August 1st Place Thwarted

THWARTED                     796 words

Avarice, covetousness, acquisitiveness. I still remember words despite what Angela implies about my memory.

Once Angela, my nephew’s wife, would just imply, hint, infer that I was becoming senile but now she has become impatient and states outright to my nephew Jack that it is high time I was moved somewhere safe. ‘She keeps misplacing things’ Angela complained to Jack in my presence.  I don’t even have a name now.

Asim means protector and it is a fitting name for my neighbour.  I have watched him grow from a shy lonely young refugee to the confident young man he is now. My skills developed over years of English teaching were a bit rusty but it was so satisfying to see Asim’s language improve so quickly with our regular lessons.

Asim and his family are now my only close friends. Jack is my only relative.

‘Jack is weak and henpecked’ I told Asim when I was complaining about Angela’ s campaign to move me from my home. He was so proud of his response that I didn’t correct him. ‘Jack should grow some testicles,’ he had said emphatically.

Angela had been horrified when the Bashir family moved next door. ‘This was such a good neighbourhood. I hate to think what the property values will be now’. Angela is confident the house will soon be hers and I watch her examining my possessions, already sorting them into keep or discard piles in her mind.

Lately my belongings have been turning up in strange places. My house key that had hung on a chain inside the bedroom door had been found by Hasim, after a lengthy search, tucked inside the pantry cupboard. One of my slippers was found in the soiled clothes basket.

I told Angela to watch her reaction and her expression was so sympathetic that I wondered how her acting career had failed.

‘Poor Harriet’ she said. ‘You must be so afraid of being here on your own in this big house now that your mind is beginning to fail. I’ll talk to Jack about those nursing homes we mentioned. Remember the brochures I left with you?  You haven’t lost them as well I hope.’

Angela stood at the window and watched my friend Aidara taking her clothes of the line.

‘I worry about you living next door to that family’ Angela said in her pseudo sympathetic tone. I thought I saw one of them in your yard when I arrived.’

Perhaps Hasim tidying the garden, I thought.  Because of Angela’s blatant racism I had been careful to keep my friendship with the Bashir family from her and Jack. It was in fact more than friendship. I had come to depend on Hasim and his parents as they provided the help and companionship I certainly didn’t receive from Jack and Angela. They had called me Teeta from early in our relationship and I loved being referred to as their Nanna.

Jack worked away in the mines for long periods but Angela had little excuse for her lack of caring. Only lately had she stepped up the visits which suspiciously coincided with the sudden escalation in the number of misplaced items.

I lay back in my armchair now and listened to Angela prattle on. ‘I don’t know why I moved to the unit. I so long to have a garden again and the body corporate manager is so difficult.’

I settled back in my armchair, let my head drop back and closed my eyes. ‘I wonder what Angela will secrete away this time?’ I said to myself and watched through half closed lids. Only a minute later the TV remote was pushed well down between the cushions on the couch.

‘Don’t get up Harriet’ Angela said. ‘I’ll let myself out. It would be safer if you let me have a key so that I could come and go without disturbing you. I’ll talk to Jack next weekend.’

Hasim soon appeared. ‘Well Teeta, what’s gone missing this time? I’ll set up some  cameras tomorrow and we’ll see what Angela’s up to.’

And we did clearly see Angela on her next visit as she carefully secreted my reading glasses in the desk drawer while I made our tea.

‘So what now?’ I asked as Aidara, Hassim and I watched the video that evening.

‘Do you have their emails?’ Hassim asked and I showed him the entry on my iPad. I was so proud to have mastered modern technology with his help.

‘Why don’t you just send a copy to Angela,’ Aidara suggested.  ‘She will always wonder if Jack received a copy and knows about her behaviour.’

Jack will receive a copy, I decided. From my solicitor when he tells Angela and Jack that I have left the house to Hassim.

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