“Look, my article came out!” said my sister, a wide grin framed her face. Straightening her injured leg, my mother put on her glasses and examined the piece. “It’s acceptable, but I would have made different choices”, she said twisting her nose dissatisfied; a gesture I knew well. My sister’s grin vanished to a quiet gloom. Nothing is ever good enough for her, I thought, noticing Gaby’s disappointment. My mother placed the magazine on my lap for a second opinion. After scanning the piece, I realized she was right. The article, which was about Gaby’s new recipe, was lacking; taste. It could be better, I thought with embarrassment, but when I saw my sister’s face; my heart wrinkled. All she wanted was our support, thus I congratulated her instead. “You were a talented writer when you were young, Emilia, why did you stopped?” My mother said after my sister left the room. Perplexed, I turned to face her, but her glance didn’t move from the TV screen. It’s probably the Vicodin speaking, I thought. She had never believed I had much talent.
My mother was recovering from a knee surgery and since I was the only child available, I agreed to care for her. We had always had a complicated relationship. We argued for the sake of arguing, and when it came to my talents, her way of doing things was always better. As a journalist, writing was something my mother knew well. She was considered by most one of the best in her field, and I worshipped her; she was my childhood hero. Of course I wanted my hero to tell me I was gifted, but her praises never came. I became convinced that as journalist she was trained to only focus on facts, facts was all she was. As a writer, I wanted more than facts, I wanted feelings. I wanted to discover the mysteries of the heart and all its hues. Something she has been avoiding all her life.
Why say it now?
After my fashion business went bankrupt, I asked my mother for support. “Come home my Emilia,” she pleaded. “You can stay all you want. It was the first time since I left home twenty-five years ago, that I had dared to ask for help. Being the oldest daughter, I had decided that it was my duty to care for everyone. Coming back holding my head down nonetheless, felt humiliating; after losing my home, after watching everything around me collapsed as a line of dominoes, one by one. The only thing left standing was myself, but I didn’t know who I was anymore. My suicidal thoughts grew stronger while desolation inhabited my broken heart. I didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me; least of all my mother.
In a sudden rush of anger, I sprinted from her room. There was this unseen vail covering our scars, and the smell of the menthol ointment reminded me too much of the disease that was our past. I didn’t address it; my disappointment that is. I didn’t know why her comment had opened old wounds, but expressing it would have only made us crash into more walls. Instead, I cling to the only breath of life I had left.
In my room: I sat on a red cushion from an old couch, and began chanting a mantra I had learnt at a Buddhist temple. The smell of old dust from the cushion, mixed with the incense I lit up, helped me relaxed and simultaneously reminisced. I attempted to chant for hours, but disturbing memories resurfaced, making it impossible to continue. Strong visions called my attention, as remembrances I had long bury in the deepest caverns of my heart, fought to break through. After a long struggle I surrendered, and one by one the memories appeared; vibrant as the day they happened. I saw my mother holding a paper, her young beautiful face distorted as she flipped it. “What is this?” she screamed. “This is the worse thing you can do to me. You’re only fourteen and already a whore!”. She must have realized by my perplexity, that I was clueless because she halted and read: “When your fingers caress my shoulders, the earth trembles under my feet; and I am no more”. The words are still imprinted in my brain. It was from a poem I had written about a boy I liked. My knees weakened, my chest heaved. In my mind, the word whore and poor became one. I’m a poor writer, I thought. That day my writing, was no more.
Holding tight the red cushion under me, I sobbed incessantly, grieving the broken dreams of the wounded child. I had stopped writing because I was angry. I’ve been angry for a long time while trying to kill the writer in me. Yes; I was angry, I chose to believe her truth over mine. My writing was not poor, it was poetic and inspiring. My words were not those of a whore either, they were passionate and she knew it; she had always known it!
The tears helped cleared my vision. From where I sat, I could see the starry sky through the window in front. It was the first time in twenty five years that I saw its dark hues without a cloud. I didn’t hate my mother for what she didn’t see. I loved her for bringing me back to the life I once knew. That night, a different light shone on her; It must have been disturbing to discover your first child writings about sex, I thought, and made peace with it all. The knowing that I had something of value to share with the world, brought me back to the fourteen year old girl I once was; full of life and ideas. I had no job, nor a place to live; but I had a pen, my notebook, and a head full of ideas.
I haven’t stopped writing since.