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Our mom has gone to the hospital.  We go to our grandmother’s house.  It is far from our school, but nobody thinks we should stay in the house on Green Island with only the amahs.  Everyone is still thinking of the tiger they never found.

I like being in my grandmother’s house.   Titi puts me in her room.   I sleep in the other bed, just as I did when I came here at my confirmation.   Ah Seem is not with me, but now I sit with the grownups at the long table in the dining room.  I get a little juice glass of vinho tinto at dinner.  Titi says it makes your blood strong and is good for you.

Annabelle comes to play with me.  We talk about war movies we saw.   We want to be pilots and fly B52 bombers.  That would be so exciting.  Everyone wants to go to America and see if it’s really like the movies there.

It’s been weeks since I saw my mom in the hospital.


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07. April 2013 · Comments Off on My Worst Fear · Categories: G. 8 years, The Beast

I am playing with my paper dolls on the stairs.  Titi walks in, Ah Ngung behind her.   She starts taking clothes out of the tall dresser that came from our house.   Titi hands the clothes to Ah Ngung, who stares down at the floor.

I hear a wail that wakes up all the fears in my heart.  It is my grandmother in her bedroom.   I know that my mother is dead.

My grandmother’s cries do not stop.  There are other sounds, my brother sobbing, the amahs crying.

I run outside and sit on the front steps.

My mom is gone.

Never again will I see her, hear her voice, or hug her.  Not in my whole life.   Not my tears, not my fury, not my prayers, nothing will ever bring her back to me.  It is hopeless.

Somewhere inside, a void opens.

My tears are useless, but they run down my face like rain.

I don’t know how long I sat there.


06. April 2013 · Comments Off on After · Categories: G. 8 years

After I ran up the aisle and kissed my mother, I remember only that her cheek was cold as stone in winter and that it shocked me.

Someone took me home.   I was not at my mother’s funeral.  They told me that my father was there, but he did not come to the house.

I am not exactly an orphan, but I feel like one.

My older cousin Brites tries to console me.  She is not exactly an orphan either.  Her father, my uncle, died before she could remember him.  When she was little, her mother brought her and her brother to our grandmother’s house, and she did not come back for them.   Brites misses her mother too.

She said, you know what I do?  I take my pillow and pretend that it is my mother, and I hug it.  It helps.

That night, I take my pillow, but I don’t want to hug it.  I hurl it across the room.  I am about to go and pick it up when I remember Titi in the other bed.  She looks asleep, but I don’t take the chance of waking her.  I sleep without my pillow.

I have a dream.   There is a place that does not look real.  It is outdoors.  The sky has grey and blue clouds.   Everything is glowing with a strange blue light.   To the side, I see a stream of people, all dressed in simple gowns, slowly walking past me.   Each person walks alone, one behind another.  They do not look at me.  They look in the distance, straight ahead.

I see my mother.  She looks different, but I am sure it is my mother.  She is like the others, walking past me, looking in the distance.  I call out to her.  She does not seem to hear me.

Someone lets me know that my mother has to go on her own journey.  But she will be fine.  And I too, will be fine.

View of Toledo

Many years later, when I saw “View of Toledo” by El Greco, it was like seeing the landscape in that dream.  Instead of the line of towers, there was a line of people that started at my left.