‘Tis the time of heart palpitations and declarations of overt love, and yet, despite my four-year old relationship with my man the things that make my heart skip a beat are not what one would probably expect.
So what makes my heart flutter, and miss that periodic thump?
Hearing my name shouted from loud speakers; that gives a shock to my system.
Answering the phone and realizing that the bank is on the line; that makes my blood run cold.
Sitting in the passenger seat in my boyfriend’s car turns my blood to haemophiliac liquid, green in substance and acidic. He speeds at 50kmph within the confined three-metre space between cars and slams on the brake when the car in front is two inches away. He swerves, honks his horn like a maniac at the driver who was taking his time at 59kmph on a road with a speed limit of 60kmph. He spits obscenities. He shouts at me for screaming too loudly as I helplessly express my terror. Then parks his car and returns to his normal humane, sweet self again, previous aggression forgotten.
The sound of my mother opening the front door before any of the chores are done, while the beds are still unmade or the dishes still not washed, while a heap of week-old clothes is still piled on my bed – that brings my blood-pumping muscle to a halt. If you are not from the same heat infested, overtly catholic and conservative region where I live, this might be harder to understand. I live with my parents. In my country, living with your parents at twenty six is considered normal, expected even. Only a husband can whisk you away from the nest without bringing forth the wrath of the grandmothers and the debilitating disappointment of both doting parents.
But while I am a walking, talking, thinking adult everywhere I go, I return to the snivelling, innocent girl the moment my foot steps onto my parents’ threshold. It’s a common affliction, and those still living with their parents beyond the age of twenty-one might understand me better than those who wallow in their own independence. This affliction conveys itself in various forms; bickering with the brothers on who’s turn it is to do the dishes; struggles over the remote control when a match and a romance are on TV at the same time; listening to the nagging when the brothers have sat at their PC all day and did “nothing useful”; the nagged concerns that the food is getting cold; the nagging when a bag is still lying around where it shouldn’t be, the nagging, the nagging, the nagging.
And that is why my heart skips a beat when the key goes in the lock and previously mentioned chores are still undone. The awareness of the oncoming incessant nagging drives the three of us, my brothers and I, previously rational, adult human beings, in a frenzy to complete all the chores while my mother climbs the three flights of stairs that would bring her to the front door of our flat. This takes no longer than twenty seconds, but thankfully that time is getting longer – mother is getting old. We make beds, shove clothes in closets, put dishes in cupboards without drying them first. During these crazed, frenzied moments, it always impresses me how warring factions on the sibling front turn into perfect allies; the teamwork in these instances is impeccable.
The key enters the lock and mother slowly opens the door. We run to our posts – sofa, bed, desk – and strive to look nonchalant, holding our breath – hiding the rapidly rising and falling chests – betraying no signs of sudden activity.
The door opens. She enters. “Why is that carpet sideways?” the shrill voice asks.
My brother sits decidedly silent at his desk, studiously ignoring his throbbing knee from when he tripped on that damn carpet in his rush to reach the desk in time.