finally, the first of my articles reached the hands of my family. unfortunately it was in albanian, making it quite easy for them to read. i was kind of hoping, kind of dreading their reaction. and i was right.
if it would have been in english, i would have touted it in front of mom, dad cousins and everybody i know. because they do not know english all that well, and the rest do not know me all that well. i can spin however i want it with them. but it was in albanian, and it was read first by cousins, then by aunts, then by parents.
since we have a very roundabout way of communicating in my family, things did not happen immediately. we never ask directly, but rather wait for each-other to approach subjects first. my own skill is to leave things around and wait for their “casual” glances and off-hand comments. i like to make them curious, so then they can investigate what is going on.
this time, i asked my mom to bring the magazine from home, and she did. however, no coment. my aunt called and congratulated me, my sister’s mother-in-law called and congratulated me, but my mother did not say anything. so, i left the magazine on the coffee table, hoping she’d finally say something. (I’m my mother’s daughter too). but, at last i gave in and i asked her.
“did you read it?”
‘well,’ she said ‘i did, sort of.’
‘how did you like it?’
‘it was funny’, my aunt chipped in.
‘well, why did you write all those things about grandma?’ my mom has a way of bottling things in, until she can’t anymore and then she’ll hurl questions at me like there is no tomorrow. all i can do is Duck!
‘but she really did say those things’ i answer, trying to hide behind a nonexisting tree, in the field of my mom’s discontentment.
‘she was just trying to make you better. that’s what she knew, that’s what she did! you should be grateful.’
her eyes teared up a bit. (there is nothing more unsupportable in this world than tears in my mother’s eyes. she has green eyes that truly lighten up when she is happy, and sink the ship when she is sad. pools of sadness, man. you can see why my dad never wins.)
‘but i am. it is just humor, that is all.’
‘oh i’ll go read it to grandma.’ my aunt chipped in again and i cried almost without thinking:
‘no, please, not grandma!’ i never truly thought that my family would read it. or my relatives. or the other women who do not know me.
my dad emerged from the room with the magazine in hand.
‘you, he said ‘have one very big problem. you always make yourself an example. you’ve had it since you were a kid.’
See, it is hard to argue with people who’ve washed your behind. and it is not nice to know you are doomed since you were little to become the damaged individual you have become.
‘your uncles have it too. they always go spill their beans to whoever would listen.’
scratch that. i have been doomed in my mother’s womb.
‘did grandma really say those things to you?’ my teenage cousin says, giggling. ‘”They’ll bring you to your husband Sunday and take you back Monday?” hihihi’
i see my mom’s eyes warm up a bit at the memory, while my dad hides a smile. i told you it was funny!