Words to a Mother
There was a boy that I met in the class, sitting at the front in the right corner of the classroom. Every time I walked briskly to the class for English lesson, I could see from afar the pupils scrambling here and there, making awful noise like hounds, and he, the little boy, stayed at his place scribbling onto his papers in silence. I never heard his voice, to be exact, since the first day I was transferred to the school. Thus, it was made clearly in my mind at first that he was mute.
There was some kind of jeers from his classmates calling him mute at times, and I scolded them for doing so. Well, that was the only thing I could do then and telling them not to tease others of their handicap is what I did, an advice which I regretted saying. That is because later a few teachers told me that some times ago he did talk and only a couple of months before I came here he had simply stopped speaking, not in the class, not to the teachers and his classmates, not to anyone else. I was not the one to be blamed in this misunderstanding nor was it the boy's fault for not expressing his golden voice. There must be some hidden matters about him that had hold his words back or a blast of emotion which he hadn't said and would require a lot to be said, be it by exaggerated coaxing or even threat. Thus, it explained to me quite clearly why he always gave me a frown laden with silent indecipherable words every time I purposely asked him questions, just so that I could hear him speak if not willing, forcefully, that is.
Still, every time that happened, he never said a word though…
I never told anyone how much the boy resembled my daughter, a student in the same school with us. Indeed, for almost two months she stopped talking to me. Whenever I asked her questions, academic or non-academic, including the silly ones, I dared to give a million for charity if she answered. She would only sit silently eating her dinner, ignore me as if I was not there or turn her back on me heading to her room. At school it was impossible not to meet each other and every time our errands meet where both intersections joined, she looked at me like strangers as if a lamb mocking upon a slaughter.
Well, if a lamb mocks me, scoffing the knife in my hand saying that I am too ignorant to use it, slaughter it I would – even just to prove a point. I am not the most patient person a teacher or not.
Somehow, I understood exactly what she was trying to teach me - a reason I hadn't given up by slaughtering her, that is - Once a person told me that parents do not teach children everything, the children will teach them something instead. Two months ago my husband and I was divorced and two months ever since that day she never talked to me. I knew then that the silence was but to upbraid our separation. I had nothing to say about it, though. The relationship had come to an end and my husband and I both understood that divorce was something that cannot be avoided anymore.
Sometimes it made me wonder what a bad mother I was. I had done the most unforgivable thing to a child, yet still, even after all that, I wanted her to act as the way she was towards me. But, truly it was the loneliness of a mother, I think, or perhaps the selfishness of a mother in less sentimental words which had forced me to have this kind of feeling. I wasn't being fair to her, I knew. Yet, where I could possibly keep this emotion away, I wonder. I didn't really know how to interpret it, though. But, it was some kind of a terrible agony or wishing that I'm willing to pay any price in the world just to utter these even for a couple of seconds to her, my dearest.
Would you please give me an answer, or yell to me, or frown at me, or give me a disapproving glance, a shake of the head, anything… It would have sufficed, truly, it would have sufficed…
Well, being a terrible mother I am, I kept asking her questions and making a complete fool of myself and other than that, I had never said a word.
One day I entered the class early in the morning and was shocked to death to find that the boy was sitting quietly at his place with dirty ragged uniform and a nasty bruise on his chin. On his desk laid ugly doodles and markings taunting about his muteness. The fact that he and everyone else were going to tell what had happed was highly dubious, so I scribbled something on the board, left some works for the pupils, took the little boy's hand and dragged him out of the class. I took him to the sick bay hoping for a miracle in fixing the bruise.
"Would you please sit here? I'll fix that for you," I said taking responsibility for there were no attendants in the room. Seriously, where on earth are they at a time like this! But, he just stood there frowning at me. I told him to sit again the moment I got hold of the first aid kit yet there he was at the corner of the room remaining the way he was before, rooting maybe. Frankly speaking, I grew a bit impatient with him.
"Please, Ryan dear, come here. I'm not going to scold you or hurt you. I just want to fix that bruise." Well, come on, we were in the sick bay, not in the disciplinary room, couldn't he, at least, tell? But, being almost drowned in this profession for quite some time, I knew it will take more than that to make him cooperate. After all, he was just a child, and adults, according to Snickets, were always the culprits most of the time, trust-wise.
"Ryan, come and sit with me, please." He didn't budged, and to add more oil to the blaze, he frowned disdainfully rather, as if telling me to stay out of it. With all the stress at work, problems at home, and the instability of a single mother, I know as plain as day how unprofessional I was, yet, that was all I could take.
"I beg that you prefer to be in the class and have a new bruise on your face rather than being here?" I, the ever inspiring teacher said. I could feel the nasty sarcastic switch turned on. There was a deathlike silence as I waited for him. He stood there as still as a tree and refused to sit next to me. Despite of all the kindness and despite of all the discourtesy I showed… why?! The fact that I hadn't shoved the wadding in his mouth and rolled the bloody bandages all over him like a mummy was a miracle. Seriously, I still had other thirty hounds to look after back in the classroom. The kind of hounds that might hurt themselves jumping from desks to desks, steal other's pencils or pull the girls' braids or skirts!
"Oh, seriously please say something! Your mother is going to be very unhappy to know this! Does she think that you are now officially mute too? Does she, by any chance, rejoice with this?" I said half-screaming. Deep inside my heart I could feel a brief but painful hot dismay seeping through.
Suddenly, there was a ring of voice, I guess. It was shrill and bold like a bell, a voice that had never reached my ears. And, I saw before my eyes a little boy bristling in anger. It was indeed an astounding sight.
"I don't care if she's mute. I hate people calling that to her!" he shouted.
"Who says that she's mute?!" I screamed being altogether excited to hear him speak. In unawares I moved to stand before him, towering above him.
"You don't but others do!"
"Oh, really!" I demanded with a provoking sneer noticing that it was the boy's anger which had evoked him to blurt out his words.
"You didn't understand, did you?!" he bravely glared at me while tiny drops of tears appeared at the corner of his eyes. "If your mother is mute, she never talks to you and even to others. People jeer at her, calling her names and all that. But, she actually speaks. She has a language which only you could understand. She speaks through her eyes. You can even feel her words in your heart when she just looks at you or touches you. Yet, still people who never understand jeer at her, laugh at her, look down at her. Even she smiles at you, telling that it doesn't matter at all, but to you it matters!
"I don't want her to face it alone. Let them jeer at me instead. If she is mute, then I am mute like her." I looked at him pitifully while he glared at me still with anger. The boy, I began to realize, though small in his age was old in his words. I sighed with a quiet smile on my lips. It was made clear to me now, how strange the relation of a mother and her child was. Their love never alters but is entangled in a peculiar knot. There was a long silence as I waited for him to cool down.
"Do you know what the greatest music in this world is?" I asked and he looked at me confused. I walked around the room and settled myself on the chair. Unconsciously, I held out my hand to him. As expected, the boy still didn't move, despite the waver in his eyes. "When a mother gives birth to a child," I began, tearing my sight to the only window in the room. "…. she could hear the greatest and the most beautiful music ever created in this world. It was not Mozart's, nor Beethoven's." This time I turned at him and looked straight into his eyes. "It was the cries of the child itself, the child's voice, your voice! You know, it completes every weakness that she ever has and all her sorrows and woes are gone. It is the greatest pleasure that she will hear it always as long as she lives.
"But, when a mother cannot hear her child's voice, it was the saddest thing ever happened in her life. It hurts here," I said putting a hand on my breast. "It really hurts. So, would you please go back home today and at least talk to her. Please, Ryan, talk to her. It means a world to her. It means a world to me." At that moment, for some awkward reasons, I felt tears in my eyes, yet I did not cry. The boy who stood before me was in tears but I didn't pity him anymore, I was proud of him instead. It was really at that time, I heard a little creak at the entry and noticed that the door which stayed ajar before slowly moved and shut with a faint click.
I went home late that evening and was surprised to find the light at the living room was on. I was heading to my room when my ears caught a beautiful soft familiar voice scolding me.
"Why are you late? Do you know I cooked some dinner for us? It is already cold!" I was lulled for a couple of seconds to find her standing in front of the kitchen with hands akimbo. I studied her face for a long time, squinting at her sweet pony tail, her frown and her pouting lips. I refrained from looking at my watch just so that I might found myself dreaming. I later noticed a tiny plaster on her finger and asked, "What happened to your hand?"
"I hurt myself in the lab. My friend has helped me with this, so don't worry," came the answer. I wasted no time and grabbed her, hugged and kissed her with tears in my eyes. She didn't walk away from me, didn't refuse me, didn't pretend that I wasn't there. She stood still and then slowly and willingly so… hugged me back.
"I just want to say that I love you, Nia. I love you so much and do you know?"
"I do not have a million to give for charity!"
At that time, I think, I saw the little boy in his mother's arm. She hugged him tightly and cried just to hear a simple phrase from him- Mother, I'm home!