I love sitting on the rocking chair on our balcony. I can look at the entire neighborhood from here. And I love the sound as the chair rocks against the floor. “Khat, khat, khat”, I love to close my eyes and think that I am sitting atop a horse galloping to some far away land.
Suddenly, I hear the agitated voices of many grown-ups together. I look across the street and see that it is coming from Mrs. Pauley’s house. Mrs. Pauley is an old lady staying just opposite to our house. She makes the best cookies and whenever I visit her, she gives me one. Of late though, she hasn’t been baking any cookies. Not since Mr. Pauley “passed away” three months ago. I don’t really know what that means but Mom says that we move on to a better place than this world.
I see some policemen looking very serious bringing out Mrs. Pauley through the door. Is she crying? What is she saying to the men? And why is there a small bag in her hand? I have never seen her going anywhere ever. The only time she would be out of the house would be when she and Mr. Pauley used to go to the Church every Sunday.
I call my Mom, “Mom, come to the balcony. See where Mrs. Pauley is going.”
“What? What are you saying?”, Mom shouts back.
“Come outside now Mom”.
Mom finally comes out and tries to figure what is happening. By this time, I see some more people in our neighborhood coming out of their houses to see what is going on. I also see Mr. Smith. He is the landlord of Mrs. Pauley. He never used to come here before but lately, I have seen him many times here. I don’t like him. He speaks very rudely to Mrs. Pauley.
By this time, I see Mrs. Pauley is walking towards the gate. “Mom, where are they taking her?”
I look up to see that there are tears in Mom’s eyes too. “They are taking her away because she could not pay the rent. She doesn’t have money. I can’t believe that none of her sons helped her. Six sons and not one of them have the good sense to do something for her after all she has done for them.”
I suddenly remember the place where Dad keeps his money and start going inside. “Where are you going?”
“Mom, we can give her the money. Then they will not take Mrs. Pauley away.”
“It’s a good idea honey, but we don’t have so much money as to pay her rent. We can hardly manage ours”, Mom says in a broken voice.
“But Mom, can’t we stop them?”
“I wish we could baby”, my Mom says sadly.
Just at that moment, Mrs. Pauley looks up at me and waves sadly.
Three days have passed since Mrs. Pauley was taken away and it is Sunday. I want to go meet her today. I rush to Mom to remind her.
“Baby, I didn’t tell you but we can’t go see Mrs. Pauley”, Mom says very softly.
“But Mom, you promised”, I wail.
“I know but honey, Mrs. Pauley is no more”
“What does that mean?”, I don’t understand what Mom says.
“That means that she has also passed away like Mr. Pauley. They are together now.”
“Oh that is good then”, I say. Though I will not get to eat any of her delicious cookies, I am happy that Mrs. Pauley is with her husband. She was always happy with him.