IN THE BEGINNING, my mother took the form of a book. A 220-page paperback, with a cream and orange jacket, and the imprint of a small milk-bottle-shaped bird. A Narrow Street, boasted the sans-serif title that stood in for her eyes, and at the bottom, Elliot Paul. Or was it John Steinbeck and Cannery Row? I’m not sure. Mother came in many guises in those first weeks. And though the peculiarly shaped bird may just have been a black smudge against a less-black background (I had no depth of vision), I’m sure about the colour scheme itself; it did not change.
For some time I believed, as I gazed upwards chortling milk, that the book that was my mother radiated a mass of golden wavy hair. That it ate packets and packets of a certain digestive biscuit covered in chocolate. That it heaved and shifted and made low rumbling sounds, and sometimes sharp high barks. I was not unhappy: a steady stream of milk was being delivered. I was not cold; I was not hungry. I could rely on my mother to be constant in shape and unchanging in complexion. And then one day, she yawned and the book dropped from her face and everything changed.
Already a subscriber? Sign in here
If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at email@example.com