His name is Jonathan, but he liked to be called as Gwen. When I was a kid, we frequently visit our aunt’s house because their house was located at the street beside ours. Sometimes my mom leaves us there to play when she needs to do some errands or just let us stay there with our cousins and aunts. I remember one afternoon, I saw our uncle Jonathan sitting with rows of make-up laid on the dining table and a medium-sized mirror in front of her. He took cosmetology in college, but he didn’t get a proper job after that, but he got a job as a dealer for a company for women that sells beauty products, cosmetics, skin care, clothes etc. and then became a Stylist in a salon.
That afternoon, I saw him putting on make-up and we went near to watch him, and then he taught us how to put on a lipstick, I was so amazed at how smoothly he apply the lipstick on his lips, his hands sashayed like a pro and when I was a kid, I envy people who can apply lipstick without struggling.
A year after that, I never saw him again in my aunt’s house, putting on make-up and dancing to Britney Spears’s songs, I also didn’t see him in some of our family occasions. One day, when we went to our grandpa’s house, I heard my aunts and uncles talking about him, my uncle Jonathan, and then I heard words like drugs, cigarettes, and stoned. With the tone of their voices, the stern and flabbergasted reactions in their faces, I already thought that he’s in trouble.
My thought was right, I saw him so different from the day we last talked to him, his face became thin, he became fidgety and his eyes were so deep. I got scared when I saw him and didn’t go near him. He still knows our names but he’s different.
A year passed and my aunt who lived near us moved to a condominium in the city and one afternoon, my Uncle Jonathan arrived, I expected him to be wearing his make-up and a tank top that he loves to wear, but he was wearing something else. He got bruises in his face, humongous wounds in his arm and feet, wound that is as large as an oyster. I was shocked and my aunts too, but there was madness painted on their faces.
I heard that our relatives did that to him, for what reason? That’s something I don’t know until now. But I heard them saying that those uncles of ours were crazy and vile. I don’t know the story behind those bruises and wounds, because I was only a kid, but right now that I met those people who did that to him, I couldn’t say anything more than loathsome.
Years passed and my Uncle Jonathan went in and out of the rehabilitation, but it didn’t help. It was his lack of discipline, medicines and treatments can’t cure someone who doesn’t have the will to be cured. So they decided to take him out again.
Years later my mom came home from Hong Kong and when she’s on her way one morning to the market, to her surprise, she saw my uncle Jonathan meandering around and puffing a cigarette. He didn’t recognize my mom when my mom approached him, he just stared at her, my mom started to say her name and then his eyes widened in surprise and smiled. My mom took him in our house to feed him and asked him to take a shower. He smells bad to be honest, with all the grime in his body and unwashed clothes he’s wearing what else could his smell be? I even stop my breath when he’s near and when I can’t take it anymore, I ran in my room and stay until he’s gone.
He came back for consecutive days, asking for food and my mom always lets him eat, she even give him money so he doesn’t have to walk from his house to ours (He lives with my other aunts) we all expected him to be using the money for fare and food when he’s hungry, but when I came to where he’s living and talked to my aunts who’s taking care of him, I was so disappointed and a bit indignant. I told my aunt what’s he’s doing at our house and that my mom gives him money, she shook his head in disapproval and said “So that’s why he’s got money to buy substance and get himself stoned.” I don’t know what to say, but I know now why he kept on walking.
I told that to my mom and she got so infuriated and being the eldest sister, she scolded him. He answered back to my mom, only that he says things we couldn’t fathom, all his experiences, things that he only remembers, things that happened before and people who did bad to him. My mom then became calm and asked questions about those. He said that he got money and their sister took it and never paid him back, he then fished out a receipt which he thought is a bank check, with his signature and big sum of money written on it. He gave it to my mom and asked my mom to use it. I felt sad because he only remembers unpleasant things that happened to him.
The day after that, he came back and my mom was out to fix some paperwork because she’s about to leave again in weeks. I gave him food and I looked at him while he was eating, he talked like he’s talking to someone else, sniggering, muttering words and then I hear him. “Hi, I’m aunt Gwen.” And then I remember that that’s the name he wanted to be called, but no one calls him that, he then looked at me, yank his wallet out and produce an I.D and receipt again with an amount written. I looked at the I.D, and notice that that was his I.D when he was still working six years ago, I felt utterly crestfallen because he still lives in his past.
He scared me some time when he was taking a shower, I heard him laughing so hard to himself, talking and then he began to get mad, then back to laughing and talking, muttering words all to himself. I heard familiar names uttered while his mad and I thought that maybe, those people have done something to him and he can’t seem to forget that.
He doesn’t go to our house anymore when my mom left for work in Hong Kong, but I always see him in the street, when he saw me walking just in front of him, he doesn’t recognize me. He still wears the unwashed clothes, making him smells so stinky, with a tattered bag in his shoulder which I know that he has his wallet with him containing the IDs and bank receipts he got from the nearby bank, thrown by random people, and an overdone make-up on his face. Then he would pass me and never looking back, but I would look back at him and hear him say to the person in front of him “Hi I’m Aunt Gwen.”