Monday, July 15, 2013

Becoming My Mother

Every sunday,
I put on an apron and become my mother.
I tiptoe through the living room,
Flip on the light switch,
And skim over the ingredients for lunch,
Contemplating the appetites to serve.

Every Sunday,
I put on an apron and become my mother.
Running water through strands of green,
Slicing and chopping each and every minute away,
Stirring and tasting every second at the tip of her finger,
Eyes lighten up as the extra pinch of salt is dropped.

Every Sunday,
I put on a apron and become my mother.
A glass of red wine with a good movie she wonders,
How'd it feel like to just lounge on the couch, 
Away from the stove and the hot oven,
With the air condition blowing cool air straight at her face.

Every Sunday, 
I put on an apron and become my mother.
The peaceful sound of the ticking clock that she misses,
The lingering smoke from the cigarette that burns itself to ash,
The absence of the occasional resentment of returning loved ones,
The simple joy making plans for no one but herself.

Every Sunday,
I put on an apron and think of my mother.
The burden, the responsibility, the suffocation,
Her eyes, her words, her steamed eggs with soy sauce,
Her time, her wrinkles, her roast chicken recipe,
All that she is, all that defines her,
And I know that I'll never live up to her.
I'll never be my mother
Everything that she was and is.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Chapter Two

"She started to cry. Unable to hold back this continuing sadness that had, without her knowledge, become a part of who she was."

As months went by, she had grown accustomed to how, at the home, days would past by without anyone even realizing it.

Until one unusual morning, when the caretaker gently called her over.
As she slowly stepped towards her, then she took out something that was hiding in her lap underneath the apron.
 “You’re a big girl now. You need to start going to school and learn about things. This is the school uniform, I’m sure that you will look so pretty in it.”
Puzzled, she stared at the tiny stack of faded clothes in her hand, and then at her.

Attending school, she had always wondered how it would be like.
She had stood at the fence and watched him and the other children leave for school almost every day. Her heart had yearned to follow, but her pride would never allow her the permission to say it.
Now that the opportunity has presented itself to her, she was a mixture of anticipation and resentment.
No longer would she have to stand alone at the gate and watch him leave with the others. Yet, no longer would she get to anticipate his return everyday and feel that tingling joy of seeing him walking towards her and holding her tiny hands firmly in his as they walk into the home together.

She is definitely reluctant to give up that odd sensation of his rough palm rubbing between her delicate fingers.

She took two tiny steps forward.
Her hand reaching out, casting a slim long shadow over the apron, as she gently traces the lines on the washed fabric of the school uniform that now belongs to her.
The caretaker looked hard and deep at the face of this beautiful little thing.
Trying to explain the calmness beyond her years that had suddenly overtook the hesitation that was so prominent just seconds ago.

This is not the face of a typical six-year-old.
This calmness does not belong to this delicate untainted porcelain face.
Such expressions should only be seen on grown-ups who had bare witness to almost everything in life.
Yet, there it is now, reflected as somber as a crescent moon on the calm surface of a black lake.

She then lifted the stack of school uniform, turn around and walked back to her bed.
 Leaving the caretaker speechless and lost in a maze of her own thoughts.

“Those moments. Those moments with your hand in mine, will walk with me for the rest of my life.” 

The next morning, he slung his school bag across his shoulder, grabbed his partially filled water bottle and walked towards the gate, expecting to see her there, waiting to send him off as usual.
But there she was, delicately neat in a plain navy dress, the same type of blue that he had on.
She lifted her eyes from the ground and saw him staring at her.
Whether it was the coldness of the morning or the reflection of the gentle morning sun, he could have sworn he saw two rosy blush on her otherwise pale cheeks that very morning.
He smiled, walked over, held her cold little hand, and this time, the two of them walked out of the gate together, hand in hand.

As soon as they reached the school gate, she panicked.
There were too many people around, kids, parents, teachers……
She tightened her grip on his hand, her steps froze as she tried to hide her tiny self behind his towering frame.
Instantly, he sensed her anxiety, he could feel her timid hand shaking and sweating in his. Reassuringly, he held her hand just a little bit tighter, turned his head around, and flashed her another one of those smiles that is just comforting enough to ease any fear or doubt in her.
He could feel her grip loosen.
“I’ll walk you to your classroom,” he asserted with a smile on his face.
She nodded, vaguely.
As she took quick tiny steps behind him. The morning sun shone brightly along the long school corridor, casting warm lively shadows as they walk hand in hand along the winding path to their classrooms.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Chapter One

She sits there, smiling at the empty seat in front of her.

A man stared at her while passing by.
Another stared at her, then the empty chair in front of her.

Alone at the table, she is nothing, but a pile of ruins.

Alone she stood, A lovelorn bird on a dying branch.
She was six when he first held her hands.

Distracted by the colourful fireworks exploding in the dark blue sky, she loosens her grip and failed to catch the sight of her mother ever again.
So there she stood, amongst a sea of enchanted strangers all but too distracted by the firework display to notice this lost little girl.
She was scared, very scared. Fear was creeping up behind her, crawling all over her skin until the hair behind her neck stands. Her big hazel eyes started to well, but she bit her lower lips and refused to show this sign of fear.
 “A brave princess will never cry,” she recalled her exact words. “and only a brave princess deserves a strawberry ice cream at the funfair tonight.”

“I had a nightmare last night. My heart, it hurts.”

Yet, she never kept her promise. The imaginary ice cream melted, dripping away putrid pinkish tears along with her blurry recollection of her face. The only face that she had known and believe in, nothing but make-up and lipstick all smudged up on a ball of powdery flour.

She stood there the whole night. A brave princess in the cold night breeze.
The sea of faces passed by. Some lid by a flicker of curiosity, some dimmed by a veil of callousness. But none mattered to her, none except his.
The face of a boy who bended over and presented itself right in front of hers. Dark bushy eyebrows that curved awkwardly over a pair of concerned brown eyes. His right palm unfolded itself in front of her, and without a word she placed hers into it. Gripped tight, she knew that she would since follow him wherever he goes.

He took her home. A home for abandoned children like him and her. The adults at the home were deeply puzzled by her appearance, nobody was able to find out anything about this silent little girl.
When she tried to undress herself in the shower, she found an envelope, carefully folded and stuffed inside the pocket of her favourite yellow dress. On it was mommy’s handwriting. She might not have been able to read, but she readily understood the content.

And in the shower, she finally allowed herself to cry.

Him. He became her guardian angel, her knight in shining armor. Most of the time, she refused to be around anyone but him. Her tiny little wounded heart refused to feel safe or at ease around anyone but him. It didn’t matter that she never had a father or brother in her life, to her he was none of these.
When he was away in school, she would sit by herself under the big oak tree beside the gate.
Upon his return, she would walk over and grip his hand tightly and follow him inside.
She would sit quietly at the other end of the table while he and the other older kids burry themselves in books and books of homework.
Whenever he’s done, he will look up and smile at her.
Her face will light up and her tiny hands would stop tugging at the hem of her skirt. He would come to her, and the two of them would sit at the corners of the bookshelves as he recited pages after pages of stories to her.
It was always her who chooses the books, and she never let him read her any stories about princesses and their happy endings.

Some other days they would walk underneath the trees, picking up fallen leaves of different shades and shapes. Whenever she manages to chance upon any uniquely shaped ones, she would excitedly show them to him, and then the two of them would spent the afternoon lying on the floor of fallen leaves, staring at and analyzing the possible shapes of these leaves.
Sometimes he would even spin her a tale or two using these to represent the animals or characters in the story. These are the only times when he could see her showing any expressions that bear any faint resemblance to a smile.
No exchanges of words were necessary. Their connection was beyond words.

When everyone else was asleep at night, she would sneak out of her bed and slowly tiptoe to his.
She would stand there and stare at his peacefully closed eyes. Until he stirred and saw her, just a fragile silhouette wrapped by the gentle darkness.
He would sit up and peel back the worn out sheets covering his paper thin mattress, she would then timidly crawl underneath it before he covers it back on top of her.
Both of them would then fall sound asleep, cradled by the silence of the night and, the warmth of each other.
He never asked her for a reason and she never seemed to have found any explanations necessary.

“The world is so quiet. Sometimes, it scares me.” 

The adults were starting to find her relentless silence concerning.

Why is this physically sound little girl not making a sound?
What sort of life was she leading before this and what family did she had or have left?
Was anyone looking for her?

Not him. He understood. He understood the reasons behind her silence.
He knew that she was perfectly capable of speaking, she just refuses to.
He will wait. He will wait for her to be ready to speak again.
Besides, he was never one to care much for words. Words are overrated.
To him, words are instead the source of all miscommunication and misunderstanding. Words are the reason he was here to begin with. Why let words interfere when they were perfectly capable of understanding each other without.
It’s like whenever Miss Carter takes the class to visit the museum. He would wonder off by himself, seeing and experiencing each of the artifacts on displayed by himself, rather than having their stories and his imagination bounded by the explanations and demonstrations from her.

Eventually, the adults cease to fuss over her silence. Everyone at the home had either given up or decided that her disability of speech was just another ironic tragedy.

Once in a while there would be some couples who would visit the home in search of a suitable new addition to their perfect family. Being one of the few younger kids at the home, they would look at her and see a beautiful little girl who would look perfect in a Sunday dress or at a tea party.
The caretakers at the home would then pause and pull these couples aside while trying to explain her condition to them. While these couples would stare at her with the same heart-rending look that she had grown rather accustomed to. Some of them would even walked over and gently touch her cheeks while tears glistened in their sympathetic eyes.
This too she had grown accustomed to. She would usually just stand up and walk away from them. This was the time when the couples would usually move on to other more promising little boys and girls.
She knew exactly what they wanted. But she wasn’t interested. Family is just a promise that could easily be broken, just like any other promises in her life. Big or small.

She sat beside the window, her eyes glued to the outside.
It amuses her how tiny rain droplets could completely change how everything looks.
The usually proud trees would frailly sway along the wind, crestfallen.
The birds would not be hopping around the freakishly brown soils looking for worms, and the grass would no longer look as green.
They used to do this together. Whenever it rains. They would cuddle up underneath a tiny blanket on the couch beside the window. She would even make a cup of warm cocoa and they would take turns sipping from the delicate porcelain cup.
Warm, despite the lack of a heater in the house.
Sometimes, if she’s lucky, or if it’s a very long rain, she would even tell her stories. Castles, princesses and weird horses with horns. The twists and turns of how the kind princess is bullied by the evil queen, stepsisters and witches. Even though her tiny heart would still pound and skip a beat as the princess unknowingly bite into the poisonous apple. But she was never really afraid, as she knows that in the end, the princess would always be rescued by the dashing prince and lives happily ever after…

She shook her head… reminding herself not to remember.
The she shook it again, even harder this time in order to shake away all the fond memories.

“Letting go isn’t a onetime thing. It’s something that you have to do over and over again, everyday.”

 She had chosen to not be a part of her life, so she is no longer allowed in her memory!
From then onwards, she refuses to remember, or even think about her.
She let the emptiness she left behind consumed her, she intended for the hatred she harboured for her to function like one of those wooden dusters that can be used to erase everything off a blackboard.
She was something that she wanted to erase, needed badly to erase.
Still, she had no control over her mind.
In her sleep she still remembered her.
She would see her standing there as the crowd faded away with the night, arms outstretched and every feature ever so vivid. And no matter how hard she told herself not to, she would still run into her arms and hugged her tight, overjoyed as she hears her murmuring the words My Princess…
She would then wake up feeling guilty… and emptiness would once again fill the rest of her day.
She knew from then on, that these dreams would haunt her for years to come.