“THE FAMILY PORTRAIT”

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. With your last family portrait, I can say less.

It is Eid-ul Fitr, when families and relatives gather in the same house. Feasting and chatting, exchanging news and taking group shots. Sometimes they will trade each other some or share them on social media.

In general, it is the same every year.

“I wish he were still here.”

My beautiful wife, now looking much older. Tired and sadder too.

Honey, I’m here, I wish I could let her know. Can you feel me?

“Group shots!” somebody calls out. I feel grief distort my smile, realising what they all always try to conceal.

It is not just my jaded wife. My kids are emotionally-distant too. Their eyes no longer fool me despite their smiles.

The unhappy Andhara, despite her relentless effort to keep up with her appearance. I have learned long enough about her verbally-abusive husband. If only I were still alive, I would slap his face for calling my daughter a dim-witted, bitchy wife. This coward has even addressed my grandson a ‘faggot’, only because he cries like any normal little boy.

Andro, always busy earning more money since his wedding. Some people say his son looks like me when the baby boy laughs.

And Ariana is still single. She once confessed to her mama that she was afraid of getting married. She said she would never put up with a husband like the one his sister is with now.

God, how do I convince her that she should not be? Can someone make her believe that she too deserves love…and that she has always been loved?

All in all, they seem to always know how to conceal that. The camera snaps, capturing their genuine-looking smiles…like all real families should be.

R.

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