The snow had filled my leather boots, somehow through the holes. I combed my chilled ruffled hair all the way back using my fingers. The day was long – tragic, coupled along with several failed communications. I hadn’t made it through any of the interviews over the past two weeks.
Did I not impress them? I tried with every ounce of energy I had to put on my best shirt and the faded burgundy coloured tie that had been my dad’s. Wasn’t that first impression of appearance impactful enough for them? Perhaps it was my lack of certification and verification from society. The lack of papers to prove my self worth that I had the skills to tackle this job alone. The lack of men’s appraise that I was capable enough. The lack of acknowledgement from this universe that I am existing – as a human not an animal of any animal kingdom.
I dropped out of school – at the age appropriate for self-survival. It never occurred to me as a regret but more of an adventure waiting to unfold ; day after day. I was alas free from colourful jailed cells of endless preaching on sin and numeric figures. I sought solace in the craziest ideas and things. It was as if I lived from a separate universe that finding my other half never really worked out within the second month of dating. Or perhaps, it was my lack of certification to prove the stability I could guarantee to someone else. How could it ever be possible to provide for someone I so dearly love when I am already struggling to provide for myself? I’d end up only hurting the person I have a strong affection for, isn’t it so? To reduce the harm I could possibly bring to someone else, I minimised social interactions of any sexual attraction to the opposite gender. The entire frame of being in love was simply too risky – I gave up.
Apart from the worries of finding a job in the city area, I was submerged into a swift strangling canal of struggles that caused me to fear walking home each day. The fear of providence and guidance.
I reached deep into my trench coat pocket for the keys to my rundown apartment along Parkinson Avenue. It was an apartment that could fit both of us – pretty nicely. No one here really bothered about the cracked walls or leaking pipes along the stairwell. As the door creaked open, i took a lengthy breath before proceeding in. Balancing on one foot, I got rid of all the snow still buried somewhere beneath the soles of my boots.
“How was work today?” she asked with a sort of gentleness in her tone, yet it somehow implied as though she was seeking a sense of security and prayerfully hoping that my job could provide her with the stability she yearned for.
Every night, for past months, this question resonated in stale air.
“okay” I replied slamming the fridge door close whilst holding a pack of microwavable pasta box.
“how was work today?” she repeated nonchalantly as if she hadn’t heard my reply.
“i said it was okay? which part of that don’t you understand?” i raised my voice in response as impatience creeped up my back. The beep went off and i violently grabbed the box and slammed it down onto the wooden table infested with mites.
“how was work today?” she repeated for the third time in the exact same tone and expression.
A wave of intolerance overwhelmed me. I clenched my teeth together with a sense of guilt embedding my fragile soul. I didn’t want to tell her- that I had been jobless for months now and we were living off a meagre sum from his funeral.
“They came again, to ask for the rent. They will be cutting the electricity and water if we do not pay by a week’s time. Is there not a cent you can spare to provide me a roof over my head?” She asked with the exact tone and expression yet again. Half of her had grown cold to the reality of life.
There was a huge lump of guilt that tensed within the walls of my throat. Not once had I envisioned my future like this. To be unable to provide for her – with the basis and necessities of life. I had promised him when he was bed-ridden with tubes all implanted onto his body; that no matter the circumstance of life, i will carry her through. I wiped my palms across my pale, stone-hardened face. Hope had seemed to disappear and vanish within the time.
Some days, i can barely breathe. It just seems as if the whole world has turned against my guts, my will, me. And today was one of those days. Statistically, i had a lack of people to depend on – i barely had one i could confide in due to the stigmatisation etched in my mind of interactions with others.
Somehow that night, at that instant moment, the guilt entrapped within me scraped the sides of my heart open.
“you’re such a burden. i live without a job. i live without interaction. i live without meaning. the past four months, i’ve been around the city for interviews for a range of jobs – but none called back. a fear in me that his promise will never be fulfilled haunts me day and night. i live in fear of another tomorrow that approaches. they degrade me for not having as much as others in terms of material worth and status. they cast away my perceptions and angles of analyzation. this is too heavy for my shoulders, i am afraid the bones will wallop me alive. ” i blurted out in despair.
The facade and illusions were torn apart. They faded as smog amidst the misty air. Defeated in knowing that my existence was merely a mistake they made. That very night, I heard whimpers from time to time in the wee hours. A burning cry that encompassed sorrow and pain of third degree.
The following day flew by just like any other. Hours of aimlessness passed and I reached the similar subway at 7pm. I trudged along the snow that had filled my leather boots. The same tragic fear haunted my vulnerable soul yet again.
As the door creaked open, a scent of fresh foods wavered through my nostrils. A reminiscent moment of childhood resonated through the films in my mind. I lifted the broken plastic lid at the dining table only to realise there were several well-prepared dishes.
I awaited for the same old question that night but somehow knowing that it’ll never be the same again. But that night, i neither heard her voice nor seen her presence around our tiny apartment.
Beneath the dishes, stuck a letter. With illegible handwriting written all over, it took me a decent amount of time to fully understand:
Since young, your eyes have always shone in the brightest ways when you speak. Your passion on things that others glance pass. Your thoughts on the world – at times absurd but always a beauty to hear. Sorry we never had enough to complete your education.. to provide you with the best we could. Sorry you had to battle this war alone for so long after daddy passed on. This world is a war zone, but Mama won’t let you battle this alone. You’ve been in the frontline for too long- I apologise. I may not be young or as mobile as you are, but I have found a job as a caretaker and helper two blocks down the road. You no longer have to fight alone. I haven’t cooked your favourite boiled prawns with garlic sauce and buttered grilled corn since daddy left, so this is the least i could do.
I love you son, and I hope you notice the bold eyes you have inherited from dad.
The following nights, I no longer heard the voice of her asking about my job. The lack of her presence was physically painful for deep within me, i missed her ever so dearly. But I found love. An emotional connection within the two of us because i had a companion in the battle. And to have someone provide you with so much and love you just the same despite who you are, somehow shapes a tomorrow with endless possibilities of hopes.
Thank you mama. Because of you, i am not afraid of plucking up courage to speak because i am inspired through the strength within a woman like you. Because of you, i found the importance of relationships. That this battle is fought better with soldiers right by your side and catching your back from time to time. Because of you, i have found meaning in life. The fact that you believed in me when i could barely believe in myself.
The inward boundaries have hindered me for years but you, mama, you – showed me the reasons of living this life I live.
To all mothers out there, thank you for you constant love and sacrifice. Through the littlest things you do, to being our main supporter in life – thank you for never giving up on us even when the days seem so dark.
Wishing all mothers a very blessed mothers day !