Well, I suppose you’ve heard the news.
My boy's been arrested, and he’s not talking to anyone. Not even me. His mother, for heaven’s sake.
I can imagine the gossip in the village market this week. I bet they’re lapping it up, aren’t they? Especially that bitch Katy from the bakers. She must be having a field day. She’s always been jealous.
Our boys were born on the same day, in the same hospital. Did you know that? And, if you wanted proof that there’s absolutely nothing to all the rubbish about star signs and horoscopes, it was those two lads. They grew up just a few blocks from each another, too. Matt was a loud, annoying child as soon as he was old enough to kick a ball around in the back streets. Always making a racket with the other lads after school when my boy was trying to read his books.
Not that it’s surprising. My son had my undivided love and attention, while Katy had five other brats to take care of. No wonder that Matt went feral. Even now, he’s nothing more than a glorified barrow boy, for all his millions and that awful, extravagant house he’s built just outside town.
I can’t help wondering what I did wrong. How I failed my boy. He had everything he ever wanted growing up - not that he ever asked for much. He was clever too, too clever for those idiots they called teachers at the village school. How else could he have possibly have been ‘just’ an average student?
So how we did end up here, with him sitting in prison and refusing see anyone? I wish I knew.
Personally, I blame that lecturer at college. Filled his head with all sorts of ideas. Introduced him to unsavoury sorts who filled my nice, clean house with smoke, loud music and long conversations late into the night. Eating my food without even a “thank you”as if I was some kind of skivvy serving at the table of their ‘higher cause’. They sat around talking about equality and fraternity – but who did the washing up when they’d all passed out on the living room floor? Yes, you guessed it.
And then there was that strumpet, always hanging on his arm. Stroking his hair like he was her special pet. Like he was her property. Not even she had the common decency to offer a helping hand when I fetched and carried as they plotted late into the night. Playing the Lady – like I didn’t know where she’d come from, or what she really was.
But did I ever complain, or leave them wanting? No. Not once.
Let’s face it, they were the first group who ever really befriended him, the first friends he’d ever had over for a meal. I could hardly turn them away, could I?
The only one who showed the slightest decency towards to me was that Jude. A strange lad. Always so intense, so much in earnest. A little bit too eager. A little bit too fey (not that he stood a chance with my boy). But to give credit where it’s due, Jude was the only one to speak to me like I mattered. His praise of me as “the woman that made the man who leads” us was almost embarrassing at times. Almost.
I wonder what’s become of him now?
Sarah, I want you to do me a favour. When they ask you what you know about the whole thing (and let’s face it, they will, everyone knows you’re my favourite cousin) just tell them that he’s a victim of wrongful arrest. That it’s all been a huge mistake, it’s a conspiracy, and that he’ll be out soon. That one day, they’ll be proud to tell the world that he came from THEIR village.
And if my mother asks you, just tell her that her grandson has gone abroad to study for a few years.
Please write back soon, and let me know what that fishwife Katy has been saying. I wouldn’t wish ill on anyone, you know that, but so far as I’m concerned she can go drown in all those fancy cushions her loud-mouthed son has swamped her with from the leftover stock from his import-export business.
And just one more thing? Can you drop this cheque in the collection box when you go to church on Sunday? Just make sure you leave it open so everyone can see who it’s from.
Meanwhile, I’ll give my boy your love when he finally agrees to see me. And I’ll let him know that you’ll have a plate of your famous almond pastries waiting for him when he gets comes home.
Because he will, of course, be coming home.
With love,Your cousin, Mary.