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To My Mum, the best drama queen, who loved to play the role of Greek tragedy heroine….from Her Daughter, a dreamer lost in clouds, who failed to be the ‘Beauty queen’ she wanted her to be…
The first impression of my Mum I remember is a sweet, exotic perfume enveloping her voluptuous figure clothed in fashionable sexy dress revealing her beautiful breasts and long neck lost in a mane of thick, shiny black hair. Her piercing blue eyes checked hungrily the ever growing crowd of admirers; among them I was lost, fighting for her attention side by side with them shouting: ‘ Get lost, all of you, it is my Mum, not yours”.
They called her ‘Sophia Loren of the Eastern Europe’, but she was not actress, not even the artist if you don’t count ‘the art of seduce and lovemaking’. My worn out Grandmother, exhausted from raising four demanding daughters, continued to cook, clean and wash for us, while closing her eyes and praying to God. My Grandfather, an important man within Communist Party, had eyes only for her. She was his most beautiful daughter, his ‘jewel’ in his crown, with his good looks and clever, calculative mind. She knew, just like him, what she wanted and always get it at the end.
There was just one sour grape in his mouth, her brief romantic encounter with my Father, who left her broken hearted and with a child.
I looked forward to spend a holiday with her, when I could be released from strict religious upbringing of my Grandmother and trusted into the wild nights full of partying and dancing in another seaside resort of her choice. Grandfather would pay, he wanted her to find a rich, respectable husband and make whole family well off for rest of our days. My Mother spend whole days preparing herself for another ‘hunting night’. She was magician with grooming, facial and hair styles.
She tried to use her clever fingers on my long blonde hair looking into my pale blue eyes: “You are just too much like your Father, no contrast, too meek…”
“She is just 5 years old cute little girl, what do you want from her?” One of her girlfriends picked me up.
But my Mother grabbed me and pulled me down: “Cut it out, do not play cute Nanny, you are here just because of money you earned from company of men admiring me.”
Her girlfriend turned her back to us knowing that arguing with my Mother would just bring another of her violent outburst, but her last hateful look said it all: “Everything is about you and your good looks.”
My mother looked down at me with a mixture of annoyance and despair: “ You just remind me of your Father so much, I hate him more that you will ever know…” suddenly she kneeled to me and start to cry ruining her makeup.
I patted her shiny hair who formed a perfect helmet on her head: “ I love you Mummy, do not cry…”
Her face changed suddenly to form angry grimace, which spoiled her beautiful face and stood up leaving my hand to pat empty space: “Love does not exist.” She ran wildly around the room throwing half empty bottles of champagne and perfume around shouting: “ Love does not exist, do you hear me?”
But Mum did not give up on me and gave me training how to attract suitable men to her table, where she sat surrounded by her girlfriends smoking a long cigarette. She eyed the nearby tables full of men looking at her hungrily and pointed to one. It was a signal for me to skip there, make a little twirl, ask for a lighter and sit at a knee of a closest man and ask them over. Deal was done. We ended up in their hotel room where we spend the night. I ended up in cubicle where they made me spare bed. Once I could not sleep as they had been more noisy than usual. I opened the door and saw women lying everywhere and men jumping on them, I shouted: “Where are you Mummy, why this man jumps like a deer?”
They all stopped what had been doing and started to laugh. My half naked Mum appeared from somewhere and hit me across the face: “Go back and close the door.”
“ No,” I shouted back: “ I don’t like it there.” Mum wanted to hit me again but the man,who jumped like a deer pushed her aside and picked me up: “ She is just a little girl, shouldn’t be here anyway, I have daughter just like her at home…”
“ Leave her, ” my Mum grabbed me and pulled me down dragging me back to my cubicle: “ You stay here until the morning.” She said in her icy voice.”
“ Stay with me,” I started to cry touching her hand: “ You are not his mum, you are mine.”
“ You are nuisance,” she sighed annoyingly shaking my hand and lighting her cigarette.
The anger suddenly rose in me and I grabbed the cigarette from her hand and burnt it into her beautiful smooth arm. She screamed from pain and stood up surprised: “You little bitch, just like your Father, should put you in that orphanage and not listen to your simple minded Granny…”
“ To meek for you , hey?” Laughed her girlfriend: “ I would watch out being on your place…when she grows up…”
Next night I was locked in our hotel room, and a night after that. After a while Mum stopped taking me on her holidays. Instead she picked me up from my Grandmother for our regular Sunday afternoons in the city. We walked and stopped in cafeterias for a piece of cake. She was very sweet to me and I cherish these memories. She felt very vulnerable and lonely in spite of huge amount of admirers who followed her everywhere.
I always looked forward to her visits. If she failed to come I had to accompany my Grandmother to the Catholic Sunday Mass and ask for forgiveness for my sins, as I was disobedient and wild child. My poor Grandmother had to visit the principal often due to complaint about my extravagant behaviour /giving my classmates lecture in lovemaking and showing them inappropriate pictures, fighting with boys, refusing to talk to teachers, running away from school…/
I was ten years old and start to be aware of my body image. I was tall and developed too early. I started to realize of bad image my Mother had in our neighborhood. Many boys in my classroom knew that their Fathers cheated with her on their Mothers.
There was one of the Mum’s admirers I liked very much. He was an artist and he taught me how to draw, we knew him for ages and they had the most violent fights with my Mother. Every time Mum left him for another man, I wrote to him and draw him pictures and begged him to come back. He always did. When I was eleven years old he changed towards to me and I started to feel uncomfortable in his presence. He started to pick me up from school and I used to hide in the basement watching his shiny shoes pacing impatiently outside wishing he would go…He never did and I eventually came out of school. He started to draw nudes of me and started to use my body, eventually I told my Mother. It was at this time I realized she cares about me and she would do anything to protect me against another such experience.
She used all her willpower and her high profile contacts to get the man charged and imprisoned. When I was 18 years old he was released and kept looking for me. At this time my Mother had been married for six years to elder, conservative Communist leader and I was living with them. I would not call their marriage successful as she was not able to leave other men alone and brought heartbreak and ridicule upon this well respected man however she informed him about my mental scars and asked him to leave me alone.
Although living under one roof we never get close. We orbited around my Mother as two lonely stars waiting for her sunshine which never came.
One day she packed up and left. Me and my Stepfather stood in our empty flat not knowing what to do next. Then the telephone rang and my Mother asked me to come and live with her and her new lover. I shook my head and said loudly that I am staying with my Stepfather and put the receiver down. He looked at me strangely and said: “Thank you.”
I shook my shoulders: “ I don’t think I have done any favour to you, you should get rid of her anyway.”
I caught his cold eyes and he slapped me hard across the face: “ Don’t talk about your Mother like this, she loves you and she will come back, she always does.”
I looked at him with all hatred I could muster: “ She comes back when her lover kicks her out but does she love me, does she love you, does she love anyone?”
I packed my bags eventually and move out to live my own life. I left the note for my Mum: ‘ I hate you Mum. I always wanted only you. I wanted so much to be loved by you but I don’t need it any more as you are not able to love. And I hate you for that Mum.’
I cut my hair short and wore loose clothes. Many thought of me being a young man in my teenager’s years due to my height. In times when my figure could not be covered I was followed by ‘hungry eyes’ of men as I inherited my Mum’s physical features, except my face which still reminds her of my Father. She desperately tried to raise me to her status, to be a ‘men’s siren, to use and then discard them, let them wait for my last order and then in the last minute change my mind and order something else… but I lost interest in the outside gifts and shallow empty life. I remembered the shame I felt when my classmates talked about my Mother, I never wanted my children experience that.
I stopped wearing any jewelry even my wedding ring or revealing clothes. I usually wore makeup just in presence of my Mother to somehow please her…
More I started to focus on my inside creative side…further I moved from my Mother’s cold, calculative, business world. I have found my refuge in my artworks. It was the place she could not follow me, she had no power over me and we argued every time we met.
The cards turned over on our table. The day I stopped yearning for her love, presence or just plain acceptance of me, who I am….she tried to reach out…
My daughter had been born and she adored her, buying her expensive presents, grooming her and trying to make her picture perfect beautiful, the daughter she never had. She also disapproved of the choice of my husband…a poor student with no connections, no prospects, no future and she tried to do everything in her power to drift us apart. My daughter was spoiled rotten and my husband was getting colder…I expected another child and I lost it. Then I got pregnant again with a boy.
“ I hate boys, I don’t want you to have more children. Look at you, just children and housework, you end up like you simple minded Grandmother and your husband finds
another woman, I think he has another already anyway, I saw him and her…just yesterday…” My Mum started again and I closed my ears, but I could still hear her:
“ You with your figure, should be a model, and look at you wasting your gifts on this nobody, raising his children, which take your beauty away and dreaming about what?”
The Velvet Revolution came and Communism fell apart. The migrants were coming back in rows to visit their long lost homeland and my Father was among them. I recognized him straight away. I had his face. He embraced me like his long lost daughter and invited me, my husband and my children to live in his adopted homeland of 20 years: ‘Australia’.
I packed my bags again and decide to leave, again, but this time, far, far away where my Mum could not reach me. The week before our departure I came to my recently passed away stepfather’s flat and found my Mum dusting the expensive paintings she inherited.
“ This is what I always wanted,” she said: “ Age comfortably surrounded by expensive stuff and to be well of for the rest of my life.”
I nodded reading myself for her violent outburst once she acknowledges my departure:
“ Your Father would be proud of you, if he had not die cursing you for not coming to his bedside…”
My Mum shook with a hidden anger and her piercing blue eyes followed me around the room: “ He decided to die in my sister’s house and I hate her, so it was his choice, anyway it is my decision and you have no right to judge me for it…anyway I came to see him when he decided to give me the biggest part of the inheritance.”
“ Yes, Mum,” I sighed already cursing myself for bringing up Family matters: “ I just came to let you that I am leaving. I am going to live in Australia. My Father invited me and I want to finally know him and…”
“ I know,” she said calmly and continued to dust the expensive statue from Egypt.
“ You know?” I gasped.
She looked at me: “ He called me before he first time visited you. I refused to talk to him or give him your address but he found it anyway,” Mum shook her shoulders: “ At least he does something for you, go for it, you and your kids will be better off there than here.”
“ Are you serious, you don’t mind?” I hugged her suddenly feeling very guilty. I closely looked at her carefully painted face and neat hairstyle and suddenly realized how quickly she aged. I could feel her fragile bones under her see-through blouse.
She suddenly shook again with frustration: “ Get off me, you know I don’t believe in this sentimental stuff, it makes you weak.” She suddenly turned her back on me and I managed to catch a tear coming down her cheek: “ Go, I was never cut to be a good Mum, make a good life for yourself…”
I started to cry: “ Thank you, Mum.” But she waved at me to go.
When I was leaving I heard her to say: “ Stop dreaming girl, your perfect world of true love, trust and I don’t know what bullshit you have in your head does not exist, earlier you found out, better for you…”
I took out a piece of paper and wrote down: ‘ I LOVE YOU MUM, I always did, but I had no chance to tell you and now I know you love me too for who I am. Your only daughter, who will be soon very far away but always close to you in her dreams.’