BAGGAGE GIRL CHRONICLES

Here’s another one from the archives (about 2years ago). Enjoy.

In our family portrait we look pretty happy-P!nk

I saw how you looked at him mummy. I saw how perplexed you were by that man we met at your favorite store. I saw how your beautiful face lost color. I saw how the usual animation of your facial features waned- how your eyes dulled, and your cheeks grew taut, and your smile turned upside down, and your skin looked moistened, kind of like that of someone who had just taken hot tea in sunny weather. For a moment… for a moment I saw deadness in you. The second time I ever saw deadness in you. The first time was when daddy came back home late, and you did not talk to him that night, remember? You did not talk to him that whole school term actually. I remember because that term I borrowed myriads of books from the school library. Since there was no conversation in the car, I’d read stories like they were Cinderella’s horses, like if I didn’t finish them fast enough they would turn into rats. That’s not the only reason I loved stories. I loved them because for that period of time I would be engrossed in them, my worries about you and Daddy that plagued my mind every minute would be paused, and I would be… peaceful. I got 39 out of 40 in my English composition paper that term. Rosy said she wished she were me. I looked at her and started to smile, but I changed my mind instantly and laughed. I was scared that if I smiled only, Rosy would see. She would see that that smile was fake, and that I might as well have taken paper and drawn a skull parting its jaws and given it to her. I was afraid that if I smiled only, my eyes would stay open. It would put her at risk of having to figure out if mine were eyes or just hollow unalive orifices in my face. Figuring that out would have been harder than figuring out number 28 in that Math paper we did, and I did not want to do that to her, you know. She was my friend. I got 39 out of 40 in my English composition paper that term, and it was your fault, you and daddy’s.

That’s a long time ago though. That was before I learnt to check my hair before I talked to boys. That was before Rosy and I stopped spending time together. It wasn’t a fall-out.  When she’d find me reading during tea-break, she’d say hi excitedly and I’d reply with genuine contentment at having seen her. That was also before I realized how beautiful I was. I always knew I was beautiful, but I did not know just how much, and I loved it. I loved wearing dressy tops and little bows and changing my hairstyle every now and then. I think you and Daddy worked things out. It isn’t as simple as before, because sometimes I feel like if I checked our chests, I’d still find that scar staring back at me, malicious, and with blood gleaming scornfully inside it, but I’m glad we are happier. I’m glad we are a family, and that we seem to have grown an attachment to each other, a fondness that will never go away. I love how daddy does not hide his affection for you; sometimes it looks like gratitude, but I wouldn’t know. I love how you laugh at his jokes, and how you’re there for him, and how you know what he likes and what he doesn’t. Most of all, though, I love how your essence seems to calm him down, seems to balm his worries in life, seems to make him know that nothing else matters.

The man- Phillip, right? That’s what you called him. I remember how you said hi nervously and told him it had been long. Even for those two seconds you said hi to each other it was awkward, the greeting was labored, and you miraculously managed to fit in quite a long silence within those two seconds. I’ve always known you’re a super-hero mum, but there are things you pull off that are too amazing, even for a super-hero. He was with a woman- stunning. She had two children with her, about twelve and ten years old. The two of you did not introduce the rest of us. When we walked away you said he was just an old friend. If I met Rosy though, my face would not look so sad, and I would not spend the rest of the day participating distractedly in conversation.

I saw how you looked at him, mummy. The image stuck in my memory, and it scared me that it reminded me of how I look at Gerald. I recognized that sadness that seemed to arrest you and forcefully embrace your entire being. The way he said, ‘I’m glad you’re happy’ while holding his wife, as if trying to tell you, ‘I’m sure you can tell I am’. I recognized that seething arrogance in Philip that I’d recognize in Gerald- the kind that makes you think of a snake spitting with its fangs out. There were so many questions I wanted to ask you, but I knew you wouldn’t tell me. For you it is always noble to be discreet. Sometimes though mummy, I can’t tell if it’s discretion, or just protecting the people that hurt you. When you think about it, your discretion normally gives them more impetus to take advantage mummy, and it makes me feel so bad.

I wondered if he told you to stop being so uptight, like you could go to a switch in heaven and have them make you an extrovert. I wondered if he told you that he’d be dressing you in future so he can show you off to his friends. I wondered if it incensed you that he needed you dressed up to meet his friends, and if he thought the reason you did not dress up so well was lack of taste rather than lack of money. I wondered if he’d told you he wanted light-skinned children. I wondered if it occurred to you that that might be a hint that he would prefer you with a bit lighter skin tone, since he was dark himself. I wondered if, like Gerald, he once told you that you did not make enough effort to comb your hair. I wondered if only your body made him run mad and if the only time he was not mad at you was when you were making out. I wondered if when he told you he loved you, you felt like it came from a desire to make other women want him because he was oh-so-(spitting)-sweet. I wondered if, you wished that he would fall for another woman, even for a second, so you could run… and… be alone.

I wondered about so many things, and I wished that you would tell me. I wondered why you didn’t tell me. If it weren’t for how strong my experience with Gerald had made me, I would be angry with you. I would be angry with you and at your discretion. I would be angry that you knew about the Philips and Geralds of the world and still you let me walk into the shark’s jaws.

All that doesn’t matter though, mummy. I know you know you have done well for yourself. I am proud that you know you have. When I grow up, I want to meet Gerald and hold face like you have. I want to meet Gerald one day and know that I made the right choice to kick his arrogant self off my range of view. When I grow up I want to keep going to my favorite store even after I meet Gerald at it like you do.

I saw how you looked at him mummy. I saw how unpleasantly perplexed you were by that man we met at your favorite store. I saw how your beautiful face lost color. I saw how the usual animation of your facial features waned- how your eyes dulled, and your cheeks grew taut, and your smile turned upside down, and your skin looked moistened, kind of like that of someone who had just taken hot tea in sunny weather. For a moment… for a moment I saw deadness in you.

 

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