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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Chin

Coming to Grips (3)

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

Those who leave, come back. That's what the old stories say.

When my grandfather died, an enormous black moth arrived at the family house and settled itself on the header of the front door. It was him, his two wives said. I had no way of ascertaining the truth of that, but it was hard to be a sceptic.

The moth hung there through the seven days of his funeral, very present and utterly conspicuous, And then, just as suddenly, after the funeral and cremation, it was gone! All that was left of it was a pale dusting of ash on the threshold; the same grey as the ashes we went to pick through the day after.

Years later, when my god-father left us, another moth arrived. It was a quiet unassuming brown creature which did not flaunt its presence but disappeared quite soon after we sighted it, much like the man himself. So much like the man, it had to be him. And who said that? You, that's who.

You didn't come back though. Not physically anyway.

There was no moth hanging over your casket.

The scientific explanation for the moths is that they're attracted to the smell of rotting flesh. We had you embalmed. So, no smells. So there.

We didn't do the seventh day stuff, sprinkling flour on the floor in the hope of sighting you footprints. But, you weren't ever a great one for visits --- Remember that time my daughter called, asking to bring some ice-cream over to share with you, and you told her there was no one at home for her to chat with. You were right there. She'd been abroad at university all year. She was only home for a month. My daughter, the grand-daughter you brought up! Remembering that, knowing you, I guess, we didn't want to set ourselves up for disappointment. It wouldn't have done; all that dust all over the floor, the whole night waiting, and then, perhaps only cat's pawprints for our trouble.

Maybe, you've gone too far and materializations are simply too hard. Maybe all we can expect are cameo appearances in our dreams, like how I thought I saw you the other night. You were sitting, staring at me, your hands wrapped around what seemed to be wounds. It seemed you wanted to tell me something. But, you did not or could not speak, and your face was a whited out blank whose expression I could not read.

There you were. There I was. But, as you'd said to my daughter all those years ago, there was no one at home for me to chat with.

I guess that was the point. I guess that's what coming to grips is about.


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