The thing about living in your parents' house is that you have to abide by their rules, which had been set almost the day you started understanding words and could speak your own. Although it doesn't help that there are many set of rules and some rules changed to adapt to further change, you still have to abide by them. Do or die trying.
So if I woke up a little bit late over the weekend, I'd have my bedroom door knocked on a few times. Or the sound of mom raising her voice an octane higher with the usual lecture of "Young girls do not wake up late, you will never marry if you don't get up NOW" or alternate with "In my days if I wake up later than 6am, your grandfather would scream the house down for the entire neighbourhood to hear."Oh that awful threat to reckon with on such ungodly hours.
Or if I come back slightly later than 10pm on a date night, the father would already be waiting at the living room with a scowl, a book in hand giving the impression that he was only there to read, and a few sets of Q&A at the ready. Mom would take her turn with the interrogation come morning... and that usually gave me a sleepless night. I'm guessing the idea was to keep me awake to ponder on my sins.
Or if I overcooked the meat, or put too much savoury stuff in the dish, or left the rice to cook on its own (hey electric cooker what..) I'd have a little talk over what's good for the health and what's not and how people in the older days liked it. And I'd stand with my poker face on, listening like a good girl.
Or if I stacked my laundry till kingdom come and only await for weekend to clear them out, I'd come home from work and realised mom had done them some fine days, because the sight was an eyesore to her. Sometimes she would launch an entire conversation on the wardrobe being a little unfit or unstylish or too plain for a working woman and that I should invest in my hard earned money to try to look better. Sometimes she won't say anything at all about the laundry, just pushed them over to me to fold and keep. Sometimes the gesture said it all.
Or if I come home without bringing any grocery, or basic needful stuffs for home (because sometimes stopping at the supermarket takes extra effort and time) ... I'd get that disappointed look aimed at me. Which I would try to compensate by taking her with me shopping the next few minutes.
But this morning, the black look was still there.
Did I tell you I moved out some time last year? Well not entirely, I have my own place now but I still do come home during the weekend. So this rule thingy and the responsibilities that come with it, and the obligation of being your mom's single daughter, do not quite apply to me anymore. They still do sometimes, but with my express freedom comes that feeling of being able to live without not having to answer a lot to them anymore.
So ... how to decipher the mom look? She's always been the one who understood me, who mediates between the dad and me since childhood, who stood by with a proud look when I got my first period, who waited at home with unshed tears as I showed off my best student trophy, who taught me how to cook my first dish, who patiently showed me how a real kampung-ketupat is weaved, who sat through an entire conversation about a guy who broke my heart and how she would like to see me settle to a good one, who witnessed my complete transformation from girlhood to womanhood with all the support and love any girl would be blessed enough to have.
My mother doesn't speak much. In fact, most of the things I got from her were hints, body languages, signals of the eyes, the hands, the looks. But when she does speak, I just can't help but listen. After all, a daughter usually becomes her mother when she grows up, right? It pays to notice these little gestures.
Anyway... I may not know what that look was, or if I caused it, -- I made the assumption that I did -- so I went to sit beside her at the breakfast table. What is it with breakfast table that always turned me into a child all over again? I sit next to her and I started holding her hand, bumped shoulders playfully like kittens, kissed her on the cheek and wished her Happy Mother's Day. The hot coffee on the breakfast table were a huge help for someone currently revisiting her childhood memories.
She turned to look at me, smiled weakly and said "I'm not feeling well since Thursday. My appetite ... it's horrible. I feel like throwing up all the time." *insert coughs and woebegone face* "I tried to eat but this sensation in my heart, it just couldn't take it. I'm not well..." And only then I noticed the exhausted look, the shadows around her eyes, the weak clutches, and the alarm bell goes on in my head. At the same time, in a flash I remembered where I was on Thursday... I flew in to KL on Wednesday evening, and came back on Thursday evening... without even informing her.
It isn't a coincident. It can't be. But all the same, fighting the thick urgent choking within my throat, and mentally kicking myself hard, I told her of my whereabouts and what I was doing and with whom and why I didn't tell her (cause I expected my sister would tell her) and why I expect to be gone again this week and short of confessing "Oh God mom I didn't commit any sin!" I basically cracked like a roasted can.
And then again she gave me that look that said "I KNOW WHAT YOU DID ..." She got up... and with my dad watching the whole drama... she turned with her coffee cup in hand and blurted out...
Dude, I swear... mom almost made me faint! Ha ha ha. Dad was laughing all the way to the pulpit.
And after that episode, I told myself, "Woman, you're a smart one. But you will never be smarter than your mama." And so I have strive to always try to catch up with her.
Pic courtesy of www.funxite.com
HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY ALL YOU LOVELY SMART MOMS OUT THERE!
p/s: Now I know where I got the knack for drama from. So I'm taking her out to dinner tonight to spill some more secrets. Wheeeeeee....