I’ve become a different person since I saw my mother beat up another woman. In my hometown, life was tough. I was too young to remember where my father was, or maybe I didn’t really know. In fact I was too young for anything, and this is probably my oldest memory – I’m not sure if it’s this one or the sunny day I played in the backyard, running in circles around small, especially green bushes; sunny days were such rare things back at home. The day I saw my mother beating up that woman was not a sunny one. I’ve become a different person, but the days… It was a day just like this, of surprisingly (even for us, cold creatures of the north) cold weather, with the trees frozen to the last branch and leaf. As a kid, I was afraid that even the sea would freeze over and turn into one great, static piece of dark-blue rock, and that the menacing waves would become gigantic, towering sharp edges of an evil continental-sized crystal. It was little after twilight. Walking outside, holding hands with my mother, we met the woman that my mother and grandmother, who was our neighbor, had been talking about on the morning of that same day.
I’m not exactly talkative, but back then I talked a lot. I remember, I could talk so much and so fast that probably a seller of fish in the market in town would envy my vocal skills. Today, it seems like I’ve lost my breath, and my articulation. I guess I was annoying, but mother wouldn’t mind. She wouldn’t ask me to stop. Tough as life was there and then, she would never be tough to me. That day we were walking together, holding hands, and I was into some sort of childish, rhetorical monologue. Then we stopped. Actually, mother stopped, interrupting my speech, and then I stopped. I remember looking at her and completely absorbing her bad mood, printed on her face. She looked ahead, and I looked with her to the sea beyond every detail, and then the usual fear of freezing came to me. I remember telling mother I was afraid, knowing that she was aware of my fear, many times already declared. She took a while to break her focus and look down at me, because she was looking at the woman, who was coming towards us. I remember her usual, and I reckon that it was at that moment that I absorbed her calm tone, to accompany me through the rest of my life. She said calmly: no, the sea won’t freeze over.
I’ve been a different person since the moment mother said that, let go off my hand, took a few steps ahead and punched the other woman in the face. I had never seen such violence, and as the woman fell down on the street, and mother over her, beating and beating, the dull sound of each falling arch of arm came into harmony with the growing beating of my heart, which eventually seemed about to break out from my chest. Even though mother never asked me to, I stopped talking. I watched it quietly. Now I understand, of course, but the interesting thing is how it composes a memory inside my head, never to fade. Now I know some parts of the sea do freeze over, but here, deep as it is, it can’t do so. You see, I’m not exactly communicative, but I’ve been different. I’ve already had fears, and today I live searching for them. I do not remember this, but probably that day my mother’s hands got just like mine are used to do now. I do not remember much else of her. I guess sometimes mothers can be really tough.