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My Angel, My Mother

I was seven when I first learned the universe lies inside your calloused hands. I am twenty-one

when I am reminded of it.

It is one of those days again: a crimson concoction of distress and disorder, of echoes and

bellows. Home metamorphoses into a decomposing wasteland, leaving in its wake the remnants

of a juvenile innocence. I feel the walls reverberate in a cacophony of noise, disintegrating into

rubble before my very eyes. It is a peculiar thing: to be an outsider in your own body, to watch

your life deteriorate from an alien perspective. Hope perishes in the bleak hours of the night —

until it doesn’t.

I see the gray half-moons under your eyes: a telltale sign of the weariness that has engulfed your

being. Resentment courses through my veins at the ruthlessness with which the world has treated

you, metamorphosing that ebullience of yours into a profound sort of loneliness. But there you

stand — my angel, my mother — as glorious as ever. I peek at your moonlit silhouette from

across the room, gazing at the way you hastily wipe those gossamer tears. I urge you to take a

breather, to let that guard down for once in your life. Making dinner, you say, is more important.

It is almost too beautiful for a moment like this one: the qorma chawal on my plate. You’ve

always been the greatest cook. I muster a smile to acknowledge your efforts — always my

superhero, my Mama — but I can’t seem to force a morsel of it down my throat. Unacceptable,

you say. I watch as you grab a handful of rice, telling me the monsters under my bed will eat me

alive if I don’t finish my food. I involuntarily let out a laugh, and you look as if you’ve

conquered the world. Reluctantly, I chew and I swallow, a soft silence filling the otherwise

repellent room with a comforting hum. You know I’m not much of a talker, so you let some

ridiculous reality show fill the gaps instead. I’m grateful for it — and for you. Dinner’s over, and

I feel that mammoth lump in the back of my throat again: a beastlike entity, a visceral sensation.

You somehow notice it before I do, gently pulling me into the silken blanket of your lap and

whispering honeyed lullabies into my ear. This time, I let the waterworks burst.

You gently brush away the hair on my forehead. I don’t remember falling asleep.

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