Mother never returned from buying bread for our breakfast. She simply never returned. She told me she was going to the mall behind the park. The park five minutes away, lush with carpet grass and frangipani flowers. The park still swallows memories. Mother is now a memory, just like Sumbo. When I can fall asleep, I and Sumbo are playing in the park. I hope mother returns, Sumbo never did. Mother says Sumbo is in heaven, walking on streets paved in Gold, singing in a choir. I didn’t tell mother Sumbo hates singing; she wouldn’t sit with a choir because she loves to be stubborn. Mother wouldn’t have listened; her eyes were red, like the apples she made Sumbo eat every morning. I patted her back.
When I kept on waiting for Sumbo to return, Father told me she’s dead. I felt better, the frangipani flowers died once and they grew back. Sumbo just needed time. Father tried to explain about how she had sickle cell. Her blood cells were abnormally shaped and struggled to pass through her veins. Father went on and on. I’m not sure I understood what he said, but I believe him. Sumbo is stubborn, she isn’t a normal child. She masterminds all the mischief and then groans in pain when we are caught. Mother never spanked her; Sumbo was as fragile as glass. I want to hate her for leaving, for leaving me alone with mother and her red apple eyes. Mother doesn’t speak of Sumbo. No one really asks about her, not even Aunty Maria who massaged her veins when she cried. Mother still remembers her though, I know because I listen through the cracks in my room door. Mother has a ritual when it’s dark, she turns off the lights and cries to God, she mentions Sumbo through sobs. I don’t think God loves mother very much. It’s been 5 months since mother has been crying to him. Father never lets me cry for too long, maybe our heavenly father is different.
The cracks in my room door know everything. They know Father didn’t want Sumbo, I heard it through whispers. Mother told Aunty Maria that father blames her. Father doesn’t want another child, he has a healthy child. I don’t feel so healthy. Mother always sobs; Father doesn’t know the pain and joy of childbearing she repeats, he wouldn’t understand. I didn’t too