In the past five years, my mother has had both knees replaced and thwarted two different cancers. When she comes to visit me, she does not get a room. She brings a sleeping bag. This is something I will always brag about.
My mother likes to take me grocery shopping. In previous visits, she has insisted on filling my cupboards. She knows the grocery store is a mile-walk away for me and insists on packing as many heavy items into her car as possible. When we get to the health food store, I start rummaging through the organic juices. I pick out pomegranate and carrot ginger. She picks out orange.
I read the ingredients on tea-tree essential oil skin therapy soap. She finds one that claims to be, “Ayurvedic Soap.” Its box is ma and pa. She opens it to smell.
“What is that?” she says.
“It must be the Mala Inchi, wild ginger.”
“No, I mean Ayurveda.”
“Traditional Indian medicine, ma.”
“Let’s get these.”
As she closes the small soapbox, she finds a thin sheet of paper. She hands it to me.
“My Sanskrit is only so-so,” I say as she turns the sheet over.
She reads the English translation, “‘Instructions for Usage: Apply the soap through out the body and the arms and the legs. When finished, wash all of it off. Try not to eat.’” She folds the sheet of paper and puts it into my breast pocket.
“You’d better hold on to the directions,” she says, “for later.”
After we park, she struggles with the hill up to my apartment. I insist on carrying the bags full of bottles. She resigns herself.
“You’re not so big, you know.” She stops to catch her breath.
“You go ahead.” “I can wait.”
“No, go ahead. I like to check out that rump of yours.”
As I walk ahead to unlock the door, I military-press the juice bottles over my head and lift them over and again to prove that, indeed, I am so big.
“You remember, boy,” she says, “you came from me.”