Like so many times before, you welcome me with open arms. I give you a firm hug, a hug that says I’ve missed you. You laugh and smile, but I know that it’s not for me.

It doesn’t reach your eyes. It’s the smile you give to strangers, to people wheeling past.

Remember the times when we laughed about how our professors spoke with a weird voice? Or that time when you slept over at my place and we talked about deep topics? You had opened your heart to me back then.

What about now?

With withering hands, I hold on tight to the jewel that has been my life’s treasure; with politeness you throw it into the horizon like a skipping stone.

In the dark, midnight sky, I watch as it falls like a shooting star.



Her wrinkled hands tightened around the black rubber handle of her walking stick. Blue purple veins ran from her knuckles to her wrists. She took one trembling step, and another.

Short silver curls framed her heart-shaped face. The silver was like moonlight and her once smooth skin was etched with years of worrying and hard work. A scarf wrapped itself tightly around her neck, its ends tucked away safely under her cardigan.

She had an arched back from years spent in the fields. She and her lover, Mike, would often joke about how she was, really, the hunchback of notre dame.

She lowered herself into her favourite bench, the one that faced a wide open field and had a playground on its left. She would often spend her days watching the children, listening to their laughter and sounds of play.

More often, however, were wailing screams of unfairness.

She would watch the seasons change as trees went stark naked and yet became full again. In the summer there were flowers everywhere, children everywhere. In the winter, it was generally quieter, a time when the town became a serene paradise.

She had one daughter, Sara. The night before Sara was born, she and Mike had been arguing about Sara’s name. Mike wanted Anna and she had wanted Serena.

And then came the gruelling labours and she spent hours panting with tubes stuck in her arms. So they’d both decided to take 2 letters–she chose S and R and Mike of course, had to choose double As–and ended up with Sara.

Sara was beautiful. She had Mike’s auburn hair and her hazel green eyes, his determination and her feisty stubbornness.

She would often watch Sara play in the playground and her bubbly laughter was always the loudest. They had both loved swings.

Her daughter grew and changed, just like the seasons. Soon, she and Mike were alone again, in a house that now seemed empty and enormous.

Then, Mike was gone. They said it was cancer.

Wrinkled leaves were by her feet and she stared at them, lost in thought.

When are you coming to take me, Mike?


You had gone in the middle of the night. The blankets on your side of the bed laid crumpled on the floor like the shedding of a snake. Your big camper bag was gone from the shoulders of the wooden chair.

The once feisty room now seemed empty and cold.

Ah, you had left a note on the bed. Your handwriting was so horrible it looks as if

“A flamingo tried to write, right?”

A laugh escaped from my chest and I remembered the way you covered your face with your palm in a pretense of embarrassment.

Thank you, the note said.

Were you truly thankful to have left me in this mess? With no direction, no map, this hollow emptiness and this pain… this, this heart-wrenching ache.

I ripped the note into pieces and wiped the tears from my cheeks.


Oh little one,
why didn’t you flee?
Why didn’t you let your legs
carry you far and free?

Oh little one,
keep running, don’t look back–
Remember my golden curls in all its glory,
not this bloodied, lifeless wreck.

Oh little one,
’tis is a rough and gravelled road.
“Take the road less traveled,” they said
Ha! It has stolen precious empathy,
a cursed, beloved abode.

Oh little one,
in the years to come,
will you come to loathe and
holding love

for none?



took it all away. One moment you’re sweet as honey, the next you’re as cold as ice.
What! The edge of anger in your striking blue eyes shatters my armor, it’s
a war-hammer
that slams into the walls of my heart.


Shadows of autumn leaves spread across the stained glass windows like little black ink prints on a concrete rainbow. They tremble ever so slightly in the gentle afternoon breeze and a serene calm fills the chapel.

I’ve dreamt of this moment a thousand, million times. The moment where your bright hazel eyes twinkle with joy and an uncontrollable smile breaks across your lips when you see me, dressed in white. Soft music will play as I walk down the aisle, one step at a time. My father’s smile shall be a contradiction of happiness, sadness, and pride. Thank you, I will whisper when he leads me, and when the ring is slipped onto my finger.

But alas, the bride is not me.

My fingers tap lightly onto the piano keys. Their touch is smooth and cool unlike yours, hot and rough. My heart breaks as I play the tune to your wedding, a soft, gentle melody. Tears brim at the edge of my eyes as I watch my love move farther and farther from me.

Little one.

Your gurgling laugh echoes in the hallway and your pattering footsteps follow next.They fall gently upon the wooden floorboards, like the soft drizzling rain. You laugh, and a smile tugs at the ends of my lips.

Mambu was your first attempt at calling me Mama. You got it right eventually, which made me feel bittersweet. Mambu will always, secretly, be my favorite word.

For you, learning the alphabet came as naturally as crawling. On the first day you were starting with Z; the very next day, you had it all down. Me and Dad thought you were an alphabet prodigy!

Your smile is like the sun, warm and bright. It is the best remedy for anything. Even if you did break my favorite porcelain flower pot. One smile and I decided I didn’t quite like it as much anymore.

“I’m leaving, Mom.”

The finality and determination in your voice squeezed my heart as hot tears rolled down my cheeks. We knew this day would come, a day when you went out to the world and learnt how to fend for yourself. A day when our little one would grow up and gain the independence we always hoped you would. But it was all too fast. How had all these years passed by in a blink of an eye?

“Okay,” my voice shook as the words formed in my mouth. It took all the courage and strength I had to keep my composure. I wanted to say no, you aren’t going anywhere; I wanted to keep you safe and sound for as long as I could.

“I love you Mom.”

I know little one, I love you too.