The Magic Pen

Rebecca Huggins

When I was ten, my mother died of a horrible sickness that had plagued her ever since our move to Gordes, France in 1933. We owned the little bookshop on Rue du Belvédère, and lived in the small, one room apartment above. On hot summer nights, under the starry glow of the French sky, my little brother Tomàs, my grand-mère Abril, and I would sit at the window, listening to families and couples laughing contentedly as they headed home for the evening. I often wondered what that contentment felt like, being in a family that was blissfully whole, and not missing any pieces. My family had just emigrated from Iran, known then as Persia, where my father had been a professor of French literature at the newly built Tehran University. Things, however, in Persia were never easy, and my mother, who was born in France, sought refuge in her homeland. So we returned to France by her will, and only three months later, she passed away.

Death is a confusing thing, particularly for a child. Yet children have one thing that many adults do not; forgiveness. My father had a great deal of difficulty dealing with my mother’s passing, and had ever since, buried himself in his work in the shop downstairs, coming up for quick meals before returning to his office. Yet it was clear that the pain of losing the woman whose life he had held so dear had merely left him gripped with such sorrow, he hardly knew how to live without her by his side; and it was clear, though he would never admit as much, that a part of him hated her for leaving him there, alone in their bookshop, forcing him to move to a country he did not know, and then abandoning him. And it was difficult for him to forgive her.