You’re just like your mother, she says. She says it as she slams the door in your face. She says it as she leaves repulsed and fuming. The words echo in your ears. She’ll be back, you say to yourself as you fold your hands against your breast, tapping your legs against the hardwood floor. Waiting, you hold on to her cogent smell that breezed through as she ran out and had stained you just a few minutes ago. You tell yourself there’s no way she can make it anywhere in the rain. She’ll be back you say. So you wait. You wait another ten minutes, and then your hands grow weary of being in that position. You grow weary of standing.
You take deep breaths watching as the rain water kisses the window—a slow romantic French kiss—almost like the one that had just happened. You bite your lips.
She hadn’t taken an umbrella. She had just taken her handbag and left, her face wet with tears that looked a lot like the rain that is customary of this winter season. She stormed out of your home like a raging wind that forcefully wanted to shake the earth—just as this wind sings against your windows and vibrates your home.
You walk towards the kitchen counter and pour yourself a drink—white wine. She’d just bought it, and you feel guilty unscrewing the cap to drink it without her. You taste it and smack your lips. You linger on the taste for long, savoring every bit of the droplet on your tongue.
Your eyes sway sadly as reality hits you hard. She wouldn’t be coming back to you. The truth literally knocks you off, as it settles in your mind that she is gone. You chased her away, the same way you slapped mosquitoes at night back in your village in another country. You chased her away, the way you blew away the ants that perched on your counter occasionally. You discarded her like she was used toilet paper.
You are not like your mother, you say to yourself. But the words are weak and flat. They sink to the bottom of your glass. They mock you with dreadful laughter.
You stare at the straw yellow color of the wine, and drink it up as if in a hurry to swallow your words.
You are not like your mother; you try to convince yourself again. The words are harsh and bitter, even against the sweet taste that lingers in your taste buds. You cannot believe she made the comparison, despite everything you told her about hating your mother.
You conjure the last image you have of your mother in your head and suddenly, it smells of your childhood again. It smells like the bitter leaf you grew at the backyard when you were young. It intensely feels like the day your mother left you and your father, without even flinching. It smells like the untouched food of rice and fish stew on the dining table cooked by your mother, the day she left. It smells of the older woman that came to pick her up.
You remember the older woman’s harsh face, her sarcastic smile, and her distant eyes. You remember the older woman’s beautiful things, the excess golden bangles and rings on her hands and fingers, the excess strawberry scented body spray, the heavy red lipstick, the brand new red Toyota corolla that matched her suit. You remember the older woman’s condescending eyes as she stared at the dingy shack you called your home. You also remember your mother standing beside the older woman, holding her hands, a smug smile on her face, announcing that she was leaving you, and your father, to be with this woman.
A million feelings rush through you now, as it did that day, ranging from genuine surprise to hate. But it’s not that day. You’re a grown woman now and here—with hair, full breast and wide hips. You’re strong and tall, a replica of your handsome father, even in his frailness.
You told Alafia—your half-caste friend, everything. You told her how your weak Father died a slow slippery death because your mother had left him at a critical point in his life. You told her how she had left him when he was poor and dying—and stank of potion and pills. You told her how you had watched him die. You told her how your Mother had beaten your father once in his illness, when he defecated in his pants. You told her all these because you had slowly taking a liking for Alafia. She had become your drug—to save you from the pain of these memories.
You always think of the bitter leaf you used to grow as a child. The native doctor who came to your house once a week to administer drugs to your father had told you bitter leaf was a good drug for his strange illness. You think of the failures of the bitter leaf, and the way you and the bitter leaf tree had bonded as if it was your pet. When you’re hungry for complete peace, you plug in your head phones, listening to beauty of Enya’s gibberish. You’d try to chant with her. You’d try to float in the air, as Enya songs made you feel that light. But none of these gave peace of mind well, as speaking to Alafia about your life problems.
You pour yourself some more wine. Do you regret the actions that sent Alafia running? Your now silent home answers you back. You stare at the lines of water on your window—it still reminds you of the kiss. You do not regret experimenting. You do not regret what would have been called an abomination by the old women in your village.
You think of your earlier acts; how you had kissed your best friend. When you reached out to her cheeks, you had been having one of your heart to heart with her, her listening ears being the only harmony you needed. You felt hazy as you touched her soft cheek, a whirlwind spinning in your mind while your subconscious screamed for you to stop.
It felt like something you’d always wanted to do, with her.
No, you do not regret trying. You do not regret trying to know if you were attracted to her lush light skin, almost as creamy white as that of the Caucasians you live among, or attracted to her full red lips as you’d found yourself more than once, staring intently at them. It was almost a full minute before she withdrew from the kiss, pushing you away. Her face was white as one who had seen a ghost; a mixture of fear and a bit of anger.
Are you like your Mother? You ask yourself, the bottle of white wine to your lips. There’s no answer. The wind, the rain, the otherwise silence—they don’t answer you. You do not regret kissing Alafia, but does that make you gay as your mother was? You smile, then you frown. You do not know.