I make myself believe that I clearly remember the day Pikku disappeared. I remember the bright rays of sunshine that shone through our windows. I remember the smell of pancakes wafting up through the steps into our room. I remember mummy and daddy talking loudly, about something, something inconsequential to the memories of that day. I remember Pikku lifting my blanket and peeping inside, grinning. Her front two teeth were missing. All I saw were pink gums, bright blue eyes and flushed cheeks. Her brown hair fell in ringlets around her chubby face as she tickled me and ran down the steps giggling. I ran behind her, laughing loudly, “You chump, you absolute chump, I am going to get you.” I shouted. This was our weekend routine.
It always took me a while to settle into the skin of the elder brother, a whole two and half years older. Now that I am an adult, I realize how easy it is for a child to forget, forget that he is growing up.
Pikku disappeared on a Sunday, Sunday afternoon; a bright, sunny day, with everyone out there on the streets enjoying the warmth, after a really, really long winter. A day where nothing could ever go wrong; a day where adults don’t want to listen to the number of small coffins that Syria has to produce every week; a day when the thought of Trump ruling America does not sound so bad; a day where everyone hopes and prays that they stay in their safe, safe bubble of small happiness.
On a day like that, Pikku disappeared. And everything went wrong.
After breakfast, a breakfast where mummy and daddy hardly spoke, my sister and I took our cycles and went riding on the streets. We had become oblivious to our parents’ shouting matches and then the deep silences. Now that I am older, I know that those silences were the kind, where the tension could’ve been cut through with a paper knife. But then at the ages of six and eight, Pikku and I wouldn’t have known marital tension had it hit us on our face.
Just like the standing instructions we had received from our parents, Pikku and I circled our block, never more than half a mile away from home. Never out of sight from each other. Pikku’s, pink cycle with pink shiny tassels hanging all over; and my blue Spiderman cycle trailing behind my sister. We rode, we raced and we teased each other as huge jacaranda trees covered us in unending domes. And their lavender flowers lined our paths, welcoming us on a grand adventure.
At the age of twenty-two now, I have taken to study psychology, especially Freud and Jung. I hope, in studying the human mind, I can find answers to what happened to my sister. Mummy doesn’t approve, not of my chosen field of study, but of the fact that I still hope to find answers, find what happened to Pikku. Daddy, I don’t know what Daddy thinks, we haven’t heard from him in four years.
Carl Jung says, “Everyone knows nowadays that people ‘have complexes’. What is not so well known, though far more important, is that these complexes can have us.“
House no. 26, is the house abandoned, stuff of nightmares. At least that was what the teens on our block would tell us. It was rumoured to be haunted, that dilapidated building with a crumbled roof, decaying yard, broken down doors and windows. Even on a sunny day like that one, it stood shrouded in darkness. As though it had summoned its own private cloud, private in its loneliness, in its mourning. I am sure there were facts initially, that turned into rumors, rumors that turned into stories and stories that turned into legends. The kind of legends that had kept me awake many, many nights, staring at Pikku’s ever so slightly breathing body, encased in a pink blanket. Sometimes, those nights, I would find Daddy leaning over Pikku’s sleeping frame. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he would caress her legs underneath the blanket.
Those were the nights when I was left wondering, why didn’t he do that to me, why didn’t he love me, like he did Pikku?
Mummy had once told me, one night; a night five years after my sister was gone. That when they had brought Pikku home from the hospital, one day after she was born, I had locked myself into the bathroom and refused to come out, until they took the ‘monster’ away. I had thought Pikku was a monster. Later when I would see every one fawning over Pikku, her chubby, ruddy cheeks and clear blue eyes, I would stand in front of the mirror and stare at my autumn skin, like falling leaves, and black eyes, hoping and wishing why I did not look more like Pikku, like my dad. Why did I look like mummy?
Maybe that was why Daddy loved her more? She looked more like him and less like mummy and me.
Freud says, “Children are completely egoistic, they feel their needs intensely and strive ruthlessly to satisfy them.” I guess that ego was what got into us that afternoon.
As Pikku and I crossed House no. 26, Pikku heard a whimper, followed by a wail. It sounded a lot like an animal in distress. I heard it too, but I chose to pretend I did not. My sister was adamant, hell bent in fact, to rescue the animal in distress. She imagined a puppy, lost in the big bad haunted house without its mother. And Pikku started crying.
Now I know, I was older, I know I needed to be wiser, but I could never resist my sister’s tears. They fell like dew drops off a flower’s petal. And her red cheeks puffed up, until I said, “Yes, you chump. Lets rescue some animals!”
As I write this, my memories of that day, memories of Pikku, memories of my childhood, just like Professor Summers has asked me to. I try hard to recall the inside of house no. 26. Not that I don’t know, how it is. I have visited that house often while growing up and now more than ever as an adult. But here, here on this page I want to experience, experience what it felt like to enter our very own, famous haunted house as an eight year old.
We entered house no.26, through the front gate. It was dark inside, darker than a house should be on a bright day like that. I could barely make out a huge living room, entry towards another room, right on the edge of the living room. Massive stairs that looked like they would crumble should a butterfly sit on them, dominated the living room. There were no colors, bright or otherwise, there was only rot and decay on everything that my eyes could decipher. I guess my sister saw exactly what I did, because she held my hand, in hers, tight.
“Pikku,” I said irritably, “Let go, it hurts.” She whimpered and let go of my hand. We tried following the sound of the wailing animal. It seemed to be coming from everywhere, and nowhere. My legs strained to run away from that ominous place, run and never come back; not even ride our cycles in front of that house again. Yet, I persevered, persevered to hear those whimpers of a trapped animal. After some moving around and craning our necks at odd angles, we decided that the animal was trapped upstairs.
“We need to do this fast, lets run up and cover all the rooms. The sound will be louder once we get closer.” I said. Pikku agreed to the plan, she was just glad that I did not suggest splitting up.
We ran up the house, sure to be light footed. We were careful in keeping our legs in the less decaying parts of the staircase. In the third room, on the right we saw kitten stuck between window-panes, a broken glass, sticking out of its thigh. Pikku immediately picked it up, with no concern for her white tee. She handed the tiny thing to me and the message was simple, “We get it treated at the doctors, and then we keep it.” She said, “We will name it Sunshine, like today.”
I smiled at my sister, at her kindness. Sunshine was lucky to have found Pikku, I thought then. Something on the glass windowpane caught my attention just as I was about to turn around. A shadow passed through the glass on the windowpane. Someone had gone past the door behind me, someone really tall, someone dressed in black, someone who didn’t walk but floated. Pikku, who was facing the door, stood still, her face white and mouth open. My stomach sank, sank into pits deeper than the swimming pool in our school. We were being haunted, haunted by the ghost of house no.26 and we needed to get out of there, and get out fast.
“Run Pikku, run”, I screamed. I held Sunshine in my arms and ran down the steps, I looked behind me only once, Pikku was following me as a dark shadow raced towards us, closer towards my sister than towards me.
Sometimes, I wonder what would’ve happened had I allowed Pikku to run before me? What would have happened had we never entered House no. 26?
Pikku would still have been here.
Pikku running behind me, with her face white and breath heavy was the last time I ever saw my sister.
Freud says, ”The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.” I don’t know if my memories of that day, my memories of that house, my memories of losing Pikku forever, are true. Sometimes, I believe that it is our dreams that tell us truth. And sometimes I dream, more often now because now I am trying to find the truth.
In my dreams I see Pikku, running behind me, trying to catch up with me, asking me, begging me to slow down; just as the dark shadow closes in on my sister and absorbs her in its blackness. Sometimes in those dreams, I scream and I cry, sometimes I wet my pants, sometimes I see the face of that dark shadow, a face that belongs to the twenty-two year old me.
Professor Summers says that the only reason that I see myself in the face of that dark shadow is because of the massive guilt that I have been carrying for fourteen years. Although, I am not so sure.
Men are more moral than they think and far more immoral than they can imagine. – Sigmund Freud
I believed for a long, long time that the ghost from House no.26 got her. Until we found Pikku, rather until a hiker found Pikku, in the woods right behind our small town. One year after she disappeared.
The killer hadn’t even bothered to bury her; he had just left her there rotting stuffed inside the hollow bark of a tree, covered with dead braches and leaves, deep into the woods. Scraps of her white tee, jeans, bones and her brown hair that hung in dying ringlets, all that was left of Pikku. There were anthills made on different parts of Pikku’s body. The autopsy report stated that she had multiple fractures in all of her limbs and collarbone.
Of course I never saw it, my sister’s body. Mummy and Daddy protected me from that. I heard snippets of conversations, from our neighbors, sneaked a look into the investigating officer’s report. By the time I was twelve I was smart enough to know that no ghost would have raped and then strangled my six years old sister to death.
The police thought, that it must’ve been some passing pedophile that got Pikku. Some neighbors suspected other neighbors; my friends still believed it was the ghost from House no. 26.
Jung says, “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people. “
I guess that is the reason I turned out unnatural, at least that is what daddy used to call it when he found out. Mummy, she just prayed, prayed hard to her God, Buddha. It was only expected that after what happened to Pikku, I wouldn’t continue being a believer; I wouldn’t continue staying straight. I lost my virginity when I was thirteen. Lost it to Mr. Wiggs, our neighbor from across the street and enjoyed it. Maybe because he was the only one who listened, he was the only one who cared.
Daddy, rarely spoke to me after Pikku was lost, I think he blamed me for losing his precious daughter, his reflection, his seed.
My affair with Mr. Wiggs lasted for two years, in that time I not just continued to lose pieces of my virginity; I lost my innocence as well. By the time I was sixteen, I applied for emancipation and left mummy alone to deal with the existence of a shattered marriage and lost children.
I have been going a lot back there, back into House no. 26. In hopes that my subconscious would trigger something, anything that might give me a clue of who would’ve killed Pikku.
And I am, I am remembering snippets of that day, things that would help me put lost pieces together.
Like the fact that mummy and daddy were fighting about Daddy’s new friend, a lady friend.
Like the fact that I saw Mr. Wigg’s car, a red jaguar missing from his yard, when we left for riding our bikes.
Like the fact, that while I ran back home on foot, Pikku took her bicycle before she disappeared.
Like the fact, that three days after Pikku disappeared, I saw one pink tassel lying in Mr. Wiggs’s yard, just before he scooped it up and took it inside.