Burnt milk

I sense I have to first of all answer this question: why nothing? What can nothing have to do with mother and with writing? I am drinking coffee and just as I write this, I choke on a long, thick thread of filmy milk that clots from lips to cup, drops onto my chin and makes a mess everywhere. Cramé, I think, du lait cramé. Burnt milk. This is why I am here. These things burnt together inside me a long time ago.  February 14, 1961 when I was six years old and my mother disappeared.

If nothing is truly nothing, if it does not exist, there is nothing to be said about it. That is Parmenides speaking from my intro philosophy book. That could also be how family and the whole community responded to my mother’s death.

Yet, her absence was there.  Mother, the centre of my world, was now an empty spot in the middle of our family, a dark hole we learnt to avoid. She became a blur of gray, not there, but not gone. With time, I forgot even what I called her, Mom? Mummie? Mama? But the hole never went away. 

“You don’t have to make the hole deeper. Just feel the edges”

The voice of reason breaks into my writing. My Grandmother’s. In my mind’s eye, I see her sitting quietly beside me watching while I dig a hole. Already, I’ve got writing and breakfast mixed up.