Because I Am a Soldier

July 26, 2011
By ClaraOsei-Yeboah BRONZE, Brampton, Other
ClaraOsei-Yeboah BRONZE, Brampton, Other
1 article 0 photos 2 comments

My mother was an alcoholic and she didn’t even love me. I tried to be her best friend and I tried to be a good girl, but my mother was an alcoholic. I couldn’t touch her, because her skin sagged and her thin bones weren’t ashamed to show the hideousness of their nudity under the netted wire of her skin. I wanted to hold her at times, when I was by myself. I wanted to cradle her in my arms and stroke her black hair, to twirl them between my fingers and laugh, behind the pane of tears that wallowed before my eyes, at the silly dances I could choreograph. But I wanted to cradle her because I was alone and I was afraid of this darkness we call life. I wanted to hold her hand so that we could both find our way in this dark world and darker life.
I remember that every time I looked at her, I saw her die a bit more by the second. I would glance at the wall clock, the big black chicken that sang, perched on the pinnacle of the wooden piece. For a few moments, I forgot where I was and why I had cared to know the time, because I’d remember the father who had raised me under his wing. I’d remember the man who had sang me to sleep and slept in my bed, beside me, not to hurt me or take anything away from me, but to wrap his arm around me and assure me that there was nothing to be afraid of. I never knew how dear to his heart those words were held, but years later, I realize that the bravest of dying men are simply the bravest of dying men.
I don’t even like talking about my mother; I prefer to write everything that I feel about us on paper, to transcribe the filthy thoughts and lonely feelings onto a place where they can be accepted as they are.
Sometimes, I look at the one photo of my father that I still have left. I had it tucked in a box that he had given me on my third birthday. I knew it was safe there and that little piece of safekeeping made me feel secure and brave. I became a soldier when I retrieved that box - a soldier who tried to preach her father’s work by living it through her life.
My mother threw the rest of his photos out when he died, but she couldn’t touch the one photo I had left of him. I remember crying for two weeks and three days, staying up at night and standing before the curtained windows in my bedroom, just glaring at them and hating everything in the room. She had held the whiskey in one hand and so easily, it seemed almost subconsciously, scrunched each remnant of the smiling daddy I had loved, between her caked fingers. I just stood there, under the dim light of the wall lamp, because I couldn’t touch her or hold her - she was an alcoholic. I just stood there, because I couldn’t scream or move. No one would hear me, because everyone was living life. I couldn’t gasp for air, because the air was not merciful. That’s how I died - I think - and was saved.
It is true that I miss my mother, even though she never loved me or my father. It is true that I visit her at the centre, even though I hate the smell of the place and the stupid look on her face when I reach out my arm to her for a hug. It is true that she is not getting better, because she is trapped inside four walls and cannot move without being told to, cannot speak without being spoken to and cannot walk without being led. She is a prisoner of that centre, but was already a prisoner of her own prison - a prison that she knew existed while another part of her knew where the keys lay.
I visit my father’s grave every day, because I’m old enough to go there by myself, without having to worry about my mother trying to dissuade me. When I visit his grave, I think about my life and the life that we could’ve had together. But I also think about the grandchildren he never got to smile at or shake hands with or tell stories to. I smile and simply pray.
Because I am a soldier, walking in the dead of night and marching, while others laugh at me and whisper. I am a soldier, with children who do not know how wicked this thing called life can be.
But I am certainly proud to write, after more than 11 years, that I am a soldier.

The author's comments:
I love to write and was inspired to write this piece after I realized that I am loved and will always be loved.

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