Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mothers of Marrickville

On Friday as I was walking to the bus stop, up along Illawarra Rd, I passed my neighbour's mother. This neighbour and her husband are from Turkey and they brought her aged mother out to live with them and their three kids (in a three bedroom house) a few years ago. I've never really spoken to the grandmother properly as she has very sparse English. We pass on the street and smile and say hello. Sometimes she says "hot!" or "nice day!" and I agree with her. Once I had a garage sale and she shuffled into the front yard with a couple of her grandkids. They were interested in the box of pre-loved stuffed toys. "Eh, eh?" she said to me, holding up a raggedy elephant and a pink unicorn. "Fifty cents each" I said. "Dollar?" she replied, and I said "yes". "Dollar the lot?" she said, "yes" I said. Then her and the kids gathered up all of the toys. There must have been thirty of them. And it turned out she only had eighty-five cents.

Anyway, as I was saying, I passed her on Friday. It was raining a little and she was muttering to herself under her umbrella. I said a quick hello and continued up the hill then heard "me mama, me mama." I thought she was introducing herself. Goodness. I doubled back, smiling. "Me mama dead, me mama dead" she told me, softly pounding her fist on her black-clad chest. "I'm so sorry" I said, thinking that her mother must have been dead for decades. She nodded and stopped walking. "Sorrow," she said, "sorrow". And I suddenly felt the weight and force of her grief. We were silent for a while, standing under her umbrella. Eventually I just said "It's very sad."


Ampersand Duck said...

That's a lovely, poignant story to read around Mother's Day.

Sonja said...

Hi Meredith,
Just having a break from work and thought I'd have a wander around your lovely blog.
Next time you see her, say 'merhaba' (vowels similar to French), meaning 'hello'. She'll like that.

Ms Baroque said...

Aw, come on.

Many's the time I've been behind a jumble stall at the local school fair and met these women (see - 'these women'), and it's easy to get really annoyed. (Well - it's easy for me I guess, when I'm trying to run a jumble stall!) You've just shown how wonderful it is to step out of your day a little and open up to people instead.

Tell you what, I was thinking at the beginning of this post how hard it would be to be an older women and leave your country so far behind that you're thinking you'll never see it again. Unthinkable, really. Like leaving the whole world.