Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
“Are you even listening to me?” Mom’s voice had probably gotten to its zenith.
I’d taken on a new strategy for mom. Whenever she gets herself into a fight with me, I block my lips with an invisible tape. You can never even expect to win her over in an argument, because no matter how logically and calmly you speak, you can’t reason with her. You just can’t. I’ve tried a million times and failed outright. So, silence is the best policy.
“Look at your pals. Everyone’s finding themselves a private tutor and studying hard every single day. Everyone’s serious in studying now. And you? All day and all night you’re just sitting before the freaking laptop and wasting your time!”
Wasting your time? Something just burst out in my brain.
“A writer, huh? A writer! How did you even come up with such a bogus idea? The time you’re giving in this shit, if you gave even the half of that to anything else, it would serve you some good. This writing will earn you nothing in life. You hear me? NOTHING!”
My chest began to burn with agitation. I had to wrestle with myself not to shed the tears in the corners of my eyes.
“And if you really think it’s worth all your time and effort, then show me your achievements. What have you achieved in the past two years, since you got into this shit? Tell me, can you show me anything? Of course not. Because, you couldn’t get a single achievement out of this shit, could you?”
That was it! I jumped off the bed, stormed out of the room, and locked myself in the bathroom after slamming the door behind me. I needed some quiet, desperately.
But mom wasn’t willing to give me the slightest of that. She followed me and stood in front of the bathroom door.
“Tawsif! Tawsif! TAWSIF! COME OUT I SAID!” She outreached what I thought was the zenith of her voice.
I dashed away from the door and placed myself in a corner of the bathroom, as far away from her yells as possible.
“You know what? You can’t run away from this. What you’re doing is total shit! It’s. Total. Shit.”
The storm that was rampaging through my insides had turned into a tornado now. I inserted my forefingers into my ears; it’d gotten beyond all limits of my tolerance and I badly wanted an escape.
But the yells still penetrated my ears. I pushed my fingers even further, regardless of the biting pain it cost, but they still found a way in. I still made out the words like ‘shit’, ‘worthless’, ‘rubbish’,each a blow of hammer on my heart.
I couldn’t resist the tears anymore. My head fell against the wall, and I wept and sniffed incessantly, thinking, How could a mother insult her son that much? Didn’t it hurt her at all, saying things like this to me? Does she even care that I’m her son? Her son!
The yells, I can’t tell after how long, had ceased to break through. I finally had silence, and it washed the pain away slowly. Soon, my mind went blank. There were no thoughts, no pain, no relief; just sheer blankness.
I had to turn to the bathroom a lot of times since that day. It was excruciating, being alone within four walls to run away from her. It ached to have nobody to care, nobody to even notice what I was going through. I had my dad and my elder sister, but my sufferings never bothered them. They were oblivious, and at times even supportive, to what mom did to me; the youngest member in the family, in their eyes, is supposed to carry out every single order and refrain from every single prohibition coming from the elders, no matter how unjust they are.
The memories suddenly vanish from my mind’s eye, and I find myself standing right in front of her. My mom, who used to be the fiercest person in the world to me, is now so helpless. Timid. Nervous. Entirely at my disposal. It makes an enigmatic feeling surge through me—something sweet and bitter at the same time.
I can now take full revenge of everything she’d done to me. I can make her feel the pain I endured. I can make her enter the horrifying world of loneliness where she’ll have nobody to care, and nobody to save her from me.
But I hesitate. The ruler trembles in my hand, which has suddenly begun to feel terribly weak. Somehow, I’m being thwarted from throwing out the rage I’d kept suppressed all my life.
And then, I remember that sentence, the one thing she never forgets to say in every fight, the one thing that hurts me the most: “God knows what sin I’d committed that YOU were born from my womb!”
I succumb to the pain, and hit her with all the power in my hand. The ruler cuts her cheeks, and she shrieks; not in her typical voice, but in a bloodcurdling one…….
Suddenly the sight of mom tied with a chair changes into a dark, tall wall. I feel for a moment I’m all lost, but then it flashes on me: It wasn’t mom, it was me screaming on my bed, and it was a dream all along.
“Tawsif, what happened?” Mom says while rushing into my room and towards my bed. I get down and wrap my arms around her, tighter than ever. She embraces me with affection, relieving my terror with all the warmth and smell in her body. I feel something melting in my stomach, and it moves me to tears.
“What is it, son?” She sounds terrified.
“It’s……” I trail off. I don’t know if I should tell her or not. I take my hands off her back and, for the first time, notice dad and my sister are there behind mom as well.
“Nothing serious, mom. Just a bad dream.” I manage to let out the words.
“It’s okay. It happens.” She strokes my hairs, smiling. “Now go have a sound sleep.”
I smile back and turn towards my bed, feeling a lot easier.
Mom, dad, and my sister watch me lie down, and then begin heading back to their rooms, chattering anxiously with each other on how my scream had woken them up.
And then, on a whim, I shout, “Mom!”
She comes back and walks to my bed. “Yes, dear.”
I scratch against the bedsheet, and then say, “Do you love me?”
“Course you I do, son. Don’t ever doubt it.” The reply came instantly, but it doesn’t have the effect on me which it was supposed to.
She plants a soft, tender kiss on my forehead and says, “Now close your eyes and sleep.” She goes away after I shut my eyes.
I wait for her footfall to grow faint, and when it does, my eyes spring open. I have my mind pulsing with a flood of thoughts.
Sometimes I truly wish I could beat mom and take revenge. And today, my subconscious has just shown me what it would be like.
I feel guilty, abashed, as if I’d actually beaten her in reality.
I remember the question I’d asked mom some seconds ago. She said she loves me, but it didn’t soothe me then and neither does now.
Mom’s always been like this: affectionate in untroubled moments, and furious the moment I take one step against her wish. And it goes without saying I confront her furious face far more often than the other.
There are times when I wonder why she’s like this to me. I do value the fact that she’s the one to give me birth, and to go through an unthinkable, almost life-ending pain while doing so. Still, does that excuse all her wrongs? Can she get away with them just because she’s my mother?
But I really love her when she gets affectionate. When she cooks me my favorite foods, like noodles or chicken fries. When she gags about her colleagues at office and makes me laugh. When she calls me chandapakhi—the Bengali term for ‘songbird’. When she strokes my hairs and takes me to a world of peace, as if by pouring out ice on the fire of all the worries in my head.
Sometimes I try to dismiss her wrongs reminding myself of these good sides in her—forcibly—and it often works like a charm to heal the pain. Yet, the cruelties she’d done—and still does—to me never cease to occupy the deepest space in my heart. No matter how hard I try to get rid of them, they’re always there, an almost intolerable burden.
I wipe the dream off my mind and think about the way mom rushed to me hearing my scream and calmed me down, trying to discard the burden which is, as always, trumpeting its presence inside.
At the end of the day, she is, inescapably, my mother.