A Three-Story Memorial

Written By: Ammara  Saeed

The phone rang and my mom picked it up. A look at her expressions told me that it must be my uncle’s call. My dad suggested a visit to the LongHouse Reserve in an attempt to divert my mother’s attention from the melancholy affairs of her young brother. The azaleas of the Red Garden greeted us all and soothed my mother; pink roses bordered the overhead plantation of the Pink Garden.

The elegance of this estate reminded me of another place…


June 2, 2001

Construction of this building started in 2001. My mom’s brother, my mamoo, provided the money and my aunt’s husband, a construction expert, spent every penny of mamoo’s money on the construction of this house. The wood to be used in the doors was handpicked after spending hundreds of hours. The glass panes to be used in the doors were individually checked to make sure they were perfect and looked uniform. My aunt, my khala, went on to see every light fixture that was there in the city, before carefully selecting the most extraordinary pieces for this house. My mamoo had personally selected the bricks to make sure that they were all of the best quality and exact the same size so that not even a minute deformity would be introduced into this house. The marble to be used was screened for any less-beautiful pieces. The most modern designs were employed for kitchen and bathroom structure, the main door and outer look of the house. This house was the only one in this part of the city to have a garage for three cars. Emerald Zoysiagrass, the softest grass was introduced into lawn. Rows of apple, apricot, peach and plum formed entry-way to the lawn along with crape myrtle. The brightest, most vividly colored flowers with extraordinary scents were planted in the lawn entrance. Azaleas, Orchids, Jasmines and magnolias greeted the visitors of this lawn. A ribbon of white roses bordered the vast expanse of lawn.

It was known as “That House” in the neighborhood.

September 4, 2003

Mamoo inhabited this place. Since joint family system is a common occurrence in our culture, khala was invited to move into this house along with my mamoo. Khala lived in the third story, mamoo lived with his family and my grandmother in the second story and the basement was rented out to another family. Over the course of next two years we witnessed many happy instances, like the birth of my mamoo’s daughter. Khala was successful in opening in her own school. Every time joy crossed our family’s path, people were invited to the house. There were parties in the house, caterers would be employed and the whole house bathed in light. Its clear windows gave a peek of its majestic and elegant interiors to the outsiders.

During our summer vacations we would visit mamoo and khala. We went on trips with mamoo, the kind of trips the plans of which are conceived a day before. In terms of personality, mamoo and khala were like opposite poles. While mamoo was adventurous type, khala liked to plan things out beforehand. Often they had a falling-out because of their personality differences and didn’t talk to each other for weeks. We loved our mamoo and his home mainly because of the vast lawn. We played with our cousins in the lawn all day long. My mom would bring us sandwiches and fresh juice, sometimes freshly made French fries, freshly picked apples and oranges and apricots. We would take rest under the shade of the fruit trees. We were very fond of my mamoo’s wife. Although she was old enough to be our mother, she was more like an elder sister to us. Anything we couldn’t ask our parents, we would ask her and she would sneak it to us-or pretended to.


December 14, 2005

It was winter vacation and we were in mamoo’s house. We were all there sitting in the lounge. My grandmother was taking shower. The day was bright. The sun was shining with all its might. The perfect windows of this house let the light be seen in its purest state. Birds were chirping on the trees. Mamoo made a joke and everybody started laughing. Lounge was filled with the scent of French fries being cooked. We were getting excited. My grandmother finished her shower and came out in the lounge. A tightness in her face was felt by everybody.

My mom inquired if she was okay and she said she was fine. Later that day, she told my mom that she was feeling a lump in her right breast. My grandmother’s family had an extensive history of cancer; her mother and two of her sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer. My mother talked to my dad and immediately made an appointment with our family oncologist. By afternoon they had left for the doctor. They came back at nine o’clock looking very grim and serious. They were holding a bunch of papers. The doctor had prescribed some tests. They went for the tests next morning and by night our oncologists called them. He told them that my grandmother had reached the last stage of cancer and due to some medical complications she had not shown any signs before. He offered to treat her with a drug that was in clinical trials, but my grandmother asked for some time to decide the situation.

What was supposed to be a family get together time, turned into an all-adults meeting about the health of my grandmother. Meetings started behind the closed door of my grandma’s room. The house turned eerily quiet. The same expanse of lounge that hosted parties, now echoed with silence. Even the weather turned grim. Grey clouds covered the entire sky. Birds couldn’t be heard under the thunder of evening sky. Eventually my grandma decided against the trial treatment. She was happy to live whatever days she had left in harmony in her current physical condition.


August 8, 2007

My khala was coming back from another city from a wedding of one of her in-laws. She experienced a shooting pain in her left arm so much so that they had to rush her to the emergency room of the nearby hospital. She made it there in time for a heart attack. Khala was hospitalized for two days. Two days later they came back. Full bloom of flowers greeted them at the door. The apricot tree shed it’s petals for them when they entered.

My aunt didn’t have any children and this had bothered her all her life, but she never adopted one either. She loved my mamoo’s kids as her own, but when the brother and sister had a falling out, his kids suffered too. He wouldn’t let them meet her and she never insisted on seeing them during the grim weeks. The inflated ego of humans did not give way innocence of kids. Ten days after they came back from hospital, her left foot started to swell and wouldn’t stop swelling. A visit to the doctor revealed a clot in the blood vessels of her leg, halting the blood supply. A month later, she died of heart attack caused by the blood clot traveling from her leg towards the vessels of her heart.

September 2014

Mamoo called my mother from his mansion. He asked my mom to talk to his wife’s family, because his wife wanted to divorce him. The news shocked my mother and shook her to the core. Why would she want divorce? We talked to them frequently and they seemed happy just past week. What went wrong in a week that made her demand divorce? Nobody knew answers to these questions, not even mamoo. When my mother asked if they had any fight or any disagreement about anything, the answer was null. They didn’t have any fight or any disagreement about anything. We suspected a psychological problem. She refused to visit a psychologist. Not even a single friend or family member of hers stepped in to deal with the problem. Lack of any kind of support from her side put an end to their marriage. Mamoo received custody of kids, but sold the house due to some financial constraints. The house built on the graveyard of relationships stood tall. He moved out. The smooth and shiny marble didn’t hold him back. The sliding main door let him out without any resistance.

June 2, 2015

The house is sold to another family. My grandmother and my aunt left the world without any imprints. My uncle, wifeless, lives in a distraught mental state with his children, in some other place.

The house still stands there, with all its splendor, magnificence and grandeur.