Why do I still dream of her, and during these dreams sometimes totally forget that she has passed away? Sometimes in these dreams I rationalise the years that she's been gone - in one dream she had to "disappear" (like in those movies where people go into protective custody) for several years, in another she lost her memory, and in the others she was just there. No real explanation. I had my mother - the one who died when I was 15 - and we did the normal mother and daughter stuff.
Is it me? Is it a subconscious calling out into the darkness of the mind for my mother?
My daylight soul would dismiss this in the first instant. I'm a grown adult. I don't need my mother. I barely knew her, and when she was around, I only knew her as a mom who worked odd hours for the Malaysian News Agency (Bernama). She was a bit tough with us kids (she had a bit of a temper - probably where I got mine?) and hardly seemed to be at home. We were brought up mostly by the maids.
But I do remember once she ran over our kitten and bought us toys to soften the blow when she broke the news. And she and my dad often took us on holidays, when I suppose it would be easier to travel without kids along.
And when I went to work at Bernama, I found out more about this woman my mother. Well-liked, friendly, a good sense of humour - all the things a daughter would never really know, even if she were still alive.
Do I regret not having a mother? Maybe up to a point. In a Malay (or Asian) society, mothers are not the "best-friend" confidantes they are made out to be in Western books or movies. Do we really talk freely about our boyfriends, our periods, our expectations of the first night of marriage, for instance? Can we discuss our bodies, our confidence in our looks or talents, our dream of meeting this great good-looking guy who can make the earth move? Can we ask how Mom and Dad met, how they fell in love and how will I ever get over this jerk who dumped me?
And yet ... I find myself daydreaming of finding a man with a mother who will love me like mothers should.
Today, March 28, is my mother's birth date. Just after midnight, I was going through some of my jewellery, and picked up the jade bracelet that once belonged to her. I don't know if she ever wore it or it had been bought for investment. I've never worn it (it's too big) and it's been sitting wrapped in red paper, in a blue velvet case, for the past 18 years. It's one of several things that I have of hers, picked up after Dad remarried.
So I have my mother in snatches of memory. In items left behind. In the eyes of friends who knew her better than a daughter ever could.
But really, I don't have a mother at all.