“Really Mom?” I say while looking at her with a disgusted expression on my face, “you can’t even do that? It’s just one email”
She says nothing back. Just turns her face away from me and snatches the delicate iPad from my grasp. She walks out of my room with heavy angry steps. I scurry out after her. “You’re not mad right?” I breathe out, “It’s not that I don't want to help...It’s just that I’m swamped with work right now.”
In rushed and articulate Korean she spits out, “Mad? No. Shocked? Yes. Why? I never thought I would live in a world where my own child disrespects me for the lack of knowledge I have.” She looks into my eyes. I’m taken back to see that there are tears forming. All ready to burst out of her sockets. I didn’t think it was a big deal. It was only an email after all. She turns around and I know that the conversation is over.
My mother, no matter what mistakes I make, always forgives me. So within the week, after two or three half-hearted sorrys, it seemed as if she had forgotten the whole email debacle. That Sunday, she even took me to the mall. Right as we arrived, I could smell the overpowering scent of processed sugar and pretzels. Though we both knew that it was so unhealthy, she went and bought me the jumbo sized cinnamon pretzel. The oil matted onto our faces as we dug in while window shopping. With our bellies full of sweets, we walked around for hours talking and admiring all the things that we could never have.
“Stop here.” She said, gesturing me to come into a tailor shop with her. The new pressed clothes piled up the whole store. From the floor to the ceiling, there was no space that wasn’t occupied with clothes. A small man sat behind the counter watching T.V and stitching up an outfit at the same time. Disengaged from his patch work, the tailor looked up at us with an annoyed look on his face.
She wanted to trim the sleeves of her old winter coat so that it would be able to fit me. For me, that was something so simple to explain that I wouldn’t have to think twice about it; however for my mother, it was something that she had to practice over and over again in her head before she felt confident enough to say it outloud to another person. As I looked at my mother and her usage of hand motions as she tried to get her point across to this man, I felt nothing but ashamed. I wasn't embarrassed by her, but by myself. Because even though I was her family, her blood, I did not take it as my responsibility to take care of her the way she had taken care of me all those years. Because, I failed at writing one email, at helping making her life just a little bit easier. I walked calmly towards my mother, grabbed her hand, and did what I should have started doing since the moment I was blessed with a voice. I started translating.
A year later we race through the halls. Her heels cackle against the marble floors and the sound echos through the vast hallway which is speckled with confused parents. My dirt-splattered- converse- covered- feet race quickly in fast paces just to catch up with her. We hurry down the flight of steps just trying to beat the clock.
“Here!” Mom exclaims, “Room 208!”
I look down at my clock. 8 P.M. We’re on time.
The heavy metal door opens with a loud croaking click. A small pint sized man emerges from the other side. My advisor smiles warmly as he steps back letting us enter the classroom.
“Ms. Choi we have so much to discuss.” He says as my mother shakes his hand.
“Anna will you be translating as usual?”
“Of course” I say. My mom radiates with pride.
“Well let us begin.” he says back. I step in the room. The metal door closes behind me as we are engulfed in a blast of icy overly air conditioned gust of wind.