“Jamie!” A woman shouted.

I turned my back to see who that shout belonged to. She run to me and hugged me before I could process what was happening. “Look how big you’ve turned out now! It’s been years!”, she shrieked with excitement.

I was still stunned but eventually managed to ask “When did you come back, Aunt Lisa?”.

“Oh dear, your uncle got a heart attack last week. He just got transferred to the city hospital as they don’t have sufficient resources in the village to treat him. I took a quick run here to buy toiletries because I didn’t have time to pack stuff properly. The perks of having no child: you do everything on your own.” she replied grimly.

“Oh I am sorry to hear that. Um… how is Uncle Dan now?”  I asked reluctantly.

“Well, getting better I suppose. However the doctors keep monitoring him intensively because his heart is still very weak” she replied sadly. “Would you like to visit him?” she added while raising her eyebrow.

I was speechless. “I... I don’t…"

She cut me off, “Oh come on, I need help with these bags anyway. And look, the taxi queue is unbelievably long. You wouldn’t want your old aunty to suffer more than she already is, would you?” she insisted by putting her shopping bags onto my shopping cart.

I had no choice but to drive her to the hospital and without hesitation she dragged me to the ICU where his husband, Uncle Danny, was lying on the bed with life support attached to him.

She lied.

Aunt Lisa didn’t tell me the truth. Uncle Dan was not getting any better. He had been in a comma for a week. If they took the life support off him, his heart would stop forever.

I stared at the old wrinkled man on the bed. And the memories hit me back.

I was seven. Sleeping in my Teletubbies PJs when the door opened and woke me up.


“Sshhhh” the voice got closer.

It was not Dad.

“May I sleep here, Jamie? I could not sleep alone. If your aunt had agreed to come along with me, I would not have any trouble getting some sleep now” without waiting for my answer he slid himself under the blanket.

He hugged me and whispered “Now go back to sleep”.

But I could not sleep.

He placed his right hand on my thigh and ordered me to remain silent. I was sleepy but confused.

And then he touched me.

I got scared but I could not do anything.

I was powerless.

He told me in the morning that I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone and that it had to be our secret.

Now there he was: lying unconsciously. So powerless.

I stepped closer towards his bed and stared at his closed eyes. “Hi Uncle Dan, it’s Jamie. I hope you can hear me because I need to tell you something".

Gently, I whispered: "You fucking deserve this”.

Jakarta, 9 May 2013.

Written during Jakarta CouchSurfing Writers' Club under the theme of "The Lowest Point in Family".

Elephants never forget


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