He came out of nowhere: drink spilled on my dress, profound apologies from the drunkard, irritation on my part, an offer to buy me a drink, cursing and insults, more apologies, forgiveness, mindless flirting, lust, infatuation, love, and from that day on, he became mine. It was less than a few weeks and before my hostel room became his new home and a few weeks earlier when his world became my home. Daylight would find me drowning in thoughts of him while night would find me buried in his embrace.
He said he was a part-time writer, and I soon found out that the other part was dedicated to abusing any substance he could get his hands on. He would spend days trading with alcohol, marijuana, heroin, ecstasy; exchanging his consciousness for a little relief. I was fighting a losing battle, trying to get him to reason and change, for my competitor lured him with promises of refuge from his demons, something that my tears and ultimatums could not match.
However, in the brief moments of sobriety his gentleness would shine through the bitter cloud that engulfed his soul. He would apologies, makes promised, display genius in his writing, speaking vaguely of a harrowed past, and in conviction of my love I learned to love both the saint and sinner.
I was soon spending my allowances and school fees to get him help; rehab, prayers, sometimes drugs. I burned bridges: family and friends who couldn’t believe the depths of my so-called descent. But because I could see what they refused to or couldn’t see, I became an island, and Jano was my lone survivor.
The remnants of the sun were starting to devour the sky in a crimson haze when we arrived at the house. Jano held my hand tight as we were led into the living room, his aunt and with a nervous rushed to the kitchen to get us drinks.
We settled into black leather seats that were adjacent to a large screen that hang prestigiously on the wall over a crowd of equally sleek-looking electronics, the smell of cigarettes and roast meat wafting in the air vaguely reminding me of my own father.
On the white wall hung pictures, Jano and his father, Jano and his siblings, Jano and his mother…his mother, the reason we were here. He only ever talked about her once, which was a year ago, when on the edge of breaking his four-year sobriety. He came home with a bottle of whisky in hand, glassy eyes and dazed expression.
I quickly snatched it from his hand, inspecting it for a broken seal, ready to reprimand him, but all he kept repeating was, ‘she’s dead’. It took a year of grieving before Jano could function on average normalcy. He blamed himself, he blamed his addiction, but most of all he blamed his father.
There was never a good word from Jano about his father that came out of his mouth, sober or drunk. ‘He made me like this. He gave me no choice. He turned everyone around him into a monster’, was always his view on the subject. He didn’t go for her funeral because he didn’t want to see his father, something he regretted every day since, for the memory of him mother came to haunt him every night in cold sweats and bad dreams.
So when he was informed of the reading of her will, Jano took the chance to honour her memory and visit his home on last time.
Jano moved closer to me until our knees touched, I gave him a reassuring stroke on the shoulder. I could tell he was nervous, having to face his father after years of hatred, fear and anger; words had been said, love had been lost, emptiness feed on the endless spaces in our hearts; I better than anyone knew the strain of burning bridges.
His aunt walked in from the door on the right followed by a small, slightly slouched man. His cheeks dropped over his round face and his large watery eyes stared at us in disbelief from behind his round spectacles. His balding head was covered in sweat as he delicately walked towards Jano.
Jano’s body stiffened and sprung up as soon as he saw him. His eyes bored furiously into the approaching figure, veins jutting from the left side of his head, fists clenched. The old man stopped a few inches from Jano, stared at him intently then threw his short arms around him in a tight embrace. Jano inhaled deeply, a look of confusion at the gesture, and what seemed like tears formed in his eyes.