Mother – in the mirror
Often I saw her sitting in front of the dresser, smoking a cigarette. She’d be facing the mirror without looking into her reflection. She’d inhale with a small pop of her lips and slowly exhale the long trail of smoke. Even with me in the room, she was alone, her and a cigarette.
I imagined her smoking a cigarette in a small apartment in Tokyo. She’d be humming the songs she learned at the Utagoe Kissa, thinking of the school work, students’ activism on Okinawa, and the man who gave her a pearl necklace.
I’d put my arms around her neck and smell her scent, cigarette smoke mixed with Shiseido foundation. It’d dawn on me that she was not just my mother. She was an individual with the past, which was filled with anticipation, confusion, joy, and fear. She was once a girl like me. But that girl existed only in the vanity mirror while the cigarette burned. Once it is put out, she was again a mother and a daughter-in-law.