‘Mother,’ I whisper. I look straight at her, eyes wide open. I knew that she could read me. You will question yourself, ‘How can a 12 year old boy talk to you and think like that, once I finish.’ She could not stop her tears, but she knew I had forgiven her.
She’s my mother, the only person who I looked up to. She’s my mother, the only person who held my hand and wiped my tears when I was sad or frightened. She’s my mother, who cried when I moved from a gown to breeches. She’s my mother, no one can lay claim on her except me. She was and always will be my mother. She wanted to know what I was thinking, my thoughts, her eyes asked me. I will tell you and her all.
I felt something hot touch my bare right leg. I did not flinch. Why should I if my mother was next to me? Then another drop. Yes, it was liquid, I felt it slide down. But I can not yet tell you what it is. Mother was holding a candle. She had tilted it slightly towards the table, whether it was wax that she was pouring or hot liquid, I still do not know. All I do know is that it was coming from mother.
I felt my mouth twitch, the side of my left lips tipping up slightly.
‘The spirit! Look, the spirit is smiling!’ I heard someone yell.
I roll my eyes at the comment and look back at mother. Her eyes were smiling at the ridiculous comment.
‘I think the spirit will come out now!’ This was definitely a woman. Did they all have to yell?
I shut my eyes tightly. I may be 12, but a spirit? Really? These were grown people yelling across the room. I open my eyes again and screw them at mother. She knew what my eyes were asking her, ‘Seriously, mother? Is this how it will all last? If so, then please, please kill me now.’
She shook her hand, and I felt a splatter of heat dropping across both my leg. She screwed her own eyes at me. ‘Do not ever talk like that again otherwise I will give you worse,’ she was angry.
I lower my gaze, my sign of an apology. Her eyes moved to the left. She was still annoyed.
Now tell me, how am I to pacify her? I cannot move, remember?
I see that you will not be of much help.
I lower my gaze back down. 3…2…1. Lifting my eyes back at her, she was looking back at me. I see the tears sliding down her cheeks. She had heard me talking to you.
I must stop now. The conversation, the thoughts are no longer important. My mother was crying. Tears wear sliding down faster. Not just a few, but it was continuous. I can, now, only tell you what I am feeling.
I can no longer feel heat, but what I can feel is anger. I know it would consume me. I know I would lose control. But what can I do?
‘Yes, it’s the evil spirit!’
‘Father, we must pour wax on him. We need more candles!’
Yes, people were yelling, but my body was not shaking because of some evil spirit. You and I know it was not.
My mother’s tears were not because of me, it was them. They brought on these tears! No one brought tears to my mother’s eyes except me! I was all she had and they were taunting her! Claiming and shouting an evil spirit was inside me was one thing as was torturing me, but bringing tears to her eyes was something else.
Her eyes were pleading me to calm down. I? Calm down? The best I could give her was being silent. I shut my eyes again, but began inhaling deeply.
‘Father, the candles!’ A deep voice echoed across the room.
My thoughts? I am truly sorry for thinking that I could be a girl. I am sincerely sorry for attempting to be like you, mother. I did not know what a boy wanted, what he liked, his style of dressing. How could I? Father was not around. I hated the man who tried to touch you. I saw how you hid from him. I saw how scared you were of him. Did I want to be like him? No. I wanted to be gentle, like you. I wanted to speak softly, like you. Not like uncle something or the other. He seemed to enjoy shouting at you. Did you want me to be like him? You were strong, mother. I saw you smash a glass out of anger. I could do that. I do not need to be a boy to smash a glass onto that man’s head. I do not need to be a man to smash the glass on uncle something or the other. For sure, I will admit that such a fat man could kill me just by sitting on me. I know, mother, you smiled at that last comment. I am sorry, mother, I guess it was childish thoughts that led me to want to imitate you. Imitate you to the extent that you would face such trouble. Mother, I was such a quiet child. No one wanted to be my friend. What was I to do? Race? Who was there to teach me? You taught me to ride, but not to race. Games? Play with whom? Can only a girl play the piano? Can only a girl draw? Why should it concern them of what I do? I will apologise for trying on your jewellrey, for attempting to wear your dress. But, mother, you were not home, remember? I missed you to the extent that I could do what any other child would do. I went to your room, touched and tried on your clothes just to feel as if you were near me. Again, I guess it was wrong and that it was not normal. But, mother, how am I to know what was normal? I just wanted to be the caring, loving, soft, gentle person that you were. I just assumed that I had to be a girl to be those things.
These are my thoughts. I do not know what you are thinking, but I know mother will be crying still.
I open my eyes. I want to see her reaction.
‘Mother,’ I whisper.