It is every mother’s duty to tell her daughter that she is beautiful,
and if this is impossible, she has to make her daughter beautiful
because mothers shouldn’t lie, and so my mother would
scrub my high-noon-sun-kissed skin twice a day with liquid
whitening soap she bought from an officemate who had a sister
working in some Asian country doing God-knows-what.
She would rub the rough loofah against my nape, my fragile back,
my kiddy arms and legs, paying extra attention to my frail elbows
and my strong knees the way she would polish my father’s
bowling trophies and medals with toothpaste every weekend.
And I say my knees are strong for my grandmother had a habit
of feeding me duck fetus, which my mother vehemently disagreed with
because of my asthma and too much of it gave me rashes, and how could she
rid my skin of dirt and color if she couldn’t scour me like the bottom
of a frying pan every time she would give me a bath? My grandmother
would retort by saying that it’s better to have sensitive skin than sensitive bones.
Of course, my mother would always have the last word. I was, after all, hers.
I turned out okay, I guess, the asthma and animal-abortion-induced rashes
already gone, for I can smoke more than half a pack of cigarettes a day,
eat pretty much whatever the hell I want to eat (including things
that are actually non-consumable) and not be rushed to the hospital
where my life started and is probably bound to end. For now I am as healthy
as healthy people are until their bodies betray them in other ways, like the lips
locking with the lips of someone else’s lover, like a tongue failing to tell a lie.
sarah “surot” matias recently graduated cum laude from the up college of arts and letters with a bachelor in creative writing. she is currently a freelance writer with a day job, just like how she expected her life would be until the day she hits the motherload and becomes a filthy rich writer who doesn’t need a day job.