You can never be too short.
My mother probably knew what this meant. She’s the one who used to say it.
Every day till she died.
She’d lick her thumb and smoothen my unruly eyebrows. Two swift strokes, one left, one right. And then she’d cup my cheeks in her hardened palms and stare intently into my eyes.
Her head dipping down at a forty-five degrees angle.
No, I’m not a child. I’m a twenty-three-year-old man who never grew beyond four-feet-ten.
I’d say that’s short. But my mother had her own thinking.
You can never be too short – her words of comfort. More clueless than mysterious.
And I survived on her strange words and sought refuge in her tall frame. I never walked beside her, but always behind her. It sheltered me from the awkward glances.
The whispers and the chuckles and the remarks that were not needed.
It’s a dwarf.
A clown or a midget?
Mother pretended she was deaf. I told myself I cared less. But the tall shadows on the wall mocked me, exaggerating how I could’ve been. And I wept and wept and wept.
It’s been three weeks since mother was laid to rest. I visit her grave in an oversized raincoat and six-inch heels. The new elevation makes me see the world from a decent height.
Yes, I really like it.
There’s a new bakery on the corner of Burby Street. I stop for pie and coffee. Children eat at half price. I’ll have to do away with this scraggly beard and the gigantic heels. It’ll take ten years off me. Mother would’ve said that this is cheating.
Did she consider that God cheated me? So why should I even bother.
Today’s August 26th. It’s my birthday. I carry mother in my pocket. A picture from her younger days. She was such a beauty. The bakery has a small line outside. I wonder what’s the matter.
I join at the end. A tall man turns to greet me. He says the bakery is running a father and son special. Two eat at the price of one.
I smile at a wicked thought and extend my hand towards him. He nods with a knowing look, and we shake like we mean it.
The girl at the counter looks us over. She blurts out her apprehension.
‘You don’t look like father and son.’
I whip out the picture from my pocket and explain in the shrillest voice.
‘That’s because I look like my mother.’
I now chew upon the woman’s wisdom.
Oooooh writer, you think you’re so cool. Is that what your readers think too? I doubt it!