Monday, September 05, 2011

“If you had had an easy childhood, darling, you wouldn’t ever have anything to write about.”-- Rebecca Wells*

I wrote this last dawn. It took me a day to post because I'm toeing the sleep-over-what-you-write line. I even e-mailed a friend asking if I should post this before I decided to, so... yea, no blah-blah build-up at all! :)

Maybe not 'ever since I was a little girl', but through much of my adult life -- fine, all of it! -- I've had a complex relationship with my mother. My childhood, since they're always telling you to begin at the beginning, wasn't bad. No abuse, no contemplating suicide, no abandonment issues, nobody died; I was a laughing, bouncy kid -- like Olive in Little Miss Sunshine (see pic), only slightly more off centre and a little bit more cheeky. But when I screw up my forehead and let frown lines dig their nails into my temples, when I train the lens of my recall power to not waver, to stay, like a command to a dog, I can in a flash conjure up the days when the going wasn't Olive, if you know what I mean.

And I mean this of the last ten years -- these complexities I speak of as if complexities weren't a word arrived at consciously. Well, more than ten actually -- I turned a year older just the other day.

I'm not sure how I've gotten started on this right now. I don't write about my mother. It stays tucked in, the cosy demon scrap book of memories. But there's obviously something eating me if I'm up at 4:something in the morning and I tell myself it's to shut the windows because its raining and because I sleep with them open because I don't like what the AC does to my skin and because the consequence of all this love for nature and love for vanity is going to have me moppin' up rainwater tomorrow morning.

So yea, of course I'm up to shut the windows. Except I kind of like that its dark and there's lightning and ha ha! the crows have had it because it's wet and they have to put off their stupid cawing till the patter stops. Besides its a Sunday and I wish these birds would take it elsewhere, get out of the suburbs. (Dorothy Parker anyone? -- Every year, back comes Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.)

So yea, here I am, sitting up in bed, my beautiful steel lamp turned down to its lowest illuminating factor, smelling my little ring of white jasmine buds for ten bucks lying next to me, and I'm constantly stopping to rub my eyes because the tear ducts are a bit scratchy from my solo sneeze festival some minutes ago. There's lightning outside too, did I mention? Net net: there's a mo-od! And what kind of half-assed wannabe writer doesn't cash in on the mo-od. Either I do that -cash in, or I go eat an apple and look out the window, be wistful rapunzel number one because damn, my hair's growing well.

All of what I've said above is true. And I did go get that apple (two apples -- I skipped din-din). And I did do the Rapunzel thing. I didn't toss the apple core out in the open, even though, I'm such a... a -- oh, aa.. excuse me! jesus! -- even though I'm such a hypocrite. I snarl don't litter to every person who I sense is about to lower trash on to my ground, and yet I've been the most guilty tosser-out of cigarette stubs from my car window when driving, and this is my pathetic new thing.

But back to the mommy issues. My mother's taken to ignoring me. I see this as a positive development (straight out of *Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? -- "Forget Love. Try good manners"/ "The point is not knowing another person, or learning to love another person. The point is simply this: how tender can we bear to be? What good manners can we show as we welcome ourselves and others in our hearts?”).

I think I didn't wake up because of the rain or the window or the apple or the jasmine. Or the sneezes. Although how I would've sneezed if I were asle... anyway. I think I'm up because as a daughter, I'm telephatic. Is that a word? For someone, for a daughter type person, to wake for no reason, thanks to no outside stimulus? I just felt my mother wasn't in the house. I felt I was sleeping in an empty house. That it was dark and raining and, of course, she had to be in her room., didn't she? What else are you here for? But she wasn't. Because she'd left. She had a flight to catch. And she didn't say bye. Not last night when she could've said won't wake you, eat properly, and 'don't act too wild' -- which is what she told me last month when she had a flight to catch and I woke up for a 2-second groggy ok tata bye bye.

No okay tata bye bye this morning. She just left. And if I'm honest, I know I was up a good second before, long enough to catch her at the door, even if I had to pretend that I was woken up by all the pussy footing and quiet lifting of a puny suitcase for a week-long trip. I wasn't woken up by anything other than a restless heart. I am my mother. People ask me are you more your father or your mother? I sometimes wish I could lie. When I was told by an old friend, on the drinky evening of my birthday that there are facets of me that are my father, it topped my evening. That to me was birthday present riiiight up there with my various other thoughtful lovelies -- my baby hydrangea, a native of Nainital that survived the Delhi heat, my big ordinary but beautiful kettle with oil paints of all primary colours in it -- I've always wanted this (thank you, person reader, gift provider; you melted me), my cake, my book giftwrapped in what do you know -- olive paper -- with an orchid on it, my blue-brown-ochre hand-knitted scarf, and my birthday card in which my grandmother, who's mostly given up using pen paper, wrote to me, inscribed my card, called me a name she hasn't 'written' in years, and  if this were to be the, heaven forbid, last card I ever got from her, I'll freeze it and put in a safe deposit and pretend I swallowed the key, like Jerry the mouse did in an episode you can't possibly connect with because you're normal and Jerry's a mouse.

I had a good day, sure. It was fine. There was wine. With fruits in it. Perfect prissy sangrias. The problem is I didn't spend much of it at home. I didn't see my mother, except in the morning. That hurt her, obviously. My parents were asleep when I got back in the evening. But it was something she said later, one little line, her perfect showmanship, an exhibition of the skill that is her laser tongue. That I can remember Dorothy Parker's words but at the best of times not be able to recall exactly what my mother said both fails and frightens me. It wasn't quite you're destroying yourself, but it sure as hell wasn't how was your day either.

And so it is that we're back in the cycle of sharp words and terse reactions. I don't suppose I can blame her for catching a flight and not saying bye. I am like that, too. I am her. I radiate joy like a truck expels diesel fumes, consistent yet toxic. But I can blame her for not processing that everything is a two-way street and that if I have walls that I try to festoon with humour ivy, its just my way of keeping afloat, of not becoming a sobbing degenerate with eternal mommy issues. God knows the truth is closer than that. I just wish there is a force that knows that while I'm fantastically grateful for things happening to me, including right now the awareness of a grey-blue sky, being my mother's daughter is not always one of them. And on some especially impossible days, I'd rather floss my teeth with jute than cross paths with her to say bye.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

be a woman, kiss and make up.

one day, your mother will be gone forever. sorry to have to say this.

- k

Anonymous said...

that's terrible.

terribly written, I mean. all those asides, what are they for? see how aware I am? see how nimble-brained I am? they are distracting and pointless.

Nimpipi said...

K: Tsk! You're making more sense than I like, I hope you know that. :)

Anon: OUCH!:D I love my asides (on a blog) but you might be right. Will be less nimble-brained in future, if I remember to not don't get distracted by my awareness, if that is that what the accusation is.

k said...

yeah N, might have been a bit harsh, but it's true...

Incognito said...

Belated Happy Budday! you shouldnt be doing what your doing on your birthday week/month!
besides mothers and daughters dont fight.

k said...

and, by the way, I don't think it's terribly written so much as badly organized.

cathatfished said...

very raw but very you. very honest. love you.

spbroad said...

Oh well, this shall pass too...we forget that our parents are constantly learning from us too!
I have the most severe mommy issues but for most of our differences I put the blame on us watching completely different TV shows... even our melodramas clash...

Ellie said...

Oh, dear, parents.

In my case, it is best to NOT be like my father. Hard to imagine having a father that is to be emulated.

Sanchari said...

N,

Sounds like the usual love-hate relationships we share with our parents, the complexities of which can only be understood by the people in that relationship. I confer with K. Else, both of you will be waiting for the other to make the first move.

S.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

An interesting post. Do you know what's going to be even more interesting? The post your daughter writes about you.

Nimpipi said...

K: Yea yea, not disagreeing. You're a wise old owl.. =)

Incog: Thank you, love. Birthday week's been going pretty great, actually! About the mother-daughter thing, I thought fights are what define those relationships. :)

Cattie: <3. Yea but very vague and scattered too, na? Guess who doesn't have the balls to take the bulls quite by the horns..

sp: Heh. Mine doesn't even watch TV.

Ellie: tsk tsk... just the opposite huh.. I wonder if they're interchangeable though, whether mommy issues have the same affect on a psyche as daddy issues do.. yes/no/can't say?

S: You're making too much sense! That's what I hold you in contempt for, too! (No but, yea yea, sigh.. i know.. i know ugh)

UB: Must you scare the shit out of me?! I'm having nightmares of a glib not yet foetus barking at me -- in public! I must've done something really terrible. Gosh, poor not-about-to-be-conceived-for-100-years baby!

Miss.Mystic said...

Reminds me of all the times I have stayed up late, the feeling of emptiness with fulfillment. As far as I know moms, I have had one all my life, they don't ignore you the way other people ignore you, they are just waiting for that little kid in you to go over to her and put her in a big tight hug! :) Try it! If it doesn't work I'll get you Creamstone ice cream! :)