She was new. You could tell. She sat amongst the ring of women looking scared and teary-eyed. She caught a couple of women trying to catch her eye and when they saw her looking at them, they gave her a sympathetic smile. Could they hear her heart playing drum riff too? Why couldn't it calm down and stop knocking against her ribs? At this rate, a few were bound to break!
Finally, it started. A kind-looking, grandmotherly woman stood up and said, "Welcome to our September meeting. We have a new sister amonst us and let's all give her some encouragement. Stand up M4, and tell us your story."
The woman gulped a few times before finally standing up on wobbly legs. She took a deep breath. She was here, wasn't she? She had confronted her inner demons and now it was time to face her fears. She looked up. The circle of women all looked at her expectantly, kindly, non-judgementally. Most of them were either in their late-twenties or early-thirties and she recognised the similar looks of pain, etched against their mouths, the looks of guilt and remorse lined about their eyes. There were some slighly older women there, who looked more relaxed and content with themselves. Maybe they had all completed the program and had learnt to forgive themselves, but they still attended the meetings to keep their faith and cool intact while keeping the guilt at bay. Then they were at a place in their lives and minds, where she wanted to be. And she knew the first step towards that was to open up. She knew she had to get it off her chest, so she started.
" Hhh--elll-lllo", she stammered to a start. My name is Mamma Mia Me A Mamma. M4."
"Hello M4", the group welcomed her.
She took a fresh gulp of air which nearly choked her as it collided with the words that came tumbling out..."And I'm a Bad Mumma. I neglect my second son so that I can spend time with my first!" And she looked at her wacky, purplish-painted toe nails. The colour made her think of a bruised heart and two soulful eyes belonging to a curly-haired imp. The reason she was here.
She was waiting for the rotten eggs, putrid tomatoes and smelly shoes, or some boos and name-calling at least. Nothing, She looked at the gathering through lowered lashes. Everyone was nodding sympathetically, knowingly. Ok. So she could get through this after all.
" Yesterday, I decided to take my elder son out for an afternoon movie, the new one that had been released last Friday, WALL-E. I normally take him on Saturdays, but we all had plans that day, so we couldn't go then." She realised she was garbling, but she knew she had to get the words out. "Well, a friend of mine and I hadn't met in a long time and I hadn't seen her new baby in ages. In fact, I saw him once, when he had just come home from the hospital and that was over three months ago, so she invited us over for lunch, saying that it had been ages! I agreed and asked her whether she and her elder son would like to go for the movie with us after lunch. She readily agreed. I was really happy! I love going for movies, especially with friends and family and most of all with my son. Tthe happiness on his face is indescribable. The best part was, that when he left for school, I didn't tell him our plans for the day. It was all going to be a surprise. And I had this big goofy grin on my face thinking about the big goofy grin that would soon be on his face when we would pull up in front of his friend's house just a couple of hours later! Then I suddenly realised. I would be away from home from 11a.m. to 7 in the evening!! Eight hours! Away from, aawwway fffrom, frommmm..." She couldn't continue. She felt the tears start to flood her eyes and voice. She noticed some of the women had their eyes closes at memories of their own. Some were dabbing the corners of their eyes with their hankies. Some were looking fixedly at their twiddling fingers.
The kind looking woman who had asked her to share her pain, gave her some gentle encouragement. "It's ok. You can do it. You can say it. Go on now dear. We all know and understand'
"My, mmmy second-born!!", she wailed. "And he didn't even understand. My baby loves to go out! He looks forward to it the whole day! But I couldn't take him for a movie. He's not old enough yet. But still, that didn't stop his mamma from making plans that were going to keep her and his elder brother away from him for virtually the entire day. He just followed her around with his happy face all morning, dancing, being cute, repeating new words and phrases. Just being adorable and loving...the way he naturally is. When it was time for me to leave he sweetly asked me, "Mamma, dada ante jacho?", which means, 'Mamma, are going to fetch dada (back home...not said, but implied)'. I said yes, picked him up for a quick cuddle and kiss and left. His endless stream of 'Bye Mammas' followed me all the way down the lift. As the car pulled out of the garage, I looked up at the balcony and what should I see, but my little one with his face pressed against the grills and turned slightly upwards so that he could fit hit chin and nope through the gap, his little hands clutching onto a grill on either side of him. His eyes were following the precise movements of the car. I rolled down a window and started yelling my head off, 'Bye baby! My sweetheart! I love you! Byyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeee!' Nothing. No bye, no wave, no flying kiss. He just looked at me soulfully, like a monkey put in a cage at the zoo. And just as the car was about to disappear...I noticed that a little hand went up...and waved!"
And remembering the image from the day before, she started sobbing as if her heart would break!
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