Saturday, October 22, 2011

Frankfurt, Germany

The department store is a round belly room of white tiled floors shimmering against each other. Glass counters, crisply lined with stainless steel--a dressing room in vanilla. My mother walks out in high heels, wearing a long brown mink coat, with fur around the collar and the cuffs. A belt to cinch it all in. Hands on hips, her fine black hair piled up softly on her head. She presses her lips, looks into the mirror and is multiplied three times in her loveliness. My mother is not tall, rather a small goddess in mink and fur, a face and heart like frosted ice. She is the most beautiful woman.

Her hand is delicate, thin with pink almond shaped nails. There is a ring slid on the finger. An emerald encircled by small diamonds. The woman behind the jewelry counter says this emerald is made from two separate cut stones seared together. I stand on my tiptoes and peer into it, but there is no cut to be seen. Just a bottomless, green morsel, anchored to my mother's finger by her own sheer will.

She holds her hand approvingly up to see this fact. It is the first piece of jewelry my father will buy for her. An emerald to take back with her to Kabul, for the six years of loneliness she swallowed in the damp apartment we shared, the tears wept for her parents, the home, the girl she abandoned in Kart-e-Char.

When I became a teenager, my limbs aching, I would take that ring out of the jewelry box in her bedroom, stare into it searching for the moment it began. 

That fracture set in motion that was her life and the life I inherited.