• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 06
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Biscuits and Drawings

It was during supper, supper my mother and I had made, that the car came to take her away. My father sat me on his knees and said she was in pain but not the kind of pain I could see. I asked him whether she’d suffered a cut on the inside.

“The doctor will let us know,” he said. “The doctor?” I said. “But Mummy doesn’t like doctors.” “The doctor will make her feel better.” I looked at the picture of the weeping woman above the sideboard, the tears running down her face, the napkin she stuffed in her mouth to muffle her sobs. I placed myself inside the picture; I felt I was taking a small share of her pain.

Two nuns had come inside to get my mother. She ran around the table. I could not take it. I ran upstairs to my friend Elaina’s flat. “Wash your hands,” Elaina’s mother said, “so germs don’t get in your stomach. Hurry! Elaina’s almost done dinner.” “I don’t want dinner,” I said. “I want to live in your house.” “Oh, darling,” she said.

She made Elaina and me sit on the rug and told us a story. I didn’t like it that much. I never liked her stories; my mother’s were so much better. Sounds of screeches and cries rose up to us. My father came to get me. Everything around me was gray, as if all energy was absorbed from me, as if an achromatic chaos infected me. I thought: this is not me sitting on my father’s lap; perhaps I am dead. My brother went around the house looking for my mother with his thumb in his mouth. He began to cry, so my father comforted him. I told my brother he mustn’t cry or he might make me cry too. He ran off to play.

I ran the kitchen after that. My brother complained often that I hit him. Elaina said that too. “Use your words,” her mother told me one day. “Elaina said my eggs were burnt, ” I said. “It’s not burnt, only extra fried.”


Biscuits and Drawings

It was true that I was not taking rubbish from anyone if they wanted to eat what I'd made. Turned out I wouldn’t take even my father’s jokes about my cracked eggs and runny curries. He knew that I’d lash out at him too.

We visited my mother every Saturday. I took biscuits and drawings I’d made of her and me holding hands and saying I love you to each other. But when I gave it to her I couldn’t remember a single instance when she or I had said those words.

My father eventually remarried and stopped coming. His new wife replaced the faded picture of the weeping woman with a set of four black and white landscapes.

I hung up the discarded Picasso print above my desk. People thought I was being sentimental, but I knew I’d be loud without the napkin stuffed in my mouth.