Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tres Chicas y Una Mujer

In the shadow of my mother, no woman stands a chance.

Every woman who vied for my attention, my mother sent away.

Isabella was too silly and not to be taken seriously. She wouldn’t be able to understand the often silent familial sabotage; her toothy grin and childish laughter were no match for my mother’s schemes.

In my mother’s kitchen, only she could be the queen.

Rosa’s recipes could rival my mother’s but she’d never allow another woman to cook in her kitchen — not while there’s breath in her body.

My mother would confront me when she smelled the aroma of Mexican food on my freshly starched shirts. “You’ve been eating at her house, again. Haven’t you?”

I don’t know if I feel in love with Rosa before or after I read Como aqua por chocolate

It’s a daunting task being my mother’s only son, her protection knows no bounds.

Nancy Q. thought she could stand toe to toe with my mother. It’s was an interesting image, both of them standing on either side of the formal dining table, hands gripped on the rounded, polished corners. Their eyes locked in battle.

Nancy Q. was determined to rescue me from the pressed monogrammed handkerchiefs and finger bowls.

My mother would have no part of that plan.

What would I have done had Nancy won the stare-off? She unnerved and captivated me at the same time.

She said she admired me because I was able to show emotions. I cried her in arms because I knew I had to let go of the past, and step out of the comfortable, albeit painful shadow where many people and things were sent to die.

I was still a child, not unlike the miniatures my mother kept locked inside her handcarved curio cabinet. I pleaded with Nancy Q. to be patient with me, to let me catch up to her emotionally, spiritually, and romantically.

I reached for her forearm. She pulled away. No words passed between us. My mother did her best impression of a gracious winner.

Nancy Q. walked out the side entrance, the screen door echoed as her footsteps trailed through my mother’s prized vegetable garden.

That night I ate dinner alone in my bedroom. My mother hummed a lullaby from my youth.

Had she fought for me because she loved me, or the realization that she’d be alone in the house where she buried three husbands in the backyard?

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