TALES OF AN ORANGEPEELER
an archive of pleasures, wounds, sublimations
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When I returned from college the first winter, Mummy had already been replaced by a strange old woman who had crept into the house when no one was looking. The old woman had skin like wrinkled paper, shuttered eyes above pale cheeks, her brittle-bone wrists crumbling in my grasp.
This old woman reminded me of others¡ªthe crowds of resigned senior citizens at the Vietnamese grocery; a hunchbacked crone squatting stoic at the entrance, scraping her bowl clean of rice porridge; a cousin¡¯s grandmother encountered in a dimly-lit hallway, I gasping at the sight of her naked torso, the dugs that hung loose, long dragged down by gravity.
And each time I returned from college, I found that Mummy had retreated further and further into herself. She spoke less and lesser until she seemed almost monolithic, hewn from prehistoric stone. All the wet soft spongy parts of her had shriveled, smaller and smaller, the sorrow-swollen parts of her drying out until she was a husk of her former self.