I first came across her at the corner of ‘Filis’ and ‘May 14th’ streets. A stack of clothes and dust, she was. This morning, her form was visible in the snow from far away. To her many garments of questionable cleanness and unspecified age a brown fur coat was added that was held together with countless pins, reminiscent of a glorious past. About a dozen open carton boxes surrounded her that resembled a cityscape, and she sat there in the middle, singing for the umpteenth time a lullaby to her plastic doll. She whispered verses of her own, while stroking the doll’s head. Her body moved softly in the rhythm of the lullaby. Every time someone approached, she raised her head rather disturbed, she became upset, and wouldn’t return to her routine until the ‘intruder’ moved away.
It is then when I discovered the agony of loss in her eyes. They had become two black holes etched by the contractions in her face, whose tragedy was complemented by years long lack of facial wash. Her lips remained sealed and she’s been waiting for you to leave. Cast no shadow upon her.
I named her Sara. It happened after our third encounter. I never asked myself why. I thought of that name as part of her existence, and as an old dear friend of mine. I whispered the name, and eventually gained the privilege of her permission to stay near slightly longer. Our short muted encounters have now existed for nine years. I have been waiting for her to say: “Go away” or “Sit down, Maria!” A deafening silence instead. Her only concern that I sensed was my spending time to look at her, while our mutual motherhood traveled away together for a few moments. I don’t know exactly what her loss was. I don’t know what kind of separation she faced. I improvised various scenarios that I put together depending on the occasion.
In the days that passed, facets of her motherhood expanded further, and, for this reason, passers-by noticed her even more. To all others, just like to me, she became suddenly reminiscent of the One, the Special Mother of our Lord, who didn’t freeze at street corners, but sat in a stable surrounded by compassionate animals that took care of her.
The absence of my own offsprings wounds me deeply. Not because the hugging stays lifeless, and abundant love remains unfulfilled. Not because the arms stand deprived, idle. It’s because they were used to weave nests, to provide feeding, to indulge.
I didn’t buy some doll. I’ve sat at no crossroads. I took the streets instead to try to forget, to find the remedy by watching the family peace and happiness of others, of those hiding behind the ornamented windows. I don’t know what to say, how to justify my own ego, my lack of restraint, and how to divulge loud and clear to the community: “Yes, I miss my children”, in a society, where the sole deprivation that people sing about and endure is from losing ‘erotic love’. Romeo and Juliet killed themselves therefore, and subsequently many more were destroyed by the loss of infatuation. It is not suitable for modern mothers, those who have already weaned their infants, those who must rise to the circumstances, to modern times, the dynamic, the seasoned, with their own motherhood downgraded to a lower level. How effortlessly was I used to explain such concepts indeed, and how unbearable it has been to experience them on my own. From time to time I am quietly humming a folksong about emigration because contemporary song lyrics won’t accommodate a motherchild separation anymore. How about endurance? It still remains painful. No consolation by seeing Sara.
As I am approaching her, I feel the urge to throw myself into her arms and weep, to share our feeling of separation and perhaps to ease our sorrow. However, various respectability inhibitors rise right between us. My anxiety grows, it is often called the ‘emotional burden’ of the holiday season. I only know this: I want my children back, near me. I want to wipe-off the distance, remove my pretentious ‘indifference’. I want to smell them dearly, to feel again the perfect scent of their baby skin, to kiss them. I just want to run away...
I suddenly panicked.
- Sara, can you hear me? I wipe my tears; she stood right there in front of me.
She lifted her eyes, she offered me her doll and said,
- This is Sara, the daughter of the Earth.
I became another dark stack in the snow.