Mother – indifference
Recently I asked my mother if she had known I had an eating disorder as a child. I told her that she might have thought I was faking, but I was often quite ill. My mother said she didn’t know and apologized that she hadn’t paid enough attention to me.
When I was about nine years old, I woke up with acute stomach pain in one morning. I went down to the living room and laid down on the tatami mat and waited for my mother to get up. She came in and found me groaning with pain. She passed through me and entered the kitchen. My grandfather and father came in and went into the dining room to have breakfast, and so did my sister. My mother cooked, packed bento, got ready for work while I writhed with my hands on my stomach. Before she left home, she made a call to my school. I do not recall if she even looked at me once that morning. After everyone left, my grandmother gave me soft rice and herbal tea, and the pain subsided.
There was also a time my gum was inflamed and was throbbing. I couldn’t eat or sleep for two days. I cried with a swollen cheek, but my mother remained indifferent and kept on with her chores. It didn’t occur to a nine-year-old that I could see the dentist because it should’ve been the caregiver’s job to suggest that and arrange the appointment. By the third day, I was losing my marbles. In delirium, I pushed the bulge hard with my index finger, and white-yellow pus erupted from the torn gum. While shocked by the consequence, I could only do one thing. I squeezed the gum until there was no discharge, and the pain went away with it.