She reached for her phone as the screen lit up. It was another reminder to take her morning pills. Her eyes wander to the white ceiling. It was so plain and boring. The apartment was so silent you could hear her labored breathing. She was louder than the clock on the wall.  As she shuffled along to the kitchen, she remembered her mother’s lost battle with ovarian cancer. Why did they have to use such military and complicated words to describe anything to do with cancer? “She lost her fight with cancer. “She must fight this battle”. “She is a survivor.” “She is in remission.” A random thought crossed her mind, if someone says she lost her battle with cancer she would curse them from wherever she will be.

Her once firm body was no more, she was bald and her skin was saggy and dry. She was 37 yet felt six decades older. A bag of bones wrapped in an expensive silk gown. “Maybe I’ve done my time and should bid the world goodbye”, she mused. There was only one cup of natural yoghurt in the fridge. She picked a glass from the cabinet but it slipped from her grip and shattered on the floor. She smiled at the broken glass. The story of her life.

Her parents had separated when she was 15. Her father left with her elder brother. She remained with her mother. She would meet her brother every day at 4:00pm at the local market to catch up on everything. She would tell him what their mother was up to and he would bring her up to speed on what their dad’s drinking sprees dragged home. After three months her father suddenly quit alcohol. Every evening he would visit them in the shared one bedroom apartment. From a five bedroom mansion to a shared one bedroom life wasn’t rosy. When her father came over he always came with her brother and they would stay over for dinner and drive home late at night.

After two months her father gave up and went back to his second wife, the brown bottle. He would kiss her every evening. He became the village daily drinking officer. After a year her mother started getting weak. She had bouts of indigestion, heartburn, fatigue and back pains. She was through with high school and the task of nursing her now weak mother fell on her. She would call her brother every day. Crying. He was away in college. All he could do was listen. It broke his heart every time she called. But he was the only one she could talk to. He never failed to pick her calls. Their father kept to his late night singing on his way home. Maybe it gave him company with his son away at college and his wife and daughter having moved out.

One day, as her mother was walking up the stairs she tripped and broke her leg. Mothers are the strongest. She went to buy pain killers and also look for her father. She thought Kabu would know where he was. Kabu was the bar tender at his favorite local. She was a yellow yellow who loved wearing sun dresses with boots. Everyone in the village seemed to love her stories and she thrived in the attention she got. Even in his state, he managed to take their mother to hospital within the hour. Tests were run. Many more were requested. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Stage four.

She reached for a brush and dust pan to collect the shattered glass. She couldn’t help but wonder, why her? She had it all, a career, a home, vacations, car… She looked around and instantly knew she needed to call her brother.

She dialed his number and got through to Adele singing “Hello”. It is  a nice song. But it is depressing. Listening to it made her feel like she was already dead and was reaching out to him from beyond. His first question was  “Are you okay?”She asked him, “Why wouldn’t I be?” But he knew only too well and in less than an hours’ time he was in her apartment. He looked at her and broke down like a toddler. She was an emotional mess as well. He searched for words to reassure her. “Mummy left us but you are not going to. It is not your time yet.” Right at that moment she knew she had her cheerleader.

She took a shower and they went out for lunch. Later in the afternoon they visited her Insurance firm to get a clearer picture of her insurance funds and options. In him she knew she had found an anchor. He was holding the light at the end of the tunnel.

Older brother and sister