I only heard this post-war story a couple of years ago. It was told to me by the woman in black - my aunt Ria. She was in deep mourning for the husband and son she had lost and was suddenly handed an additional problem - me.
Her eyes were the colour of a sunshine sky, her wispy hair fluttered in the slight breeze. She was one of the shining blonde little girls that only northern genes could produce. The virtual absence of eyebrows made her whole head look monochromatic.
She was three and a half years old.
Then came a sudden colour change. The face turned red, the eyes became dark and stormy, and the heartrending wail that suddenly escaped out of her mouth made the woman in black flinch. The little girl screamed unintelligible words. Angry tears washed her splotchy face and darkened her colourless little sundress. The woman reached out.
The little girl just pushed and slapped her away.
And she kept screaming.
The woman kept making soothing sounds and kept reaching out to the transformed stomping, yelling, tiny vixen in front of her.
Her overtures were met with anger and flailing, hitting hands.
Doors opened and heads appeared trying to figure out the commotion on the sidewalk. A window opened above them and a concerned voice spoke words that the little girl did not understand.
That frustration just made her scream louder.
The sorrow in the watching faces deepened.
The little girl’s head suddenly stiffened and her mouth closed in surprise. The black woman was saying a word that she could actually understand. Her name.
Not the name that all these strange people called her but the endearing diminutive that her mother used. The abrupt reminder of her mother transformed the little girl. Pain-filled eyes looked at the unfamiliar woman in front of her and then in obvious desperation she wrapped her arms around the woman’s legs and just quietly sobbed.
After a few moments she looked up at the tear-stained face above her and just said, “Mama?”
A low moan arose in unison from the mouths of people watching the scene on the sidewalk. Newly formed tears cascaded down already wet faces.
A voice came from one of the upper windows of the terraced houses and said something very quietly.
The woman caressing the little girl’s head answered and nodded her head in reply.
She bent down and gently loosened the arms that were clutching her lower body.
She smiled at the little figure in front of her and told her to come and the little girl understood.
Amid encouraging voices, she led the little girl to the open front door, went down the hallway and turned right into the living room. She held up one finger and started rummaging through a box with her other hand. The little girl turned quiet and the tears halted. From the raised finger, she understood that she should wait and she also realized that something new was happening.
The woman in black suddenly smiled, and held out a photograph.
The little girl looked in wonderment at the woman in the picture and with absolute rapture clutched it to her chest.
“Mama,” she whispered.
She looked at the woman in the photo again and then transferred her gaze to the kneeling woman in front of her.
“Mama,” she said again.
The woman in black nodded and rummaged in the box some more. Out came another photo and then another one.
“Mama,” the woman said every time that she handed a newly found photograph to the little girl.
“Mama,” the little girl echoed every time she grabbed a new find.
Surrounded by a litter of photographs, the little girl suddenly looked at the woman in front of her. She studied her for a long while. You could practically see her little brain ticking. Finally, with new eyes she asked,
She had made the connection. This woman was special – she knew her mother.
The woman could only nod through happy tears as the little girl, clutching a number of her absent mother’s photos, kneed her way towards her and crawled into her lap.
Want to review or comment on this
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!
|Reviewed by L. Figgins
|Sweet memoir...You had us from beginning to end!|
|Reviewed by Robert Fullerton
|Finally got around to reading your works, Uresla..What cani I say?? Please keep writing..I was absorbed..Great write|