See you around!
When we lose someone we love, everything changes.
Still in my grief-stricken mode, I don’t know why I switched it on.
Perhaps I was just trying to cope with my loss and hoped to find a few photos that he hadn’t posted to facebook, or maybe a game he’d installed that I could play, retracing his footsteps, pretending to hear his frustrated outbursts (for such a prodigious mind, he sucked at computer games). Just something that could help me forget he was gone, if only for an hour. Or a minute.
What I didn’t expect to find was him.
Our mom and dad had died when I was too young to have really known them, but old enough to need to cling to something for security. Roshan had been it. My older brother quickly became a surrogate parent. And whether or not he’d wanted a six year old girl that followed him around like a loyal dog, he never complained. Sure, he’d tease me and make fun of me and all the rest of older brother requirements, but he’d look after me. Protect me to death.
Unfortunately his death had come unexpectedly, long before his time. A car accident. A drunk driver swerving over and instantly killing them both. And now, at eighteen years of age, I find myself without a parent once again. This time, however, I have no crutch to fall back on. No loved one waiting in the wing to rescue me. Instead, I already see my future: the family house for sale; a job working some lonely diner; coming home each evening to my flat to drown a bottle of cheap wine while my dozen dogs beg me for food.
Why did he have to fucking leave me all alone? Why couldn’t he wait until morning to drive to the shops? It’s a strange feeling to both love and hate someone, especially someone not even alive.
“Roshni, what are you doing on my computer!?”
I almost fall backwards off the chair at the sound of his voice. My mind gets carried away and I look for a ghost flying around the room.
My throat rocks as I say his name. “Roshan?”
“I said, what’re you doing on my computer?!”
There’s a pause.
“Just kidding! Glad you finally decided to have a nose around. I presume that’s what you’re doing? Nosing around? That’s what you usually do, and how I knew you’d switch this on.”
It takes me a moment to realize it was a recording. Relief washes over me, but somehow, at the same time, my heart sinks into my belly. A ghost would have been better than not having him at all.
The voice continues and a video of his face fades onto the screen. I see the clutter of his bedroom and kale in the background, and know he recorded it in here.
He continues speaking as I stare mesmerized at the screen. “If I don’t log on for a week, this recording is set to auto play. It might mean I’m in hospital and I’m fine. It might mean I’ve had enough of you making a mess in the kitchen and I’ve run off to start a new life in Spain, like I’d always wanted to. “
Tears are already welling in my eyes.
“…Or, it might mean I’m dead.” His image smiles gently. “In which case, shit.”
My lips crease into a smile as I sniff back snot.
He leans into the screen and lowers his voice conspiratorially. “I’m going to have to whisper this bit because you’re asleep in the other room, and if you heard it, then I’d have to kill myself anyway. Okay. First, let me be clear here: I love you, sis. The best part of my life — I swear this is true — was getting to watch you grow into the beautiful smart girl you are. You never really knew mom or dad, but they’d be so proud of you. More proud of a soon to be pediatrician than of a computer nerd, I bet!”
“I’m– I’m not even certain I’m going to be a doctor!” I argue, stupidly.
“You’ll make a great doctor, ” he says, as if in answer. “You’ve always had a way with children. They all seem to fall instantly in love with you. And I know it’s a little too early for you to start thinking about opening your own practice, but I’ve left you a little something in a wallet on this computer, to help you do so when you’re ready. Crypto currency. A lot of it. The password is your nickname for me when you were a kid.”
I feel my heart pound. Even in death he’s still looking after me. “bamada” (Baba, Mamu, Dada) I say out loud, remembering what I used to call him when I was five or six.
“Hopefully you’ll never even see this.” I see a tear in his eyes too. “But just in case, hey? ” He places his palm near the camera. “I love you sis. See you around.”
I lean forward and press my hand against his on the screen. Tears drip onto the keyboard.