The Most Hateful Words
The most hateful words she has ever said to another human being were to her
mother. She was sixteen at the time. They rose from the storm in her chest and she let
them fall in a fury of hailstones: “I hate you. I wish I were dead.”
She waited for her to collapse, stricken by what she had just said. She was
still standing upright, her chin tilted, her lip stretched in crazy smile. “Okay, maybe I die
too,” she said between huffs. “Then I no longer be your mother!” We had many similar
exchanges. Sometimes she actually tried to kill herself by running into the street, holding
a knife to her throat. She too has storms in her chest. And what she aimed at her was as
fast and deadly as a lightning bolt.
For days after their arguments, she would not speak to her. She tormented
her, acted as if she had no feelings for me whatsoever. She was lost to her. And because
of that, she lost battle after battle, all of them: the times she criticized her, humiliated her
in front of others, forbade her to do this or that without even listening to one good reason
why it should be the other way. She swore to herself she would never forget these
injustices. She would store them, harden her heart, and make herself impenetrable as she
She remembers this now, because she was also remembering another time,
just a few years ago. She was forty-seven, had become a different person by then, and
had become a fiction writer, someone who uses memory and imagination. In fact, she
was writing a story about a girl and her mother, when the phone rang.
It was her mother, and this surprised her. Had someone helped her make the
call? For a few years now, she had been losing her mind through Alzheimer’s disease.
Early on, she forgot to lock her door. Then she forgot where she lived. She forgot...
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