“To see human beings in agony, to see them covered in blood and to hear their death groans, makes people humble. It makes their spirits delicate, bright, peaceful. It’s never at such times that we become cruel or bloodthirsty. No, it’s on a beautiful spring afternoon like this that people suddenly become cruel. It’s at a moment like this, don’t you think, while one’s vaguely watching the sun as it peeps through the leaves of the trees above a well-mown lawn? Every possible nightmare in the world, every possible nightmare in history, has come into being like this.”
Yukio Mishima, “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion”
There are only remnants of atrocities. The human race is one of suffering; We suffer but we also inflict suffering. Today begins tomorrow. My eyes refuse to close, my heart won’t stop accelerating, and the images won’t stop replaying. What if we had stayed home?
“Jim let’s go!” I looked up from my bed to the small woman shouting my name. It was time to once again go to the market. How I hated going to the market. I got up and ripped open the closet door, found a t-shirt and a pair of patched up jeans and threw them on. Mom gave me the usual bags of merchandise to carry. As I walk out of the front door, one of my classmates walks by the house. I keep my head down hoping that he won’t mention that he saw me to my other classmates. I hear my name but pretend to be too occupied with the floor to answer.
We walk several miles, the bags begin to feel like 100 pounds but I cannot complain; mother is carrying the equivalent. We wait in silence. There are some boys I know playing soccer. My feet ache to pass the ball from one foot to the next. Instead I grab the bags as the bus pulls up. I fling myself forward and find a seat, lean my head on the window, and clench as mother finds herself next to me. Why do I have to be stuck here? Why is life so terrible that I have to give up my Saturday to help mother sell clothing? Questions won’t stop forming in my head. I decide to close my eyes.
I awake to a heavy blow to my head. I look around and see mother laying on the floor. The bus has somehow flipped several times. “Help me!” “My leg” There are screams everywhere. My head throbs but I jump to mother’s side. She is awake but she is bleeding. She has hurt the side of her stomach. ” Get me out.” I put my arm around her frame which is now humped over and walk out of the bus. The sun shines outside; it shines on the bus which seems to become smaller as people continue screaming. Mother sits outside the bus, her face seems far away, but her eyes speak of pain.
I hold her and walk up the hill that the bus had flipped on. We stand in silence.
Six months Later
We stand in silence as the doctor tells mother that she has a cancerous tumor in her stomach. I clench my fists recognizing that I had once hated the small amount of time that I spent with mother. Suddenly Saturdays didn’t feel like wasted opportunities but memories of someone whose soul was being taken away from earthly life.
Mother stands in her youth among twelve children.
She sits by a sewing machine day and night.
We eat cheap things.
Mother takes me with her to the market.
” I am hungry mother.”
“Wait son there is not enough money for breakfast yet.”
The boys outside play with the cars that they had gotten on Christmas.
I am making the courses; I have no toy car.
Mother returns and brings me one.
Mother is hurt.
Mother is dying and I have no one left.
I take mother to visit after visit.
She cannot afford expensive treatments.
Mother is dying and all that I can do is watch.
The cancer is a vine and it is overtaking the only person who loves me.
She has died.
But with her death dies her pain. With her pain she has moved away from her burdens. She is still among us but she does not have to wait to provide. Mother in her beautiful struggle. She fought until the end.