I met the news of Benazir Bhutto's death with resignation and disgust. What was Musharaff going to do? Wisely and graciously hand over the government to democracy?
I was surprised then, at my reaction to my 85 year old landlady's words.
She comes out of the living room. The news is still on the TV. " That woman in Pakistan, she was standing up, in her car, with her head out of, oh, you know the top of the car, the part that opens up, the, uh..."
"Yes, the sunroof. Anyone from 25 or 35 feet away could have shot her, or even someone up close with a gun, anyone could have shot her, she was just a few feet away from the street. She was right next to the street. She didn't have anyone guarding her. She should have been more careful...."
"She asked for protection from the government, Jane. They wouldn't give her any."
"Well she shouldn't have stuck her head out like that."
"Jane, she was murdered."
I'm surprised tears are welling up in my eyes. Jane retreats into the living room. She comes back out a minute later.
"She didn't appoint a successor. Someone in that position should have appointed a successor..."
I feel my throat tightening. " She was murdered, Jane."
Why is she doing this?
"Yes, but, she should have appointed a successor."
"You're blaming the victim, Jane"
"People in a position like hers should..."
"Well, then, DAMN HER!" I'm losing it. I cannot understand her harshness or stubbornness. She has strange streak of meanness I just can't stand tonight.
"SHE WAS MURDERED, JANE!"
She goes back into the living room, subdued, but still protesting. " She didn't appoint a successor..."
I don't know where all this has come from.
She is no match for me, though.
She is a genuine New England WASP, the cosseted, only child of a couple who had her very late in life. I've never seen a photo of them looking anything but geriatric. In the family photographs she is obviously a treasured child.
I, on the other hand, was the middle child in a barely functional Irish Italian family. My sister was 13 when I was born, and has never forgiven me for that, and my brother was born 18 months after me. And he was a boy. I had to stand up to a mean, drunken bully of a father every day of my life. My mostly disinterested mother left me alone, except when I wanted to leave home, and my brother and sister's main sport was, well, me. I volunteered for the family sacrificial altar at a very young age, drowning in Catholicism. I figured, that if I didn't have any needs, if I never asked for anything from anybody, maybe, I could save the family.
So this little interchange is nothing for me.
I get up and leave, though. I've had enough tonight.