Note: It’s an ongoing story and you should read Part One before reading this.
I blinked, once, twice and willed my brain to wake up. I was feeling drowsy and a part of me was still stuck in the dream.
“Oh, good you’re up,” my wife said, “don’t waste time sitting there. You need to hurry or else we would be late.”
“Late for what?” I asked confused, “it’s weekend.”
“Don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten already,” she was annoyed, “we’ve to leave soon if we want to reach your cousin’s house in time. Don’t you remember?”
“Oh, right,” it came to me then, “it’s her wedding. Just give me fifteen minutes and I’ll be ready.”
I hurried through my morning rituals. There was no time for breakfast but that was okay, I could have something on the way. It was five hours drive after all.
“You should’ve woken me up, earlier,” I complained to my wife because it seemed that we might not make it in time.
“Don’t blame me,” she said, “I did try to wake you up, twice actually. You are the one who refused to budge.”
“Sorry, it’s just that this is a big deal for me,” I said with a sigh, “everyone will be there and you know that I haven’t seen any of my family in two years.”
“I know,” she said softly, “you worry too much.”
“Well, can’t argue with that,” I said with a smile this time.
“There is nothing to be worried about. It’s your cousin’s big day. I’m sure everyone will be too focused on her to pay you any mind. Besides, families are weird, no matter how much time passes they’re still there for you at the end of the day. I’m sure all will be well. It’ll be as if no time has passed at all.”
“Thank you,” I said. I was grateful for her attempt at easing my worries.
“You’re most welcome, Mr. Arshman,” she said and we were both smiling now.
She was right, I had no reason to worry so much. Yes, it was true that over the years I lost touch with my family and didn’t bother to connect with anyone. However, it didn’t mean that I stopped loving them or they stopped loving me.
“Were you ever close with your cousins?” She asked.
“Oh, yes,” I said, feeling nostalgic, “we were really close. We grew up together, did a lot of things together, went to the same school, college, and even worked at the same places. They were my best friends and I loved each and every one of them. Our parents were also close. Those were simpler times.”
“You’re so lucky then,” she said, “I don’t even know all of my cousins.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said, “that’s why this day is so important. I haven’t seen them in a while but I miss them. Anita’s wedding is a perfect excuse for me to see all of them in one place. It’ll be fun.”
“I’m sure it will be,” she said, “tell me more about your home town. How come we never visited before?”
“Oh, you know,” I tried to deflect her second question, “life happens and you know how busy we are. It’s not easy to take time off… you know how these things are. Besides, the truth is that most of my family doesn’t even live in Yani anymore. Only a few second or third cousins are still there. Everyone else moved away, to different countries and cities. After my parents’ death, I didn’t have any reason to return.”
“Isn’t Anita your first cousin though?” She pressed.
“Ahan,” I said non-committedly.
“She’s still there.” My wife wasn’t ready to give up that line of questioning.
“Well, the last I knew she was in Italy,” I explained, “but she returned. My great aunt had left her the house she owned. If I remember correctly, she never sold it and still owns it. Maybe she decided it was time to come back home. Who knows?” To be fair, I really didn’t know much about my aunts, uncles, cousins, and their lives.
After that, we mostly drove in silence. I was deep in my own thoughts and Susan also didn’t bother to engage in conversation. Maybe she realized that I needed time to sort out my jumbled-up thoughts.
She was the best thing in my life. She always gave me what I needed, space or time. Somehow, she knew me better than I knew myself. We had been together for a little more than two years and married a year ago. One blissful year, I couldn’t have asked for a better life partner.
This was the first time she’d meet my family. She must be nervous too but she didn’t show it. Her uncanny ability to remain calm no matter the circumstances, was one of the things I loved about her. I was the exact opposite; little things had the ability to make me anxious and let’s not talk about my panic attacks.
“You’ve reached your destination.” The GPS robotic voice brought me back to the present. I looked up and there it was, my great aunt’s house or rather a mansion, standing there in its full glory.
To be continued…
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