With bitter eyes she stares at me, but silently continues eating her meal. When she’s finished, she frowns, then starts speaking. How my day was, she asks. What marks I got. With my eight years I already learned to give as many positive details as possible. I tell her about my good marks, the compliments the teacher made me, but keep silent the remarks the children in my class made behind my back. She demands proof. I show her my test papers.

    My first day in Junior High, she walks me towards the building. Before we enter, she checks my clothes, makes a remark about the skirt, and pushes me towards the head master’s office. Embarrassment. The head master isn’t in his room, she pushes me to my first class. I hear children giggling when I enter the classroom.

      The boy brought me home, we were neighbors. That evening, even before she finished dinner, she called me a slut. While I was doing the dishes I heard her leaving the house. The boy never spoke to me again. It was getting close to my puberty and I was angry.

    The summer of ’95, I told her at breakfast I was going to live with my dad. She glanced at me and perhaps even smiled, when she told me she’d do anything in her power to keep me with her. She failed. I left her house and country without any money and a minimum of clothes. She didn’t call me for ten months.

      The other country is too strange, the language too hard. I learn what independence is. I long for her voice, but don’t dare to call her. For I haven’t been to school in a few months, for my father is never home, for I wear skirts and let my hair grow long. Then my father dies all of a sudden, and she calls me to tell she’ll take the first plane available. When she arrives at the airport, I don’t recognize her at first. But she recognizes me.

    Haze. A hole in my memory. I live in my mother’s country again. I avoid her as much as possible. She doesn’t talk to me, doesn’t touch me. I hate her, myself, and everyone else. Haze. A phone call. My mother, she is ill. The doctor speaks in a low voice. Cancer. A sad case. Months pass, I think. My mother starts talking to me again, but she is talking to herself rather than to me.

There she sits in her wheelchair, telling herself she is a bad woman, this is a bad hospital, she has raised a bad daughter, and that she is dying. My dad once said she was a dreamy hippie back in her days. I try to imagine her with flowers in her hair, but fail. I push the wheelchair through the endless halls of the sterile hospital. My mother, a flowergirl.

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