Leave. It has been the most heart-breaking thing she has done to me since I was a little baby. I call her Mama.
I was eight when my parents broke the bonds of our home, turning it into a pathetic, low-spirited, plain house. She escaped the chains of a violent and patriarchal marriage, leaving me in the arms of my father.
There were also days when she had to leave for work as early as four in the morning. I remember waking up to the sound of a van’s horn picking her up, and chasing it until I lose sight of it, crying.
She works in a government office and that means leaving me at home on weekdays, too. When I was younger, I used to cry at our door, calling out for her to come back, to stay.
Now, I’m older and I realized that every time she left me in tears for work, she came back to me with a kiss and a hug; that on the day she left our home, she made sure that she was strong enough to get me. She came back for me and saved me even if it meant going through a series of traumatic hearings again and again. She had to leave me several times, but she never really left.
Bearing me inside her tummy was torture for her. She did not take much vitamins nor milk for us to grow together; she bathed me with coffee, instead. Perhaps, I was unexpected. Perhaps, I was not wanted, yet. She was 22 and I was already her second child. She could have been too young at that time, but I would not blame her for what she did. She experienced pain not from being pregnant, but from being a wife to an ironclad-fisted man who battered her since day one.
The memories I have now seem to be just blurred visions of the past, but it remains clear to me how my mother has become a victim with the shackles of a batterer. As a child, I wonder how I felt after seeing her fall on the floor, breaking an arm, after being pushed away, literally, by my father; how terrified I got with my eyes half-closed, pretending I’m asleep, after seeing her being showered with water whilst in her sleep; how I was silenced in fear while she, shaking, grabbed me and my brother close to her when my father raised an ax in front of her, attempting to hit her.
No one ever wants to see their mother cry, but at a young age, I had no choice. I saw how her tears screamed for help, but I never heard a sound- no one ever did! Looking back to the horrors of our family, I could not imagine her being torn between saving the family for her children and saving herself, but she chose the latter. It was the night when she escaped and left with no money or even packed clothes. She had nothing but herself.
She left us; she left me. My father had the tables turned saying my mother left because she didn’t love me. Discreetly, she came back to get me, but I rejected her leaving her in tears. I was eight years old, I have been brain-washed, and I understood nothing. But she did not get her hopes up, even if it meant dealing with legal processes just for us to be together again. A series of court orders brought me back to my mother’s embrace.
She has a work at that time, but only received a salary of roughly Php2000 a month. Even if it was hard to raise two kids alone, I have seen how important for a mother is to have her children in her arms and see them grow. We went hungry for days to a point when my brother hid under his bed, crying and asking “Kay ano naghuhungry na kita?” (Why are we going hungry already?) As a kid, I did not care how we were, but I wonder how my mother felt. I know there were nights she cried alone, and I wish I had seen her pain and hugged her close.
She is my mother, and I’m her daughter, but she was left alone in that battle. She used to leave, but she never ceased to love. She is a mother, a sister, a friend, and a warrior. Even if I have already outgrown her, she will always be my heroine, and I, her baby girl. Always.
If my father did not give her forever, I will.