The Past, Explained

The Past, Explained

By Norhan Khaled Mohamed

My boy, a child of many words, none verbally uttered. I sit by the same window every day, with a vacant mind and a hollow heart, expecting his much yearned for return, but he never comes back.

My eyes dive into the perennial horizon of the Hundred Acre Woods; his favorite abode during comely disports. As an infant, he used to wander through the woods, and when asked where he’d go there, “I’m going on an adventure!” would be his despotic reply.

The only time when he ever seemed to smile was during those innocuous excursions of his. They worried me much, but he always came back. Sometimes, I’d find injuries of a quite odd nature on his unsullied little body, yet I never questioned those; child’s play is known for its injuriousness.

He never talked much, even compared to most children in his age group. When conversed with, he’d usually avoid direct eye contact and would lose interest rapidly. He hardly even conversed with me, yet a mother’s heart beats with the love of her babes.

His happiness was most apparent during the evening hours when he returned from the Hundred Acre Woods. Though he barely spoke a word, he had an eccentric habit of arranging his stuffed animals in a pedantic manner and then proceeding to write in his little journal.

A journal so dear to him that he allowed no one to trespass near it, often flinching and failing when that occurred. One evening during his silent repose, I slipped into his room unheard and fettered with his segmented almanac of sheer genius.

Indulging myself through the poorly written passages of an infant, I couldn’t help but smile at his innocuous imagination. The beloved creature had created his own utopia in the Hundred Acre Woods, inhabited by none other than his stuffed animals whom he had subsequently named.

Each toy had an entire page dedicated to its elaboration, accompanied by a faulty yet vivid illustration. Christopher had arranged their profiles in alphabetical order, quite germane with his systematic idiosyncrasy.

I spent the night in a state of irrevocable fascination at his infantile creativity. With Eeyore, a donkey of melancholic disposition who viewed life in a sort of pessimism; Piglet, a tumultuous little pink pig who had severe pangs of anxious paroxysm; Rabbit, a yellow bunny who obsessively tended to his garden; Tigger—intentionally inscribed with a double “g” apparently—an attention deficient miscreant; and Pooh, a yellow bear overly debauching in pleasurable honey binges. My Christopher presided over his miniature state.

Jocosely, I giggled in mirth at his sweet creations, and then I kissed him (receiving no response as expected), and close the door on my darling child deeply slumbering.

At his usual examinations, the doctors would often compliment him for his laudable intellectual capabilities. But when the time came for cognitive social development examinations, they’d reprove him for his general obdurate nature. He’d never respond to them, and when asked the silliest of sentimental questions he’d give no reply either.

In vain I’d try to explain the child’s quiet temperament, yet they held strong faith in the fact that My Child had social impediments disadvantageous to his current development. They advised to have him moved to a boarding school.

Life is but a conglomeration of choices. It’s either we choose wisely and without regret, or allow impetuousness to conquer our actions and be filled with remorse later on. My decision, macerated with pity as it was, forced me to agree to their deciduous promises; Christopher was going to start attending a boarding school as soon as was granted.

His departure was dismal though he refused to show so.

The Little Creature asked for an hour in his own Wonderland before going, I impulsively agreed to that also. For hours, he’d been gone, so were his valued stuffed animals, and this was the last I had heard of Christopher for eight years to come.

A child of his childhood bereft, a mother of her infant deprived, thus sang my reiterated melody. For eight years he wouldn’t write, for eight years he wouldn’t visit, for eight years he was but a haunting memory.

Two weeks ago came the day when I’d receive news of my long lost son. A phone ring erupted through the serene quietude of the empty halls. Out of mere shock I rose to answer. A highly reverenced Mister Jonathan had called, being the bearer of dark news and having had no former acquaintance with me, he spoke directly and in concise words: my son, aged sixteen, was found in his dorm room hanging by a rope of his own making, surrounded by nothing but his valued stuffed animals.

My mind rises into timorous convulsions when this memory I recall. I run to his room only to find those same animals where they have been last placed by him. Horror-stricken I walk closer to his beloved “Pooh Bear,” I hold it in my fragile hands—now shaking with terror—a sound comes forth, “I love you.” And I weep.

I even found myself chuckling at the silly stretches he does while waiting to start the next run

University Runner Ups

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