woensdag 5 november 2014

Strong Women

One persons misery can be the fortune of another.
Big Sister signals to me that I have to be silent. Mama and Grandma are having a talk. “I really can’t hold him”, Mama complains. Grandma tells her she was very capable of doing this herself. She has loads of experience she says. Maybe they can do it together. And they make an appointment for the next Wednesday afternoon at 2. I have no clue what this was all about. Was it something about my father? Big Sister giggles and doesn’t want to explain. Instead she goes outside.

The next day I was sitting under the dinner table, my favourite part of the house. It always felt very secure in there and I could build my castles with the wooden blocks without someone kicking them to pieces. I heard Mama coming into the room with Grandma, they talked about the weather first and then started to whisper.

The woollen table cloth is removed and something big is placed on the table. The two women walk in and out and plunge water into the big thing. The tub? Sometimes Mama put plants in it and then put them outdoors for a while. Probably will be that. A bath they always give me in the kitchen. I hate that because Mama always tries to drown me. She keeps pouring water from a bucket over my head till I can’t breath any more. I always try to escape, so most of the time the kitchen is flooded when she thinks it’s enough and I finally get a towel. It’s a relief when she scours me dry with the rough thing.

Grandma asks with her sweetest voice if I can come to her. I hesitate, why should I have to come? I can’t help with the plants. After Grandma has asked for a second time and I’m still thinking, a hand comes in my hiding place and I’m being pulled out. The women smile very sweetly. They expertly undress me and while I silently sob they put me in the tub. They talk soothingly that I’m such a good boy and I let them rub my body with soap on a face cloth.

I look outside and try to forget the trouble I’m in. I can see 4 children with their nose against the glass. More are coming over to the window. I see Big Sister at the porch. Children give her candy and she admits them to the garden and to the window of the living room. So there they are, all these horrible creatures that hit me when they have the opportunity and Big Sister is with them! This is one big conspiracy!

I panic when I see Mama coming in with a bucket and a saucepan. But Grandma is not letting me go. I’m not even able to scream, the tone is locked somewhere in my throat. They pour shampoo on my head and rub it in my hair. And then the bucket is placed on the table next to the tub! They will do it again! I slide with my soapy body out of the hands of Grandma and jump from the table. The bucket has fallen from Mama’s hands when she tried to grab me. The children outside are cheering and I run around the table, trying to get out of the reach of the women. When I run to the door they get me again. The door is locked and they drag me back in the tub. They rinse the shampoo from my head with the water from the tub. It’s hurting my eyes and now I do have to cry.

“Now it’s enough”, Grandma says. The women take me out of the bathtub and together they dry me.
“That wasn’t so bad”, Mama tells me. I’m wrapped in the big towel and Grandma holds me while I’m crying. I hear Mama emptying the tub with the bucket, getting the tub out of the living room and mopping the floor.

When my sobbing stops, the women dress me again. I can see that the children have all disappeared from the window.

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