I don’t even know her anymore.
She has become so childlike, not only in terms of her shriveled self – her mind as well.
She would spiral into this outburst of rage, shrieking “Help, there is a stranger in my room!” in the middle of the night. And even when her own son enters her bedroom in an attempt for consolation to ease her imaginary chaos, she thought that he was an intruder – even thought he was a sexual predator. It was that distressing. She couldn’t recognise the boy she loved and nurtured for over five long decades.
I guess she couldn’t even identify who she is.
Sometimes when she’s in a mood less foul, she would talk about her life. Though it is all history, she would refer it like it was just a yesterday.
“We Peranakans need to blend in with the Malays and these people are always up to no good. Do not talk to them when you see them!”, “Do you need me to take you up? I swear I saw a man around the corner who seemed like he was up to no good.” — To her, the whole world is seemingly ‘up to no good’. And she constantly forgets that I’m way stronger than her and there was not a need to ‘protect’ me at all. I was supposed to be the one protecting her.
Never have I seen my old man cry, and more specifically, it was the first time I actually seen a grown man who’s lived more than half a century shedding tears of bitterness. Knowing that the woman who raised you can no longer acknowledge you – what implacable sorrow.
Gradually, it advances into disdain. I became so immune of the hubbub. Occasionally I’d receive texts from my sister saying things like “She strikes again”, “Shit, I hate her”, “Damn, she’s making me having ill thoughts”, “I hope she shuts the fuck up soon” when I was still not home yet. And the commotion and melodrama only she herself is engaged in really just makes me feel like spending my entire night out.
I hate it when she scolds my mother for nothing, calling her all sorts of names that makes my favorite woman in the world seem like a whore. I hate it when my mother breaks down and weeps desperately. I hate it when my mother sorely laments and asks herself what she did in her past life to deserve all this fucked up treatment from someone whom she has so patiently taken care of. I hate the noise and ruckus that she makes. Sometimes I feel contempt with the awareness that I’m actually related to her.
Is she really the woman I knew? The one who brought us out for a walk on Saturday mornings, bought us ice cream and candy, took us to the playground whenever we wanted to, chatted with us about school and told us those ridiculously awesome anecdotes?
No. What I see is just another familiar stranger, living in a rather non-existent presence in the bedroom beside mine.
Sometimes I wish that I could show more respect to her (because my mother told me to, because “she’s your elder”, because she’s old and because she lost her memory), but I can’t bring myself to do it. Impatient, disrespectful, disgusting, obnoxious, whatever you call me. I just hate doing it.
I hate the fact that people grow old. I hate how this person I once cherished has shrunk to become a person so small. I hate how she doesn’t smile anymore. I hate how she doesn’t listen anymore. I hate how I can’t even talk to her anymore. I hate how I don’t know her anymore.