not quite comprehend how this was possible. “Open your eyes Mohan! Oh my god!”

                “Ay, what is happening?” Mohan’s mother questioned them from the first bedroom. She had just given birth to their newborn baby girl, Malini, and was in the room resting beside her. 

                Poh Lee, a panic-stricken little boy with hands covered in blood, decided that it would be a bad idea to tell her; she was not one who handles bad news very well.  Instead, he ran to his friend’s father who was unloading the groceries, which he had just bought, in the kitchen.

                “Uncle, Mohan is hurt! And, and, and he is in the last room and he is bleeding a lot! I don’t know what happened, uncle!” He spoke in a hurry.  The words seemed to spill out of his mouth as he searched into the eyes of this uncle, wondering how he would react.  Would he be angry with them? Would he tell them not to run around the house? To never play hide and seek again? That’s probably what his father would have done. 

                “It’s okay, it’s okay.” Mohan’s father took Poh Lee by the hand and walked to the last room.

While walking, Poh Lee looked at the face of his friend's father; it was calm, he didn’t seem to look panicked or frightened. He was walking at a quick pace and when he entered the room, he was shocked by what he saw. Rapidly, he carried his crying son up in his arms and inspected the inch long cut. It was wine red and opened deep into his skin. The feeling of worry came upon him like a tsunami wave, and as he looked at Mohan he noticed that his eyes were losing its twinkle and his face was turning pale.

“Don’t cry. Don’t worry.” He told both himself and Mohan.

“Uncle what are we going to do?” Poh Lee inquired. He had been standing opposite them with his fingers in his mouth. One by one, he peeled off bits of his fingernails with his teeth and spat them out onto the floor. His legs were in a crossed position and a pool of sweat was developing above his upper lip.

“We need to take him to the hospital.”

As he said those words, it struck him that there was no transport for him to use; he could not contact anybody and brining his son on a motorbike in this condition was far too dangerous. The only people in the house were himself, his wife, daughter, son and Poh Lee, and he didn’t know of anyone who lived nearby that owned a car.

“What about me? My father will only pick me up after lunch.”

“You can stay here and play in the living area. If I am back early I will send you back home.”

Mohan continued to moan in pain, his face was covered in a dirty mixture of sweat, tears and blood, his arms held a light grip around the neck of his father and his legs stiffly around his waist.  His father scurried out the corridor, entered the first room and he told his wife that he was going to take Mohan to the hospital.

“Huh? What happened?” She sat up on the bed sleepily and looked at the two figures that were standing by the door. The room smelled of powder and all that could be heard was the rotating blades of the fan. Eventually, she noticed the blood stains that covered her sons white t-shirt and heard his soft sobs. “Oh my God! Mohan, why are you covered in blood? What happened?” She began wailing at the sight in front of her.  Panic took control of her heart faster than the speed of a rollercoaster. As previously mentioned, she is not one who handles bad news very well.

“Don’t worry, you just stay here. I’ll take him to the hospital and come back.” He shut closed the door and immediately walked to the porch. As he put on his shoes, he saw blood dripping onto his light blue shirt and realized how the stench of it was becoming stronger.

“You stay here, ok Poh Lee?” He gave a quick glance at him. “I’ll be back soon.”

“Okay Uncle.” Poh Lee sat timidly on a small bamboo stool and nodded his head.

“Rajes, take care of Poh Lee and make sure that he eats something if I am not back early enough to send him back home.” He spoke to his wife, who was slowly making her way out of the room and into the living area.

Once assured that Poh Lee would be fine, he took quick steps up the slope, past the pale sculptures and made a turn to the left. As he walked straight ahead along the main road, Mohan seemed to be in a daze, his head moved in all directions, and the sun blinded him. Panting heavily, sweat trickling down his forehead, and a shirt drenched in fresh blood was his state as he passed a long row of houses. He was so immensely focused on getting his son to the hospital that he ignored everything else that happened around him.

                “It’s okay, don’t worry. Don’t cry; we’re almost there.” He repeated every few minutes.

Mohan looked around him weakly and caught sight of a big black cross to his right and the coconut plantation to his left. Occasionally, he heard the faint engine of motorbikes riding past him and the barking of stray dogs. Other than that, the town was quiet. He felt the heat burning his bare legs and his head pounded uncontrollably as his father walked past more homes. With every tick of a clock, things began to look more blurry and queer. The green grass mixed in with the raspberry pink bougainvilleas and the all the buildings seemed to clash together. Dogs and cats looked alike and ixoras grew bigger.

 “Papa! Papa!” In fright, he cried even more.

“Don’t cry, it’s okay, it’s okay.” He said gently as he brushed the hair of his son. “The hospital is right here.”

He was telling the truth, for within a matter of two minutes he stepped inside the hospital. The smell of Detol filled the air and nurses pushed wheelchairs from one end to the other. Patients gathered at every corner and all the seats were occupied. Some were coughing, others held children in their arms, but in front of them was a family covered with rashes, three nurses and a tall Chinese doctor with slicked back hair.

All he saw was the doctor. Nothing else.

He ran to doctor, stood behind him, and waited for him to finish talking. When the doctor finally turned around, he was shocked by what he found waiting for him. The first thing that caught his eye was the blood soaked shirt, followed by the perspiring man, and finally the little boy that he was holding.

“Please, help my son, he has hit his head on a wooden stool and is now bleeding.” Mohan’s father pleaded.

“Of course, but how did you get here?” The doctor questioned curiously. He wore a white coat, black shoes and had a stethoscope around his neck. There was a feeling within him that he already knew the answer, but he wanted to make sure.  The family behind the doctor and nurses were dodging from one side to the other, trying to get a peek at what was going on.

“I walked.”

“What? You walked! It must have taken you at least fifteen minutes. Why?” The doctor had never before witnessed such a desperate act.

“I had no transport. He was losing lots of blood and so I had to get him to the hospital immediately.”

Without questioning him anymore, the doctor took Mohan in for stitches. As he watched the doctor carry his son into the room, he began to calm down, knowing that Mohan was being taken care of. The creases from his forehead disappeared, his shoulders relaxed and he let out a breath of air with ease.

“It’s okay, it’s okay.” He whispered to himself as he sat in front of the doctor’s room, took out his glasses and wiped it clean with a tissue.


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