I sometimes think it’s a miracle that I didn’t grow up with more issues than I already do. And I say this because if you’d ever met my mother, you’d think the same thing.
My sister Michelle insists she’s spent a small fortune at the therapist trying to unravel all the tangled webs of emotional insecurities, and crippling feeling of maternal abandonment.
“Hah, got such thing, meh?” Sharyn once said during an afternoon tea.
“You have no idea, Sharyn!” Michelle told her. “I’m surprised I’m not more emotionally stunted! Maybe that’s why I’m still single! I am incapable of forming any healthy relationships. Even my pot-plants die!”
Apparently, Sharyn went straight home and told her husband that the cause of all adult mental traumas could be traced directly to the mother. Her husband said that didn’t surprise him in the least. “But my mudder the same what!” he said. “Cannot live with her, cannot live wid-dout her. Dat’s why my brud-der and me always so mung-zhung when we take her out to lunch!”
“Oh, issit?” Sharyn replied, her mind naturally slinking off to her relationship with her children. “Then our chil-ren, how?”
“Confirm got issue, one!” her husband told her.
Sharyn breathed out, her eyes magnified by her thick spectacles into huge saucers. “Alamak!”
I remember once I woke up with a spasm in the left side of my chest. It hurt to move. Even the smallest movement made me wince. By the end of the day, my whole torso had turned rigid, and if I needed to see what was happening on my right, I had to rotate my entire torso. Sleeping that night was practically impossible as I couldn’t move without the chest having spasms.
As it turns out, my mother called the next morning to remind me it was Father’s birthday the following day and that I was to call him.
“It’s in my diary, Mot…ow!”
Mother paused. The line hissed. “What’s the matter?”
“I’m in complete pain!” I said. “The whole of the left side of my chest hurts to move!”
Mother’s dulcet tones floated down the line, the harmonics of repressed childhood memories plugging straight into the cerebral cortex. And not in a good way. “Honestly, you men are such babies! One little sprain and you go all to pieces. You want to know what pain is? You should try giving birth!”
Michelle says in a previous life, our mother might have been the drill sergeant in the Spartan army. “If someone moaned he was in pain because his leg had been chopped off, she’d probably say he should try having his leg and his arm chopped off. Then he’d know what pain was!”
We giggled about that for days.
“Yah, my mud-der ever say that to me,” Sharyn said. “When I was twelve and I got burnt when I fry chicken, she say if I cry when a little hot oil splash on me, then confirm when I give birth, I will die one. I so scared! Dat’s why hor, I wait long long time before I marry and then when I give birth, I tell the doctor to give me epidural plus back up drug! Now, I think about it, is all my mud-der’s fault!”
Amanda blinked slowly. “So, when you gave birth, you felt no pain?”
“Dohn have! I very relak. Good thing, ah. My sister give birth natural way, wah, you can hear her scream from the car-park!”
Amanda frowned. “So, what’s your point? It’s a good thing that your mother was such a hard-ass with you?”
“Yah, lor! Make me so scared, when I give birth, I was so high and happy!”
“I think you’re missing the point here, Shazz,” Saffy pointed out.
“Aiyah, you go through life blaming your parents for everything, than how? Must live your own life, right? Like all those Singaporean complain complain about the gah-men! All day complain. Hai-yah, just get on with it, lah!”
Saffy says it wouldn’t surprise her in the least if Sharyn’s children grow up with a bunch of emotional issues. “She’s so unsentimental, have you noticed?”
“Well, she does have a point,” Amanda said the other day. “Imagine if we’d grown up with parents who indulged our every fear and insecurity.”
Of course, Michelle is having none of it. “I’m sorry, but Mother doesn’t get off the hook that easily! I wish I was a songwriter. Then I could be like Taylor Swift and write all the emotions out of my system!”
I frowned. “So that would mean, what, Mother is Calvin Harris…your ex-boyfriend?”
Saffy says if that isn’t seriously disturbing, she doesn’t know what is.