I never considered myself anything special, not really. Well, perhaps there was something special about me, but it was never one of those things which would turn me into the center of attention or make me “unique”. One can say that my most “special” quality was to be the most proper girl I had ever seen: while my friends and classmates were lying to their parents to throw yet another party I was quietly sitting at home going through yet another boring school book. When they were complaining about the messed up school system because they failed yet another test, I was getting straight A’s. When they were trying to convince their older friends to get them some beer, I never drank or smoked. In short my absolutely boring attitude was my main special trait. And I have to say that I was always more than alright with it.
After all, I was the pride of both of my parents and the daughter to brag about to anyone they knew. I remember how many times I could hear my mother boasting to our neighbours:
“Your Billy isn’t doing that well at school? Ah, we don’t have this problem fortunately, Siya gets straight A’s all the time!”
“Mary ran away from home? Oh no, Siya would never do that, we live as a very happy family!”
And well, I was never extremely vain but I have to admit that those things did make me proud. I loved my family more than anything else, and I wished to be the daughter they always wanted.
My mother told me how my very existence was a miracle. The doctors never believed in the possibility of her getting pregnant and yet here I was, alive and breathing despite all their fears. I think that was probably why I was so desperate to be perfect for my parents: I wished for them to have the child they had always wanted, for them to live this dream of a perfect loving family without any issues. And I have to say that I loved it all as well.
My family was more important to me than anything, and my parents were the people whom I loved the most, but it didn’t mean that I was lacking in my social life. I had several friends, not many, but enough for me to entertain myself on a rainy day, and I treasured them dearly even if spending time with them was never the number one thing on my to-do-list. They were kind and nice to me, and, what was more important, they accepted me as I was, without demanding me to go partying or sneaking out of the house at 2 AM to go on a date.
We spent quite a lot of time together walking and chatting but well, I could never understand why exactly people want to pick up their friends and go do all of that “crazy stuff”. That was just not me. I would choose a day with my family over a day with my friends anytime, especially with how rarely my father used to be at home.
While my mother was a simple nurse and could spend most of her free time at home, my father was in the military, and hearing him knocking on our door was always a great joy. I remember running to him cheerfully as a child, and hugging him as tightly as I could, as he would chuckle and pick me up. He was always a very serious person but I always knew he was just as happy to see me, as I was him, and he always made sure to make it home for my birthday.
My dad wasn’t the softest person in the world either, in fact he was rather strict and demanding (no doubt his military career added to it), but he was one of the most honest and fair people I’ve ever met. If he wanted to punish me for something, it was always because I was wrong. He would never accuse anyone of something they wouldn’t do, or accept someone’s word on the matter without proof. Neither would he give people more trouble than they would deserve and even though I hated all those days he forbade me from going outside for some kind of mistakes I made earlier, I respected him greatly, because I always knew he was right.
He would give me some minor military training while he was at home, and despite being a girl I loved it all, always asking him for more tips and advice. Well, I guess that was one more special thing about me: I loved his military lessons. In fact, those were one of the best days we spent together and they made me feel secure about protecting myself in case I needed to (not that anyone ever tried to attack me, being the quiet homegirl I was, but it never hurt to be ready for anything), and well, it was simply cool to brag about before my friends.
The other thing my father taught me about was cars. He once confessed to me that he always wanted to have a son, and even though he loves the fact that I turned out to be a girl, he simply could not help it but still wanted to share all of his favorite subjects with me. And well, I actually didn’t mind. After my father’s tips on fixing our old car I could best any guy at my school with my extensive knowledge, and it also came to be incredibly useful in my older days, when I finally had to drive.
And well, I could never understand why my girl-friends complained about how “cars were so boring” and “guys are so obsessed with them”. I liked fixing cars with my dad. I liked chatting with him as the both of us were stuck in our garage on a hot summer day trying to figure out “what that rattling sound was” or “what did mom do to it again”. It was fun, and once again those were one of the best memories I’ve ever had. They made me who I am and they made me happy to be a part of my family.
That wasn’t all of our “father-daughter” time though. Far from it. We talked to each other a lot, we watched games, and we played all kinds of sports, with him never taking advantage of my height or inexperience, and always playing with me as fairly as he could. The competition we had was always exciting and fair, and I could never get enough of it, forgetting about how many hours would pass until my mom would finally yell at both of us, telling us to shower and help her prepare dinner. I can also recall how we went fishing once but none of us seemed to enjoy it that much so we never tried to do it again, but aside from that every time my dad would take a leave and come home, it was a small holiday and I never wanted for it to end.
I loved those days dearly, and now looking back at us, cheerful and full of joy, in the old photographs I desperately wish I could go back there.
While my father was often a role model for me, my mother took a very special place in my heart as well. I remember visiting her after school, day by day, hurrying to the hospital she used to work at and smiling as I entered the lobby.
Many kids hated spending time with their moms, especially if it would mean going to their job and spending several hours listening to their stories and work experiences. Me? I enjoyed every single bit of it. I always considered my mother one of the wisest women who ever lived, even if most of her wisdoms were very casual, and not worthy of writing a book of philosophy or a history novel. My mother always tried to teach me everything she knew, to give as deep of an advice as she could, and to share all of her experiences with me, making sure I would be always prepared for anything.
While my father taught me how to protect myself and be ready to survive any potentially unpleasant situation, my mother, being a nurse as she was, explained to me everything about treating wounds and performing the simplest (and sometimes more complicated) steps of first aid. It was often tedious to learn, and it always required some bits of practice, but the result was always worth it, and after talking to my parents for a couple of times a week I felt ready for everything, feeling like the smartest and most well-adjusting girl who ever lived.
It was useful and enlightening, but never as enlightening as the other part of my visits to her: the talks about our Indian heritage. My mother, it seemed, was able to talk about the culture of her family for hours, often forgetting that her coffee break had come to an end and she had to hurry back to her post as soon as possible. She talked about anything: culture, food, clothes… even religion, and our original traditions. It was fascinating to listen about and I always felt that with every little bit I learned from her, I added something new to myself, discovered the little parts of myself I was absolutely unaware of, and at times I never wished for it to stop.
While I loved both of my parents dearly, and my family was incredibly important to me, it wasn’t always perfect. We had our rainy days, and more often than I would wish to, I saw mother and father arguing endlessly, each of them seeming just as stubborn as the other, and none of them wishing to give up their principles. To my great sadness, the reason for their arguments was often myself, especially the way my father was treating me during his “harsher periods”. His methods of upbringing a child weren’t always kind and compassionate, and my mother often raised an issue about it when he once again was going too far in her opinion. They yelled a lot and they usually argued in circles, but when I tried to interrupt, feeling guilty for being the reason of their quarrel, my mother would always reassure me that it was for my own good.
“There is nothing to worry about, Siya,” she would say. “I have it all under control.”
And then I would have to join in, convincing her for yet another hour that what dad was doing was absolutely alright with me, and that I was not the weakest girl in town. And it was alright. Despite his harsh military-like attitude I can never say I was feeling unhappy, or treated badly in any way. In fact, I enjoyed it, probably more than I should, and was often thankful for him shaping me the way he did. After all, even if he did overstep his limits sometimes, or forgot that he was not surrounded by soldiers, I would simply tolerate it or wait it out. I would never complain, especially not to my mother. Everything I wanted was for my family to be happy. All of them. Without arguments, without yelling… For us all to simply be together and enjoy our lives.
Was it too much to ask? I know my parents always tried their very best to keep it this way, and I would do everything I could to help them with it. Even in his harshest moments my father’s goal was to always give me the best future possible, and make me as decent of a person as he could, and I appreciated that even if he went too far. I would tolerate for as long as needed, it was a big deal after all, and that was as little as I could do to avoid arguments and keep my family happy and together. It was more or less alright for quite a long time… I mean, of course we had our ups and downs, every family does, and it times it wasn’t easy. But we enjoyed each other’s company and overall I can say that my family was one of the happiest families I’ve ever known.
At least I was sure that all of us were content, and I could easily brag about the time we spent together. I was proud of my achievements to keep us all together, and I am sure my parents felt the same, after all, they too had things to brag about, and I saw them doing it not once but several times, which filled my heart with joy. We were truly happy and it seemed it would always be like that until… one dark night.
I was sixteen at the time, and my father was away to serve our country, just as usual. My mother was in the kitchen, humming some kind of song to herself and digging in the fridge for sausages. We were going to have a movie night, and she seemed to be preparing yet another Indian tale for me to be entertained with in case the movie would turn out to be too boring. It was all wonderfully planned and I felt relaxed and somewhat sleepy, finishing up some latest bits of my homework and preparing to go downstairs to help her with snacks.
Then I heard the noise… First I decided that it was my mother, dropping something out of clumsiness and hurrying to pick it up, but the voices that followed were definitely not hers. They did not belong to anyone I knew and her scream became the very last sound of her voice I will always remember. It made my heart freeze and till today I shudder remembering about it. Now my emotions are also filled with anger but back then… I simply wanted for her to be safe. I ran down the stairs, trying to remember every single bit of the lessons my father gave me before departing for his duty once again, but I was too late. My mother’s body was laying on the floor, and the burglars were gone.
I would love to say that time has passed since then, that eventually I recovered, but… that would be a lie. The smiling, hard-working Siya they all knew was gone. And her place was now taken by another Siya, depressed and melancholic, mostly indifferent to what was going on around her… and as more time passed the first Siya faded more and more while the second Siya became the true me.
After the night–I grew to call it “the night”–life was changed completely. All of this pretty family image? It was gone. My mother was now dead and my father… he never completely recovered from the loss. He did not even know the whole truth, but assumed the worst and his mental health broke completely within a week. From what I last heard about him, he needed care himself, so giving it to me was no longer an option.
My father’s family refused me. All because of my Indian ancestry, the one I used to be so proud of, while my mother’s family… they were in India, and while I deeply loved the culture of my mother’s country I was not sure whether I was ready to leave it all and change the world around me completely. So I choose to stay.
Being in the nasty situation I was, staying meant one thing: a group home. And since the choice was already made, I simply went along with what I had to do. Other kids, socializing, spending time together… all of those things were now simply passing by, with me being excluded from them. The exile was more than voluntary choice. I did not wish to be around other teenagers, I did not wish to tell any of my life story to them, and less than anything else I would wish to consider them “a family”.
Eventually I lost even those people who came from the life “before the night”, and became somewhat of a social outcast, and to be fair… I didn’t care. I liked being alone, and the more time passed, the more solitary I became, eventually learning to enjoy my own thoughts more than conversations with others.
That said, I was not happy. Committing suicide and finishing the meaningless lonely life I had was often an idea I pondered in my mind. After all, no one even needed me before. I did not need anyone either, so what was the point of continuing at all? I did not see any reason to exist and be a part of this world, and so… wouldn’t it be a logical choice to just get rid of it all?
It would seem so, and a choice I would probably eventually make but something deep in my soul told me that it wasn’t right. Something stopped me every time I would decide to go along with my depressed ideas and eventually I grew to think that the inner voice I heard in my head that kept me safe was some kind of a sign of my mother. From both of my parents in fact, their care, their love to me. It was still lingering, and I never dared to betray it, I knew that no matter where they were at the moment, their spirits and their love would always want to keep me safe.
Aside from my suicidal thoughts, a weekly therapy sessions became my only other entertainment. They were pointless really, but I visited them as diligently as I could, listening to the muttering of the woman in front of me as patiently as possible and pretending everything she says was important. I cannot say any of those affected me deeply, but they were a change of my usual routine, so I guess it didn’t hurt.
When I say the therapy didn’t help, I mean it. My first thoughts about murdering people came to mind when I was eighteen. I say “thoughts” but they weren’t continuous at that point of time. They came to me as nightmares, every now and then, with me standing in the middle of someone’s house with blood on my hands and with the owner’s bodies around. Sometimes I couldn’t recognize their faces, other times they looked mildly familiar, but every single time those looked like some kind of pictures from a horror movie where I, Siya the killer, would be featured as a main character.
I saw myself as if through someone else’s eyes, standing there… Horrifying and menacing, and yet, no matter how frightened I would get, the nightmare would never stop. One scene would change to another, as the “story” of my murders would get darker and darker, yet I was never able to stop looking. Not until I would finally wake up, shaking and often screaming, staring into the darkness to make sure there was no other me standing there with bloody hands surrounded by her victims.
Those made the years of my high school a little more “exciting” than I would wish them to be, but soon the real troubles struck and I was forced to look for money in order to not starve and handle the very basic needs of human life. Finding a job did not turn out to be as hard as one would think, and soon I was hired as a waitress at the local diner. An awful place, and irritable people… but it was not as bad as I would imagine, and well, it did let me have a free meal or two from time to time.
While at the diner I met a girl. Megan. Or “Megan Brooks” as her waitress’ badge would say. Megan was a newbie and I was supposed to tutor her somewhat, showing her a trick or two and explaining her the art of not being too irritated towards the rude visitors. That said, Megan was a perfect student! She was cheerful and chuckly, always optimistic and never giving up no matter how hard the world would try to put her down. I grew very fond of her and with time her light attitude started to rub off on me, for which I was thankful.
Megan changed my life and at that point I dared to assume that things finally started to look brighter for me. I, for once, had a best friend, a more or less stable decent job and well, the world was going on as it should be. We spent more and more time together and for a while she gave me the hope I lost so long ago. Every time I looked into Megan’s eyes I started to believe in the future and when I looked in the mirror afterwards I started to see more and more of my true, old self showing up through the shell I built around myself for years.
I thought our friendship would be a good thing but eventually it became the very thing that killed Megan. One day her boyfriend (I always hated him) ran into our house and killed her in a fit of jealousy and rage. He said she was spending more time with me than she did with him… and those were the last words he could offer before I ended his life with my own hands.
It felt good… not as good as being with Megan and not nearly as good as the perfect life I had with my family but it brought me satisfaction and soon I understood what I had to do. They all would pay. The burglars who took my mother’s life and ruined our future? They would be the next in line and I had absolutely no doubt that I would find them. If they brought me suffering, and ruined my happiness, they had to pay the price. Such is justice, and I was going to bring it upon them.