From what was told of my mother, back in the old country, there had never been — and considering that she would immigrate her fine ass to the U.S. of A. later on, in life — never again will be a beauty of equal proportions. Now, okay! I get it! Being the first prototype of a woman I had been born to emulate, I was supposed to be in love with her. (In certain years, though, my affection would seem to border on affection of lesbian proportions. I adored my mother, wanted to be — not as much as like her — but with her. A female version of the Oedipal complex.)
And, of course, considering the passageway that we, children, take in order to encounter this world — god bless it for being so bloody beautiful! — I knew my mother, from her very insides. There is no stronger bond, they say. But I must’ve studied up the woman’s inners pretty well; because my own tiny fist would carry on clasping the genetic bouquet — of her generosities and neuroses alike — from the time it was the size of a shriveled potato and until the future days of my own aged self, when my fist would shrivel up again.
While taking residence under my mother’s lungs, I swore I felt her heart’s rhythm go berserk when she discovered a letter from her in-laws about what they had really, REALLY thought of her: “A girl so dark and pigheaded! What is she, anyway: Some gypsy’s bastard?” According to the myth, that letter included a few racial slurs at my expense, too. (Way to go, pops’ peeps!) So, mother — lost her shit.
She always stood no more than five feet from the ground, but don’t be fooled by the compactness of her being: Her rage had super-human powers! Upon discovering the letter while doing her husband’s laundry, so blinded became her vision, so overwhelming the heartbeat, she had stormed out of the flat we’d been assigned by the Soviet Army headquarters; and she marched — on her now increasingly fattened from water retention ankles — back to her own parents’ house. Fury on two points of contact with the Earth! A few kilometers stretched between her marital base and the house of her girlhood, but this babe refused to hitch a ride from a parade of old Volgas catching up with her, along the route.
(Although six months pregnant, the woman was still a total babe. And even more so, considering that now her breasts and hips had been gearing up for my arrival. My mother’s assage was always worthy of anyone’s obsession: Hence, my own Oedipal Complex. But the two perfect hemispheres of her breasts I would not witness in real life again until, by then on the American continent, I would discover the new ideal of a woman: in Playboy ads.
But then again, it’s not like Motha Russia was ever ill-equipped at building the female form. Perhaps, the starchy diet of the natives was to blame for it — we threw potatoes into everything! Then, slathered sour cream on top! For centuries, the Russian broads were always famed for their bodywork.
For instance, how does that one poem go: “She’ll stop a horse in full stride / Walk into a burning house”? So, that dude knew a thing or two about them, Russian women. And understandably, he sounded like a doomed man, nyet?)
“Hey, black-haired beauty! You wanna ride?” the silly players rolled up behind my mother’s glorious hips that, underneath her nearly transparent house dress, swayed like a pair of brand new church bells. Angelic stuff, I tell you!
They were the men about town in those days of the U.S. of S.R. I mean, a man with a Volga! What woman wouldn’t dream of one?! But the danger of finding themselves decapitated by my mother’s fierce tongue — without the help of any anesthesia, because, in wrath, the woman rejected all her manners — made itself clear with the single sideways askance glance she granted them. Medusa, had she been non-mythical, would find herself taking lessons from this sister! To turn all men to stone! To entertain some wicked fashion of wearing a snakes’ nest on her crown. The message got transmitted to the players with no static, and they kept their rolling by.
Oh, how mother was determined! (I’ve seen some mad women in my life. But if the rage that boils my own blood at times is just a mere taste of what it’s like to be inside my mother’s being — I do pity the poor fools standing in her way! Oh, do I ever pity them!)
Young mother watched the coffin of a Soviet bus roll past her, too. That thing had zero to no chance of making it over the next ditch on the road anyway; and if my mother mounted it, she knew that she would have to simmer down when someone offered her a seat. And that conflicted with her personal religion, which ruled: Revenge was better served at scorching temperatures.
So, mother kept on fuming. She waved off the driver’s curious linger and kept on marching. The Soviet coffin passed, and the exhaust fumes ventilated that clammy spot that, in the heat, forms where women’s thighs collide into each other. My mother realized she had stormed out of the house while wearing no underwear. What outrage — What scandal! — it would’ve been on any other day, but that one.
Now, mother’s family was never one to practice any organized religion. They seemed to care for no church and for no party. But hallelujah! There was soul! And the only thing that seemed to arouse my predecessors’ souls to erection — was myths. Historical accidents of magic. They swore by them: Some cats in my family said they saw the ghosts of the old guys at those crucial points when a mortal needed a little guidance by the hand of god. There was, for instance, one old cracker who claimed the spirit of his drowned baby sister awoke him from sleep and got him out of his house, just mere minutes before the black Chaikas of Stalin’s secret police parked outside his gate. The women claimed that they would see their dead mothers, on first nights of their marital copulation; or during childbirth. If I were to believe all that, I’d say I had been born into one of the most resilient clans whose offspring liked to fuck around with the supernatural. Or, it could be that, after centuries of oppression, we all began to lose our marbles. Collectively.
You call it what you will, but there it was: contributing to my family’s survival and the unheard of strength of our women. And now, it was carrying my mother — albeit commando — through the dusty, roadless suburbs of Eastern Motha Russia, on an Indian Summer’s eve.
“You see, the things that man makes me do?!” the chick was growling at me.
Or maybe, she was chanting at her absent-minded gods who had allowed for her suffering of being overshadowed by this other woman in her man’s life. It’s bad enough that in three months, she’d have to give over the spotlight to me, whoever the fuck I thought I was?! (Back in the days, there was no ultrasound to assist Soviet women in their burdens of motherhood. With my gender underdetermined, mom wasn’t sure if I would be born to worship her in my male form; or if she would find her greatest competitor, if I were born a girl. My gender was up for grabs in the elders’ prayers, too. The old women scrunched their constipated faces over glass jars of holy water. The wise guys shrugged. Apparently, with all those ghost stories, no spirit bothered to show up and shine the light on my future gender. My mother, though, could truly care less; for motherhood was sort of “thrust upon her”.) So, yes: It was already bad enough that this fine broad was only around the corner from surrendering her currently unconditional, undivided reign. To add to the damage, the suddenly obvious conservative culture of the natives reared its head, and this recently wedlock-ed woman realized that: She would ALWAYS take secondary loving from her man. That’s just the tragedy of women. And in my own womanhood I’d learned: No woman had the guts, nor the consciousness, nor the strength to beat her mother-in-law in a competition for the love of that one man-in-question. No woman — but my mother.
So, what possibly could she be scheming in that moment? Well, if I was getting the newsfeed from her heartbeat correctly: My mom — was up to murder.
“You’re getting a what?!” I heard my grandfather’s voice as if I were submerged under a pool of bloody water. Oh, wait. I was.
My mother’s voice, in response, cut up the air like shards of hail. She sounded cold. Ice cold. She wore that tone well:
“Abort.” (Here is your first crash course in my native tongue: Our words sound often like the very actions that they advertise.)
“You are NOT! DOING! Such a THING!”
Oh how, he roared, my grandfather! According to the testimonies, the dude was as chill as the nerve-racked culture of centuries-old terror and rebellion could ever manage to produce. The man was zen, by other-wordly standards! He had been born and always lived by the Pacific Ocean; so perhaps, the frequency of tides had something to do with his temperament. Some ancient astrology shit, or something. Or maybe, it was that soul-thing of the fam again. But never-ever in his life, had he been witnessed to raise a hand — or let alone his voice! — at anything or anybody living.
“Are you?! Completely out?! Of your silly little mind, WOMAN?!” In that particular instance, his daughter stopped being his child. In a primal standoff, she was no daughter of his. No daddy’s little girl. Neither was she the treasured firstborn of her reproductively challenged (or, some would say “cursed”) parents. “The little sun of the Earth.” “The baby-rabbit.” “The navel of the planet.” At her renouncement of me, my mother suddenly became a rep of that insane and crafty race, called Female. And in his very first and very only act of violence, the sinewy arms of the old man had lifted up my mother — and by extension me — and not so gently threw us onto the nearest soft surface. Mother and I went for a ride onto the faded couch from which my grandfather usually listened to the radio — or watched his knitting wife, while she cooed to him stories from her day. (C’mon! It’s obvious: The fam had witches long prior to my mother; and this old man was just another doomed fella, head over heels in love with his broad. Go figure!)
“You wait! Till your mom! Gets back!” The old man was now heaving above my petrified carrier. “You stupid bitch!”
By no means was it a scene unseen in human history before: A parent contemplating a murder of his offspring as if to spare the world the damage that same offspring could cause later. “From my hand you were born — and from my hand you’ll die!” kinda shit. But in the ancient culture whose every glory came from great suffering (of which my Motha Russia’s got a shitload!), such stories of generational collision are plentiful. You have Ivan the Terrible, for one! The man had famous rage in him! (See the above quoted threat he had been testified to throw at his son, before putting an end to that son’s life, albeit accidentally. Or, so some say.
Over a woman, too: The Terrible’s daughter-in-law.
Just sayin’: Russian broads!)
(To Be Continued.)