Today we are excited to launch our Mother Tongue - Your Voice platform with our very first submission by Jay Ruth. It's a deeply touching and vulnerable piece which really spoke to both Tania and myself (Fleassy).
This is a very powerful place for us to begin our Mother Tongue - Your Voice journey and we hope it paves the way for depth, passion and vulnerability for the future of MT- Your Voice. Personally it aroused a real familiar sensation in me, a scary yet true feeling which, although different to her story, reminded me of my own complex childhood emotions. We would LOVE to hear what came up for you too, feel free to respond in the comments.
I sit in the front seat of the van next to her. It is very high, I’m not usually up here, I’m small for the seat. I have to pull myself up with both arms to get on, but it’s easy, I’m good at climbing. She is looking at the road, she is driving, busy with her eyes, hands, mind. Her heart, I don’t know, I think I’ve never known. I am small, next to her. I am tiny and alone. I am so tiny she can’t see me, I don’t have a presence, I don’t impact upon any situation. I imagine, just image for some reason that I asked her to stop. Just STOP. In the middle of the road. I imagine this often. I imagine everything stops, why? It might be a game, everything that’s happening might…I might just want to have an impact, or see if I exist. But it would not be heard, it would be ignored, it would be a silly nuisance, it would have no effect.
But today, up high in the van, I feel a little smug, because I have acquired for this afternoon a small taste of love, I have had a little effect on her. She said to me: “if you do the performance for physical culture without crying and protesting, I will buy you an apple slice”. Apple slice is not my favourite, I like cream buns. It confused me when she said apple slice, SHE likes apple slice so why would she use it to convince me? But somehow it feels important; she’s never given me a prize like this before. I do like apple slice and somehow I feel that saying yes will please her, that it’s a grown up deal. I am flattered. I say ok. I do the performance. I was brave and now she has bought me one, well, not only me, a packet of four- one for everyone. I go to complain but then I hesitate. I want this sugary apple-pie apple to be nothing other than the sweetness of love, I want to believe that she is doing a nice thing for me, that she might love me, that I, me, might be loveable. So I eat.
I eat it quietly, cleanly, careful not to ask anything else of her or distract her from the road lest I spoil the moment. The sun glistens on the glass, as we head home, westwards, into the sunset. The sun flies off her sunglasses and I can see out the window through them. Her hair fills the car with orange spider webs. I like her hair. When I look at it I want to touch it. She makes a sucking noise. It is easy to make her annoyed, mostly if I talk or do something that annoys her. Mostly I am full of dread and trying to act brave. Mostly I am careful, I take care, care not to add to her feelings of annoyance, feelings that I sense now in the car. I try to imagine how it must feel, I feel sorry for her that she has to do everything for us and be annoyed by it. I feel sorry for annoying her. I feel guilty now that she had to bribe me to do the performance. I see by the furrow in her brow and hear in her breathing that I should not be enjoying this apple slice too much. Even though I did what she asked it hasn’t made her happy but the opposite.
I breathe soft. I made her spend her money, I made her bribe me, I should have done it like all the other girls, without the apple slice. I really don’t deserve it; she is annoyed so I eat quietly. I keep the secret sweetness to myself like so much longing, the dream that I am loved stays alive, buried deep inside me, so powerful and precious it keeps me alive. Though I know up here, she is not too nice to me, I am not nice either. The other mothers smiled at her and told her I was cute. I am not cute. I am mostly a nuisance. But she smiled back and accepted their praise. Her smiles turn serious when we walk out of the building as they usually do. It’s just us in the car so it doesn’t matter anymore to be nice. No one has to be nice when it’s just us. But it’s no secret, even her friends know I am not nice. But I try to be quiet and stare out the window. I try to be good. I will have to be nicer to her tonight. I try to be tiny, mostly, when I can, as much as I can. Though somewhere buried deeply I am alive and breathing and feel like I am being gagged and stabbed.
Massive Gratitude to Jay Ruth for this evocative piece.
If you would like to submit a piece of writing/video/review etc to Mother Tongue - Your Voice then please email your completed submission to firstname.lastname@example.org including the name you wish to be published under and all contact details. For more details about what we are looking for please check out our Your Voice call out.