Tuesday, 8 May 2012


I first met her where we always meet: in the changing rooms at my gym. After berating me for dripping water on the floor, she nodded towards the shower cubicle where I'd hung up my towel and my right foot was already resting inside the door and asked, "Are you going in?"
"Yes, I'm going in."
"I want to go in."
"Yes, I always go in there."
I picked up my things and moved, perplexed by the interaction. Minutes later, I opened the glass door to persistent knocking. Naked, soap in my hair and the water running on my back, I was handed my red, rubber locker key.
"You forgot this," she laughed at me. "You should be careful."

She is often in the pool, her gristly, ancient limbs working hard to tunnel through the water. She is old, like everyone else, and her tiny arms are all muscle and bone. When she swims she veers brazenly from lane to lane. Sometimes she stands up midway through a lap to talk to a friend, seemingly unaware of the swimmers near-ploughing into her back.

She knows everybody there, and she arrives with a flourish of high-fives. Her locker is second from the left, on the top row of the back wall near the showers. Part of me wants to use it one day, but I would never dare. In between her many activities at the gym she swans around in a pink towelette dress and a Minnie Mouse head-band. Bit by bit, I think I'm falling for her.

Monday, 7 May 2012



Today I saw my mother for the first time. That’s not to say I hadn’t met her before; I grew up with her, of course. Today I was leafing through photos and I found one of the more recent ones of my mother. She is standing in our garden with my brother. She is squinting in the sun, smiling but tired, and she looks proud. For the first time I saw her as others must: all limp hair, crooked teeth and middle-age. For the first time I saw her as something less than beautiful. 

I think that until today my image of my mother was immortalised, as is the way with the dead. When I looked at her picture I could see only her gentleness, her soft skin and her bravery. I could smell her, hear her, feel her beating heart through the coarse fabric of her favourite sweater (which is now mine). Every picture was a collage of all her most admirable traits. I couldn’t see for love, and now there is only sight.