Renewing The Circle; A Lost Mother’s Daughter

Nurture, Nature, and Embracing Womanhood



Painting, Oil and mixed media by Andrea Polla

In her own light she was conceived again and again as she grew into her truest self, following her own oath and quest to live life in tune with her deepest heart. She began with no knowledge of who she was or who her mother was despite living together for sixteen years. She knew only that to survive she had to follow the pull through a very twisted and sometimes treacherous journey.

Love is often hidden in the crevasses of the wounded ones, felt, yet not expressed in a manner that a girl or child can decipher. This girl was LittleMe, Lm to her readers, and while facing the rebirth of her own sweet creation, she tore unintentionally yet necessitous the perinium of her mother’s flesh that bore her time after time.

The blood shed, the young woman’s cries reverberated in her dreams; she knew instictively that her beginnings were frightening for her young, lonely mother and that parenting was thrust upon her with reluctance at a time when few could choose to pull the helm in their own direction. Her mother had indeed been married but she knew her choices were complex.

Although a student on scholorships at a good college in the southern USA, her husband was the one who stole from her the sense of ownerhship of her being and he put himself first, not just in their relationship but in all life matters from an early age and forward. It would not take long for him to play cat and mouse, yes and no, hot and cold leaving her with blatant instability. His actions led her to take me and carry our lives in her own hands. This was both an undeniably brave and challenging decision and a burden that would weave in and around our relationship for years to come. Although she had  parents they were not suited for her to run home to; daily life was a struggle to keep us sheltered, with food, clothes, and with money to use for her first old car’s gasoline. Often it was two dollars worth at a time to get to work. The Green Hornet was a beauty bought for much less than it’s value from a coworker whose father had died. She got me to my babysitter’s and herself to her two jobs without help from the one who I called “Daddy”. He would claim to others how much he helped us, lie and make her feel foolish and belittled and there came a time when I would grow into a fierce yet wobbly doe and would see him for all he was sincerely not. His lies were like candy or chips you know you should not be indulging in yet you continue because they taste so decadent and good in a detrimental way. Too many consumed make one sick but the craving remains even so. He was my addiction.

I never truly let go of either of them in my deepest heart however my brain knew what was best for me and pushed them away, down, down, down and put their imprints that hurt Lm into small boxes and locked them with keys I can not use. Only Rock has the key now and LittleMe stands disgruntled on the bottom step of her dank stairwell always wanting more. She will always wish for things to change, to be seen and heard and believed. She will always want love and truth in it’s highest form. Lm continues to forgive clinging to hope with a desperation which deturs her from fully healing. Rock doesn’t think she will ever let go for she, the Black Sheep, the kindest and most endearing of all had her pain wrapped up in a paper bag and set out to seek acceptance fully believing she would find all the answers and eventually all the keys to fill the holes in her heart out in this world somewhere with divine light. Rock patiently stands beside her as once again her heart is aching with new pain invoked by the mother of Lm, the grandmother of Lm’s struggling only child has broke her trust again.

Lm’s young adult has been suffering after coming out of the proverbial closet as transgender. Throughout years of required investigations in the Swedish system, the back log of others waiting after the coronavirus choked socialized medicine to a mere drip of dysfunction. Doctor after doctor, endocriniologist, psychiatrists, depression, dysphoria and self loathing became a never ending roller coaster ride in an abandoned amusement park for her daughter and for Lm. Seeing her own child hurt repeatedly has contained all of Lm’s emotions regarding her own deepest self so she may be available and strong for her daughter.

The circle of love and pain begins to churn. Nurturing yet admittidly not knowing the answers has brought Lm to a stand off with her own mother visiting for six weeks from the southern USA. The same area were drag queens are prohibited, the same south where the bill was passed that genitalia must be checked before entering toilets in public places, the same south and country where carrying guns to school instead of sneaking in bubblegum is more common.

Lm’s daughter is Black and Cuban, adopted from birth, her fragility and social anxiety is hightened as the world she experiences judges her everyday because she is not white and priviledged. The world is full of haters. Lm’s heart is full of love and it grows bigger making room for all of the LGBTQ+ community, wanting to hold them all in her shadow, protect them from harm and discrimination.

The mother that never knew Lm truly and with whom she still forgives daily has now crossed a line that has caused profound pain for her beloved daughter. While out for an appointment, Lm’s mother and her daughter were left home together. Lm had made it clear before her mother visited that she had to follow the rules of her household, not push her bounderies or she could not visit. Despite jumping through hoops, rolling over and fetching for her mother for eighteen days she felt it would be okay to leave the house to do errands. Then a text message came from her daughter whom I will refer to from now forward as “B” for blessing arrived. Lm had just sat down in a café and ordered a glass of white wine when B’s text pinged on her phone. Expecting the usual, “Mom can you pick me up some chips?”, Lm reads that her Meanmom has resurfaced and was verbally inappropriate with B. Meanmom went to her granddaughter’s room twice uninvited and told her that she was put on this planet by God for a reason. Okay, she can think that. Then she did her double back flip of harsh whiplash and used her tongue put in her mouth by her God to proceed to say B was a disappointment to her, to us all and that she would wind up on the streets and was worthless. Rock stepped in and double checked all drawers to the memories of Lm’s shitty childhood full of belittling and physical abuse from Meanmom were secured so she could focus only on her daughter’s needs. The pain grew exponentially even so and she for the first time delegated all of her disgust and unspoken words to her most trusted confidant, her husband. Rock was proud Lm did not react by lashing out at her Meanmom or by letting her own tongue spew regrets. Her husband who has now adopted Lm’s daughter stood up as a father should, in the way BadDad never did for her as a young adult, and became the kind of person she admires. Dear Swedish Italian Viking, my favourite human spoke to Meanmom while Lm comforted her daughter and now she is even more in love with her Swedish Italian Viking husband. Now Lm must consult with Rock and decide how to proceed forward on this day after the incident with Meanmom scheduled to be here for another month. Luckily, Meanmom stays in the little house on the property and not in the same house with Lm, B and her husband. What makes all of this so important that it needs to be written down? Lm is growing stronger and is not afraid as often even if triggered. Most importantly is that Lm adopted her baby with her first husband 25 years ago and he disowned B when she came out. Quit, broke her heart and has been swallowed up by bigotry. That loss for B was enormous. After much time passed it became clear the bigot would not contact B more and Lm’s dear husband asked to adopt her.

Think of all the children, the young adults, the humans of any age terrified of living life as who they truly are because they are transgender, gay, or define themselves with a pronoun other than “she” or “he”. Think about the Black skinned, the brown skinned, the Asians of any descent, the hate that gloats and seeps it’s ugly sickness into the hearts of those fighting to live their best life depsite it all. I sit wondering how Lm ever let her guard down, began to trust once again the mother that bore her, that gave her this life; the one that says she loves us yet scars our hearts repeatedly with her hateful words. Lm can’t forgive, Rock pushes emerging ME to stand up for my daughter and I feel the closing in of the circle, the one I’ve tried to keep open with room for  my mother’s imperfections; yet when my child, no matter her age is feeling badgered, broken and lost Lm can relate to the stain her grandmother left on her heart yesterday, the final stain at least from her grandmother. The circle will change; womanhood should be inclusive not exclusive. Am I disappointed in Meanmom or in myself for believeing that continuing to allow her the priviledge to be part of our lives was or is the right thing to do. I don’t know the answers now. Rock unlocks the door at the top of the stairwell and Lm is released into the sunshine; he trusts that she is growing into her first true grasp of what  it means to be reunited with her deepest self, that she is integrating and we will integrate and continue to rise above all that broke us into dissociative fragments as a girl.

Rock proudly states, “She is becoming her own shield.” Will Rock soon be obsolete?

And Just Like That…

We ran aground, abandoned our selves, leaving remnants of our selfishness behind. Tattered, weathered, we crawled ashore only to find that we were not existing to comfort one another, only to comfort ourselves. Distress signals were fired, yet no one came to calm our storm. We were no longer sailing as one, broken, I abandoned ship. What good Captain of honour does such a ferocious leap, only for their soul? Perhaps one who gave all of herself, became a passive wench following another’s sails, n’er listening to the wind’s song or calling out in the fog with her own voice. Thunderous warnings were present, no good shipman would deny them. She bailed out, tossed by the tyrannical storm and sank. Sank, scraping her fair skin on the rugged seashore, bleeding and starved, she made it just far enough to see him walk away. His footsteps, deep and arrogant were all that she was left with. She looked at the sky and saw no light, only darkening clouds laughing at her naivity.

Pa Rumpa Pum Pum; Lm and her Drum. Part 1.5

The beat of Christmas is thumping from within her breast. Glossy flashes of overdone fun, stupored guest’s belongings trusted in Lm’s care remind her of unwanted overtures. Slurring, “Where’s my coat gorgeous?”. The squeezed cheeks, vile hugs from men twice her age who smelled of aged cheese and scotch. “That’s your daughter?”; oh, BadDad was proud then. Lm adored him still. He was all knowing, and she did not care what people said, he was her everything and no one could tell her otherwise. Rock is shoving a big fir tree down the stairwell, it’s walls now likely full of black mold. “What the hell! We can barely breathe in here as it is!”. Lm does her Scarlett O’Hara impression and falls as if fainting when Rock sets up the full Scottish pine. “Shall I drape myself in red velvet curtains, hang mistletoe and pluck a goose?”; Ah, Rock has a reaction from her finally. “Tell me about good times Lm! Must we roll in the stench of unbearable times always?”. Then Lm speaks, “FINE! BadDad is like gumbo, a bit of this, a tad of that and somehow he always made his fuck up’s better. He knew he could lie to others in front of me and I would never cross him. I miss him. I miss his daydreams, his enthusiasm, his blue eyes that could cry so dramatically, the same eyes that broke me still have a family, MY family. I had to forsake them to save us. Five of my seven half-siblings believe in him, celebrate Christmas right now with him and it’s painful. Three are strong women who would never take what I did from him. How am I to feel when he lied to their mother’s, cheated on them and even though my first little sister from Elle knows enough to stand up for me, she retreats. Why? It’s a hell of a lot easier to have the abused one far away in another country.” “Do you want to change it somehow?” asks Rock. Lm smells the fresh scent of the forest greenery and looks lost. She then starts to make popcorn and finds a needle and thread to sew a traditional cranberry popcorn chain. “I know one thing Rock. Thanks to you. TRUTH is the dystopian playground for the likes of us. We can no longer play with the others but at least we have one another.” Rock the protector, the foreman of all that is rightuous is wrong. Wrong in his predictions that is; Lm’s strength and courage surprises him yet he is thankful that Lm may just be able to go on with her life, with him on her shoulder and together they can burn the secret files from her past. Or can they? To cut the ties is a frightening thought. Can Lm stand up for herself and can Rock help her to heal? There is not much time left and God knows something must change permanently soon. Her physical pain, her cptsd and feelings of being erased tower over her. In the shadows of the well meant Christmas tree from Rock she feels her Daddy’s hand, his old love and wonders if he will ever tell her siblings, his wife, or even himself the Truth. Christmas is lost in old songs, unrequited love and Rock knows, “Pa Rumpa Pum Pum” fills Lm’s heavy heart with the kind of memories that creep upon many lost souls whether they summons them or not this time of year. Lm blurts out, “So you want a good memory Rock? Will that make you feel better? It sure as hell won’t help me but I’ll do it for you because it is Christmas Eve.” Lm stands and shares the memory of caroling with BadDad’s mother whom she adored. “My cousins and I went to neighbors and sang Jingle Bells, The Little Drummer Boy and more. That’s a good memory. Why? Because BadDad wasn’t there.” Lm tries to straighten the tree and carefully adorns it with her popcorn and cranberry chain. “To bad you can’t eat, Rock. I’m craving rice pudding. The door to Lm and Rock is slightly open and she feels the cold, frosty air. Integrating with Rock is a far off dream; whether it’s due to the spirit of hope and love that Christmas brings or her secret fantasy, Lm wants to feel whole again.

Step Back People; This is My Investigation

Photo by cottonbro studio on
...and me, you, us.
I feel you in my heartbeat, in my deepest known self
...I knew there was someone missing; don't know how
My brother; damn how you look like him, how you look like me.
I miss YOU.
We've never met in real life.
Skype, chats so polite and cautious are what we know.
I am selfish; possesive,sick with sorrow and desperate.
Thank the Universe, "God?". Mostly let's praise your smart birthmother, that you did not know HIM.
The man with the sperm, the lies, the narcissitic persona; the overtaking birthfather we share.
Lucky One. He flooded anyone near him with his tsunami of FIRST.
I am jealous that you had a father who loved you, NO MATTER WHAT!
A Mother that was so amazingly grateful you were placed into her arms
Still you were the son of the one who was unable to give many of his genetic creations that he "kept" a sense of importance, of being wanted.
He always was more important. I am so grateful brother you were given love, a family life that was whole.
I am broken, as I never knew this profound love from our shared birthfather.
I was his pawn, sidekick, the one who knew, saw who he was; I carried too much Truth,
I was disposable to him as he bounced from woman to woman, lived lie after lie.
You were saved.
May I, if I am given one last gift, sit next to you, hug you and protect our connection?
I am the gun with empty chambers,shooting at the bad but never succeeding in stopping the beast.
I am the sister, the mother, the wife, the daughter who will, if I must, load the pistiol, take the fall to keep us ONE.
I give you and all of BadDad's secrets a free card; It is not your fault that he did not care about us
He is a fault, a barren soul; let's recreate our world without his demons.
Triggered and Trust are both silent emotions.
Beckons you home, waits on the front porch far away
With her heart entwined with yours.

Resurrecting ROCK

After a long hiatus, Rock was found face down in wet leaves, stashed behind the family pet’s gravestones

For some newer readers, you might consider going back to the very first post in October 2021; Rock has been crucial to LittleMe’s growth, always her protector and strong. As Lm gets healthier, crushing her past with a mortar and pestle grain by grain she hid Rock and escaped his wise, solemn advice. Why would she do this to her best cover, her internal bodyguard since she was so small, she couldn’t talk? Rock knows and is upright, straight forward so let him explain why, despite her bravery, she still needs him and always will. ROCK is all knowing, a TRUTH teacher, and he sees what Lm is thinking before she acts. Without him, Lm (despite feeling she can take on the world), well, simply put, she can’t. Lm suffers from childhood trauma, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, CPTSD, depression, and extreme insecurity because those she loved like BadDad let her down, not once but to the deepest, darkest, unforgettable place that creeps up on her, breaks her and torments her still. “Lm?”. Silence. Damn. “Lm? I’m back, still here for you. Are you under the bed? Are you in the stairwell opening memories without me?”. He waits. He hears a whistle, the kind a small child tries to make but it’s more like a soft blow of wind with a hum. “Come out Lm and let’s talk about what you’ve been up to. “Lm is indeed under the bed. Out stretches her hand from the same old bed she fled to when BadDad memories became too big when she was young. She feels Rock’s gritty surface, whimpers and doesn’t retreat. Rock is everlasting, part of her until her last breath; she wraps her smallest self around him as tears flood the floor. Rock is good at cleaning up messes and doesn’t mind. “We are closer to being one, but Lm you are not ready. I will know when it’s time to merge.” Rock wants to keep her safe and tells her, “Don’t hide me away again, we need each other Lm. Do you understand why now?”. Lm nods her head up and down and wants to articulate “Yes.” She can’t talk right now and is grateful Rock returned. “Tired of keeping up that big girl smile?”. Lm nods again. “I got you. Rock is here. Rest your heartache, leave your longing, stop waiting for the sky to open and for BadDad to hear you, admit his sins, to regret his lies and wrongs. It IS NOT going to happen Lm. He does NOT care and never will because you remind him of who he really is. Rest child. I will stand guard; I will keep you from starving for his love.” Lm lies in her puddle of tears with Rock. She is sorry to admit, she is not even close to being healthy. Rock knows Lm also has much chronic physical pain and is tired of fighting, that she is weary. He assures her she can close her eyes, but he knows he can never stop her dreaming.

Little White Lies; Burning Memories of You One Day at a Time

Photo by George Becker on
Lines on paper
          Lines of lies
Lines on your forhead
          Lines of time
Scars written in blue ink
          Signed with red wine
Burning my little self, my littleMe Mind
          Scraps of Me 
  Ripped      ON    Old Paper
Rewritten, Burn, Burn, Burned.
      Lies Like
            Crumpled pieces of you
All that you did
            Only I knew
Candles lit, dripping at night
I stop your rewrites here
       Lies in the fire
Lies ancient, Lies new
        Kindling. one, three, two
Memoirs of Time, Flickery, flick
        In the flames you will go, blow blow below
One line at a time, one lie at a time, one lifetime blistered
        by my Father of Crime.

Guitars, Mars and Moonpies

Sitting with my Grandma, “Shhhh! Now listen”. Her smile is remembered. Loretta Lynn singing on the small television, being interviewed and my admiring her long dark hair. My cousins were restless and sent outside with sweet tea, moon pies and I stayed beside her. The Grand Ole Opry! Being poor and working one’s way to the top is an achievement many country music fans, or mindful humans can appreciate. I didn’t feel poor or that life was a struggle; Grandma came from a very well-mannered family and kept us close, often saying,”not our people”, when I asked questions about others I was all in a quandary with. “Mind your business; we have enough with each other.” I always wondered how Loretta Lynn knew anything about coalminers; all dolled up with ribbons in her hair, long braids and frilly, detailed dresses she did not seem to me to be simple or wanting in anyway. It’s dark tonight on Sweden’s west coast and my days in Nashville seem light years away; I want to believe that Loretta is soaring above us, having a look at Mars, smiling and humming in peace. Women become strong through experience, fighting for their words to be heard and sung. I feel a warmth, a sense of peace knowing she had such a good life by just being herself. What if we all could just be humble, gracious, kind and appreciate of our lives? Wouldn’t that be something? I can’t play a guitar. If I could I would take my hidden wings, stuff banana and chocolate moon pies, RC cola and warm grits with butter and salt into my backpack, strap my Fender over my shoulder and rise amongst the stars. There I’d see Mrs. Loretta waiting and she’d pat the ground beside her, invite me to sit down and we’d sing with her long dark hair flowing in sync with eternity. Actually, I think she wouldn’t care whether I could play guitar. I can carry a tune. She may be our best example of “the salt of the earth”, now an iconic memory that changed music and hearts forever. Maybe Grandma would be there, too and I’d surprise her with all my southern goodies. We wouldn’t be tired, or sick or old. Just three strong women, free from adversity and strife sipping our cola, eating warm grits and unwrapping moon pies on Mars.

Grace, Continuance and Loss

Photo By Magnus Polla
A Room With A Pew photo by Magnus Polla

Lm has been down this road many times before; finding hope, losing hope, finding love, losing love, believing, not believing, passionate, passive, TRUSTING….Huge ENORMOUS SNAG! Truth has always been closeted, boxed up, stored away or tossed out. What is there to believe in when so many people hurt, hide their fears and keep running on ego, pretention and illusions? Rock has been placed near the old church door keeping an eye out for anyone who might see Lm in this vulnerable place. She is trying with all her might to pray, to feel truly heard, to heal; yet her leary, cynical self says, “Fuck you, how the hell am I to believe life gets better or people are capable of serious growth when those who squeezed my heart until it barely had a beat never called or wrote to say they were wrong or sorry?” This old church is barren of worshippers; cold and musty it remains a historical treasure embraced by uncertainty. Centuries old, desperate pleas from villagers long gone can still be heard. Savage Saviour, where art thou NOW? Lm screams her prayer pleading to be seen, her little girl voice echos, bouncing like a slobber covered tennis ball that belongs to a beloved family labrador that was left alone too long. From wall to an arched planked ceiling and back to the pulpit it lands with fury, causing the thin paned windows to rattle. Rock is ready. He knows this will be a bad experience; Lm will likely try to run, leaving him nebulously behind. There are no quick answers, advise or even faint clues as to how she can exorcise her miniature demons which usually leave her mute, squatting in the black, dank, drowning corners of her past. She is angry that her half-siblings are put on pedestals while she and the others are shunned. Nature has gouged into humankind to believe in more since the Neanderthals rubbed two sticks together. Or did they? Shamans, organised religions, cults, even Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneras, Queen Elizabeth II, Elvis and Jane Goodall have a strong following! Do Chimpanzees pray? Do elephants mourn or black crows truly attach? From Eve’s naked temptation to Eris the Goddess of all femme fatales, the feminine figure is the cause of all temptuous forces. Lm refuses to accept this. “Dear Goddess, Dear Female Lord, Dear Universe, Dear Whatever, hear my prayer. Please? Amen. Thank you. Ummm, I don’t even know what to say, and of course if you could save me from further self loathing I’d appreciate it.” Lm was ousted from BaDDaD’s life for she knew too much. (Period. New paragraph. She still has humor!) New Life. Forced unwillingly into a complex Witness Protection Program devised by elders she loved Lm has continued to feel threatened until recently; with one swift move using her handmade sharpened scythe she could exploit the Truth anytime. Escaping for her is simple. Whoever came up with the following and frequently misquoted advise was straight and as strong as well casked Kentucky bourbon. Southern wine. “Always tell the Truth then you don’t need to REMEMBER your lies”. BaDDaD once had eyes on her, little pipsqueak narks he puffed up like Vietnamese blowfish so they could feel higher, more significant to him than Lm; she was tortured with threats of going no contact if she spoke “poorly” of him. BOO, fucking HOO! Not anymore; Lm is very intelligent and knows he is the epitomy of fraudulence, the one who could gnaw through the twines of his Upper Up’s and unlike Martha Stewart, he never was nailed for his sins or intentional manipulation. From the womb of a good woman, he landed on both feet running; Crossville to Nashville, from here to there, D.C., Cannes, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Annapolis, Virgina and more he has always been fifty leaps ahead of the feds; sadly he remains on the run within himself, he wouldn’t know HONESTY if it hit him in the face with a piping hot iron skillet. Narcissistic parents brag because they want the kudos for being the world’s most perfect parents; “Look what we have created!” Lm’s achievements are never seen or known; she has jumped over thorns, with her alt persona she continues bravely through the tangled ivy, a jungle of lies to find peace. That’s gotta be worth a penny. Her brutal realness is feared by those who should sparkle and delight in TRUTH. Lm stands, looks back at Rock for reassurance, wipes her tears on her old jean jacket then together they return to safety in the hidden stairwell. Lm closes her eyes. Rock is vigilent, always alert, and steadfast. He double locks the door that leads to her heart. AMEN.

Denied; Kalthoom’s Tears

Photo by Darina Belonogova on

As soon as she could walk on her two tiny feet Kalthoom had been obedient; she listened well, always attentive, mindful to cause no strife as her older brothers had. She rubbed her father’s feet and served him sweet tea when he came home to their small two room apartment in their displaced country. She ran to him each night with bright warm eyes and a smile that reminded him of his wife; he would lift her high into the air and say, “my gift”. Muhamad was the father of four sons, Abdelkarim, Hussein, Salim and Omar; three were married to good women who stayed home cooking, cleaning and focusing on their husband’s needs while his sons were studying the new language in this culturally perplexing new homeland, at least for him. Muhamad for as long as he could recall was Baba, the provider and strong one who lived the life of a faithful Muslim. He wanted nothing more than his family to be happy, secure and feel loved. His youngest son and fourth child Omar was following in his father’s footsteps, this gave Muhamad much pride. His trade took expertise, patience and time; he would become an excellent mason with much to look forward to. He was not bright in the book knowledge sort of way, yet he was a master with his hands, his craft flawless. He longed for grandchildren and would often lean in with an unassuming manner trying to overhear his wife Amina speaking in low tones over tea with his son’s wives. Kalthoom was his little miracle as he was fifty-eight years old when his wife surprised him with the news that she was carrying his child once more. She had been a perfect companion, younger than he by eighteen years; she was angelic, never hurried or too tired of the children’s scattering about and noisy play, never once had she been ill. She did not deny him of pleasure nor raise her voice or undermine his decisions. It was an agreeable union meant to be. He was pleased that he could still create life with the grace of Allah and prayed for a healthy pregnancy. Honestly, he fully expected another son. Amina was his best friend, much more than she would ever know; he needed her easy way, her scent of life itself and her smooth skin touching his. Amina’s understanding gaze into his eyes at night by candlelight when he spoke of their earliest days together illuminated their faces, setting a melancholy atmosphere for his nostalgic recollections. He spoke of the chill in his skin when sitting nervously waiting to meet his soon to be wife, an arranged bride with their parent’s blessings. They laughed, remembering his shaking hands causing an obvious rattling clank of his teacup on its saucer. Her father asked him to stand when she came into the family room where they received visitors. He had spilled his tea on the carpet beneath his feet and his eyes widened and looked away quickly after his first glance. She had been escorted by her eldest brother and eventual first son’s namesake, Abdelkarim and seated with her mother on a burnt ochre settee. She never spoke directly; her mother and father spoke for her. Next, they welcomed Muhamad’s father and Aunt. His mother had died when he was sixteen from a stroke. The elders spoke while they had smiled, sneaking glances eye to eye. Her dress was like the desert sky, a perfect shade of blue. It had handsewn golden sequins around the high neck, her hair although mostly covered by her matching hijab, was a rich auburn, carefully dyed with henna. He would recall their first meeting often and Amina never grew bored with his repetitive memories. She knew that memories were important to savour for they both knew they could not return to where they had met. Kalthoom began to cook when her mother was ill with a sickness that no one talked about openly; her father was once a comforting man, reassuring her that everything will be fine if you believe in Allah’s plan. This was long before the dark shadows of sadness caused the family to simply appease their elders. The Imam came to pray with Muhamad by his wife’s bed some mornings when Amina was alert. She would thank him for his grace, then ask in her small voice for Kalthoom to serve tea, and whispered, “please serve the best of our sweet cookies, the one’s with dates carefully pressed into the middle.” Kalthoom obliged. She bowed to the Imam, careful not to catch his eyes and placed the silver serving tray on the low round table where his father sat on decorative cushions across from the Imam. Her father excused her, sending her off to sit by her mother and read poetry in Arabic, the only language her mother would ever know. Some nights and days passed quickly when Kalthoom would be awakened by painful moans and Baba crying in gasps, echoing was his broken heart throughout their otherwise silent surroundings. Kalthoom was frozen, unable to express her sorrow. The brothers and wives came with trays of food which filled the long table, yet no one dared to eat other than Hussein’s wife who was due soon with their first baby. Omar stayed over on the floor next to Baba ready to clasp his father’s hands into his own should he begin to quiver. A year passed and Baba relied heavily on Kalthoom. She learned from Omar how to take the bus to the pharmacy for Baba’s new medicines prescribed to calm his agitation, to walk without an escort into the enormous supermarket and her list of things to do grew longer and more stressful. One evening as Baba sat squatting on his haunches smoking his pipe on the balcony Omar called and said he needed her to listen to his guidance. “My dear sister, I cherish you for all that you do for Baba without complaint however, he is nearing the end of this life and you must learn the language spoken here. How will you survive when Baba should pass?” Kalthoom had never thought about her own future, not even once in a late-night dream state had she known what she longed for. Omar had finally bought a van for his business which was growing and said he would speak to Baba about her learning the new language. Surprisingly to Kalthoom Baba gave her permission to study. Class after class she attended regularly and the stares at her from all the blue eyes was unnerving. One morning a young woman replaced her usual teacher, her eyes were dark as Kalthoom’s. After each class they smiled at one another in a way Kalthoom did not understand; she only knew that the teacher’s smile made her heart thump faster and her palms to sweat. Weeks turned to months when one day the teacher asked her to have tea after class; Kalthoom jumped for joy for the very first time. A friend! She had a friend. For the first time she sat without one of her brothers supervision in a cafe sipping her tea and enjoying what the new land called, “fika”. Her teacher’s parents came from Iran, yet she had been born in Sweden; she shared each time they met a little bit more about the Swedish culture. Kalthoom silently studied how other women dressed as if flipping through a foreign fashion magazine. “Have you learned how to speak yet?” Baba asked the same question everyday. Kalthoom explained the new letters which made unique sounds, Ä, Ö, Å. She had a goal now. She continued to cook, clean and sit with Baba when he stared blankly at the television, not understanding anything he watched; it no longer mattered. His mind was tired, his appetite less and other than Omar picking him up to go to mosque he lay on a mattress near balcony window, drifting in and out of sleep. Her other brother’s wives were all expecting babies now and she looked forward to being an aunt again. When the first baby was born to Hussein’s wife, it was a girl and although it was a delight for the entire family, there was an unspoken knowing a son was longed for. Hussein and his wife Bouchera gave their daughter her grandmother’s name, Amina. Baba was joyful when they visited with the baby. A grandchild finally; he carefully cradled the swaddled bundle and held her close to his heart. Baba would die before the next grandchild was born. For weeks Kalthoom missed her classes and sat crying in the now empty apartment; her sisters-in-law took turns staying with her and they cooked for her, she was grateful yet hopeless now. The teacher rang her, understood her mourning and said she could return when she was ready. She told her in order to continue to the next level she needed to submit her identification number. What was that? Kalthoom wondered. One night the entire family gathered and spoke about necessary things, how to pay bills, how to avoid Swedes who asked too many questions and the brothers agreed that they would all pay a bit toward the rent. Omar would move in to supervise her, and she would need to stay home more. Kalthoom slipped into a depression when she was told she had been brought here with her parents illegally. Her oldest brother Abdelkarim had come with special papers and was able to study and work, but she and the rest of the family had come when she was small through channels worked carefully by other refugees. How could this be? Baba worked, Omar worked, and they had a happy life before. How could this number be so necessary? The wives suggested they meet a nice Muslim man at the mosque who was here legally and perhaps they could arrange a marriage to avoid any complications. Everyone agreed except Kalthoom. This is how it would unfold; she would be placed like a dog in a kennel with some man she never met. She was given handsewn dresses, typical formals to greet her unknown suitors. She was primped and stuffed into a yellow and white satin dress, her hair was dyed by Abdelkarim’s wife for the first time with henna and she had her eyebrows plucked and had eyeliner carefully applied. The teacher rang again and asked to meet Kalthoom, hesitantly she said she could no longer continue to meet or study the language. The language that gave her freedom was the entrance into a gated inner world of silenced women who could not be left to sip tea and sit in cafes with new friends from other places. The dreaded day came when a gentleman twice her age came to meet her. He looked directly at her and chatted and laughed with her brothers. She felt encroached upon, an item up for sale like the plums in the market where she shopped. Baba had left some money and a letter to give to the husband to be which Kalthoom never had known of. Unlike her obedient, attentive and congenial persona she stood up and ran into the bathroom slamming the door and locking it. Everyone could hear her sobbing. The gentleman agreed to leave and was given apologies on her behalf. Once he was gone Omar beat hard on the door, “Kalthoom! What on earth are you doing? We are trying to help you, please, I beg you to come out.” She refused and sat sobbing in a haze of desolation. The rest of the family left, and Omar let her be, easily drifting off to sleep on the sofa after an exhausting day. When all was quiet, Kalthoom opened the door and ripped off the sticky dress and put on one of her mother’s old tunics, a big coat with a hood and took cash from the safe inside the closet which once was her parent’s bedroom. She took a large bag of her mother’s and stuffed it with photos of her family, her bus card and a notebook of memoirs her mother had kept. She took a long look at her most loved brother and snuck out the door, unsure of her intentions. She walked to the bus stop and boarded with no plan. She arbitrarily pressed the button somewhere in the city and stepped out and saw light’s on in windowsills, snowflakes under streetlamps and heard laughter and passers-by enjoying each other’s company. It was not late, perhaps seven at night, but it was black outside, and she felt freedom in absence of her family. She saw a pizzeria open, and she went inside to warm up. She used the new language to order coffee and sat reading her mother’s journal.”Yesterday was the happiest day of my life, I gave birth to a baby girl. I finally am not alone in my femininity. I look forward to teaching her to sew, to cook, and share funny stories of our family’s past. Her eyes, like mine, are rich and warm, her tiny lips are pink as my cheeks. My daughter, my dream.”Kalthoom’s throat thickened, the sorrow she had locked inside when her mother died was rising to the surface and soon without control, she began to cry while seated in a corner table of a busy pizzeria. She knew she had no where to run, nowhere to hide and had to face her future willingly as her mother had accepted her own. She went into a small store about to close and bought a hand carved cedar box. Inside it was lined with red velvet; she bought bright kitchen towels with a floral print, an apron to match and a scented candle ina glass jar. When she arrived home Omar was beside himself with worry. “Kalthoom, where have you been?”. She took off the heavy coat and put her large bag and purchases down, her fingers numb from the biting icy weather. “I have been shopping dear brother; I am so sorry to frighten you.” He asked what she had bought. She pulled out the scented candle that smelled like cinnamon and he took the lid off and took a sniff. She pulled out new kitchen towels and he smiled, she tried on the new apron, and he smiled even more, finally she pulled out the cedar box with red velvet inside. “What is this for?” She walked to the kitchen, Omar right behind her and began to make dinner. She waited to answer and asked him to sit down and to stop talking so much so that she could concentrate on her mother’s lamb stew recipe she read in her journal. The aroma was familiar, one she recalled from a childhood somewhere else. The essence of Amina engulfed her, she felt safe and warm inside. She served the stew with cous-cous on the low table and watched Omar eat as if he had never eaten in his life. “How do you know how to recreate Mother’s secrets?”, Kalthoom simply smiled. She put the wooden box on the table after she had cleared the table and washed up for evening prayers. “Kalthoom, what is this beautiful box for”? Omar pushed for an answer before they went to sleep. “It’s nothing special”. Omar continued to ask her annoying questions and she felt the thickness in her throat again, the rise of her emotions and her mother’s love. “It’s for my unopened dreams that have been denied”. Omar had a blank look on his face. He shrugged his shoulders and went back to the sofa., happy she had filled his belly with such wonderful food. Kalthoom lay in her parent’s bed and read more of her mother’s thick journal. “I never admitted to anyone that I felt nothing for Muhamad in the early years, it has always been a seal between me and Allah. When Kalthoom was born I felt a reawakening and was full of love for everyone. Her devotion to us has opened the door to dreams I never saw come true.”She then placed the book and money back in the safe and lit the candle that smelled of cinnamon. She let some more tear’s flow and drip into the cedar box. She kissed it and put it inside the safe also. There she would share her dreams along with her mothers and perhaps, if she were lucky a suitable gentleman would call on her again soon and her brothers would be happy, and they all could laugh and live in the light of all that remained unspoken.

Drifting; Lost at Sea or Found?

Photo by Laurie Kingdon on

Rock, Lm and NOW. Alone with vivid memories, I don’t move. I am here like driftwood waiting for someone to kick me around or discover my unique beauty. I am lonely and tired. I feel desperate and afraid; I am so tired of being “OKAY” for everyone in my family who doesn’t want to hear the TRUTH. I do not care if BadDad is being a “better” father to five other siblings; I am not one of them. I am the branch that broke off during the storm, free floated through salty teared seas and landed in a secret safe space. I am no longer negotiating for love, understanding and playing by others rules. I stopped caring today. I have no grand words to cultivate, no more deals to make. I AM. I RELEASE. I SAY GOODBYE TO THE PAIN THAT STEERED MY LIFE. I am loved for who I am by very special people. I will never again reach out across the globe to make others feel nice. I am not NICE; I am Honest.