Originally published in Fiyah Magazine, June 2018, Music Issue
Sometimes, when I listen to my mother sing, I wish for a bit of imperfection in the tune.
I go red in the face at the thought of her. My eyes go accusing, my fists balled, and though we aren’t supposed to let her go, I hope she’d at least stumble and her never ending songs would be cut short.
Sure, she has to riiise in voice when the nightmares invade and come back stronger—the monsters never going away forever, only being pushed back by songs to the point we can survive—but her voice is still a light, strong and radiant, never flickering.
I wish she would show us the stages, that she would miss it sometimes. That her never-ending voice will be cut off by a parched or itchy throat. Even the need to scratch her hair.
I wish it would be messy so it can feel real, so I can relate. Maybe because it feels so perfect, that's why Sister and I can't catch up, can't sing; leaving the next generation in questions we aren't too ready to answer. But she doesn't; she multitasks, doing every bit of the work in this household while we live on her voice.
And sometimes, Mother hits us.
Bares teeth. Slaps out colour from skin. Pulls out hair from follicle the way one separates muscle from bone. All because she is a fighter, and we let her release her anger on us, the anger brought from the everlasting song.
We do not speak out. My voice is as silent as the songs I cannot sing. Who are we to believe in fairytales when everyday is a living nightmare we are barely living through? Even when my throat hurts once more, as it has been doing this week, from holding so much back, I shut myself up.
Until one day, the words I thought were wishes become all too real, because her voice breaks.