Is There More Than Just Survival?
“He seems normal, back to normal now. God, I do wish I had a working thermometer”, putting the back of his hand up to Frank’s forehead. Frank had had a fever the night before. “I think you’re right, if he had still had it by this morning, I was going to break open that last packet of paracetamol we had, but now we can save it because we definitely won’t be getting anymore anytime soon,” Daria says wrapping his arms around Jeevan pecking him on the cheek “You did a good job, honey”.
Jeevan smiled and released a sigh of relief, grabbing Daria’s warm hands he gave it a light kiss as she walked back to the living room. Jeevan whispered, “He’s just like his uncle. It is funny, all those years ago when Frank and I were in the apartment he told me “there’s just survival out there, Jeevan”. This very line has lived with Jeevan for a long time and for a long period of time Jeevan has thought that Frank was wrong and that there is not only survival outside the apartment. Despite this ultimately being true, sometimes it's just about surviving and being able to live on.
Watching his son running around Jeevan felt a sense of warmth. “Frank” Jeevan calls out to his son, “go see if your mother’s hungry”, as he waddled off to see his mother Jeevan saw the shadow of someone, he had been thinking quite a bit about lately. It was his brother Frank. The memories they will always share, barely submerged.
Jeevan rarely thinks of his old life anymore. Although recently, the last conversation he and his brother had been replaying like a recording.
“Eventually we are going to have to leave you know?” Jeevan said. Frank looked right past Jeevan at the window, to the lake, and the cold blue sky. Rolling himself up to the window ledge, he said “I don’t know where I’d go, how I’d do it”. Jeevan explained to Frank that he would manoeuvre his wheelchair through the snow-filled roads of Toronto. Frank scoffed.
“Have you seen those roads out there, Jeevan? Plus, what would be out there anyway? I am not an idiot, I’ve heard the gunshots. I saw the news reports before the stations went dark. I remember what it was like in Afghanistan back in 2007-2010. As long as I live, I don’t want to see another warzone …never again.”
“There is still a world out there…outside this apartment,” Jeevan said. Frank scoffed however he admired Jeevan’s optimism. “You don’t understand what I’ve seen Jeevan. When a city goes to chaos, when civilisation falls, it becomes a warzone, and a warzone is a selfish place. Its everyone from themselves, no-one will care about you unless you are their loved ones. I still remember that poor little girl sitting on the side of the road, she found a piece of half-eaten bread and was dusting it off, speck by speck, when a grown man came and stole it right out of her hand. I will always remember that.” Jeevan looked at Frank still determined that there is something to live for out there. “I think there’s just survival out there Jeevan. I think you should go out there and try to survive”.
Jeevan looks down at his feet, quietly whispers, “I can’t just leave you here”.
“I can’t go with you, if I do, I’ll just end up killing you. At some point along the road, we will get attacked and you will protect me, I’m sure, or at least you'll die trying and I refuse to let that happen. Do not worry about me, I have given it some thought. I’ll leave first”.
“I think the bread is still too hot Dad, we’ll let it sit for a bit longer,” Frank says pulling Jeevan back into reality. Jeevan looks like his son turns to his parents for an instant and just briefly, the way the light caught him, he saw his brother.
In some ways it seems that they are living for Frank, hoping that he had made him proud, made his sacrifice worthwhile. From all of this, Frank sometimes still reminiscences on Frank’s last words, “There is nothing but survival out there”. As much as Jeevan disagrees with this, sometimes survival is all that matters. These memories that Jeevan shares with his beloved late brother will always be here, barely submerged.