I have been forced to listen to my mother talking at me for some time. Her voice is really starting to reverberate (painfully) inside my head. I tune out for a while. And go to my ‘happy place’. I stay there until I feel calm enough to come back.
Unfortunately, I tune back in just as she is explaining that I have depreciated greatly in value “We can’t be too choosy. You are divorced. You have a child. And you are in your thirties. But you are educated and you have nice breasts; so I’m sure we’ll be able to find someone who would be willing to take you on”. She squeezes my (clenched) hand reassuringly.
I tell her (again) that I do not want them to find me a husband. She responds with “You think we should trust you to find your own? And let you shame us with a Greek? Whatever next? A black man?” I remind her that her best friend is black. But apparently she is “Turkish first. Black second.”
Then she infuriates me further by declaring that they are going to find me a husband whether I like it or not.
I take a deep breath and count to ten. There is only so much self control I can exercise. I firmly repeat that I will not be getting married, petulantly adding “And you can’t make me.”
I can feel myself regressing. My mother has that effect on me. It is all I can do not to stamp my feet.
My father makes an (unsuccessful) attempt to diffuse the situation “We can’t force you to do to anything. All we are asking is that you allow us to introduce you to men we think are good marriage material"
I want to scream. But my voice is hoarse from trying to explain to them that I don’t actually need to have a man (Turkish or otherwise) in my life.
I should probably just save my energy. And pretend to play along. “And if I don’t like any of them? Will you give up and stop going on at me?”
My father agrees. My mother doesn’t. “You’ve always given in to her. Maybe if you had laid her across your knee once in a while, she would have more respect for us now. A man who doesn’t beat his daughter beats his own knee”.
She slams her hand down on the table dramatically. Then she turns to me “You will like one of them”
I’ve had enough. It’s time to put a stop to this. “Actually, I won’t because I have no intention of meeting any of them. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it”.
My mother is fighting a losing battle. And she knows it. The emotional blackmail will come next. I pre-empt it by saying “You look flushed. Has your blood pressure gone up? Perhaps you should go home and measure it. We wouldn’t want you having a stroke now, would we?” I have left her with nothing to say.
But I may have gone too far. She looks puce. I don’t think my mother has a 'happy place' She starts to reach down. I jump up and make a run for it. I manage to pull the door behind me just as her shoe slams into it. She may not be as fast as she used to be. But she still has a pretty good throwing arm.
I have a restless night punctuated with nightmares where I am being chased by hoards of fat, ugly, naked, sweaty, hairy Turks; with my mother running alongside them shouting “Kitty! Stop! We can’t be too choosy!”
I wake up late (and exhausted). The last two days and nights have literally knocked the stuffing out of me. We get to school just as the whistle blows.
The ‘mummy mafia’ stop talking and stare disapprovingly at me as I rush past them. I hear one of them (the ‘Godmother’) say “Why is she always late? She only has one child to get ready”.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t rise to it. I have been ignoring the bitchy looks and snide comments for months.
But then she makes the mistake of smugly adding “And it’s not like she has a husband to worry about, is it?”
I stop. And turn back. “What exactly has my timekeeping got to do with you?” I am right up in her face “Well?” She looks around at her cronies for support. But they are all looking at their feet.
She finally stammers “Nothing. It’s nothing to do with me”. I respond “Precisely. So keep this” (I prod her nose) “out of it in future”. I walk off, leaving her red faced and open mouthed.
I head straight to the gym. And pummel a punch bag until I calm down.
Then I go for a nice long swim. I notice heads turning as I climb out of the pool and walk across to the steam room. I see men (and women) nudging each other and nodding towards me. I must admit, I am in pretty good shape. My body looks toned and lithe in my black bikini.
I come out of the steam room and take another dip in the pool so I can milk it. My battered ego needs feeding. I climb slowly out of the pool (I imagine I am Ursula Andress in that iconic ‘rising out of the sea’ scene).
I modestly pretend not to notice the attention I am attracting.
I feel revitalised. Maria is welcome to Anthony; I haven’t depreciated in value at all; and I can compete with a pre-pubescent blonde button nosed model without getting a facelift.
I walk into the changing room; straight towards the full length mirror. And that’s when I see it. My tampon string swinging between my legs; a long white cotton reminder that pride (almost) always comes before a fall.
I get home to find a strange little man waiting on the doorstep. He looks Turkish. Apparently he is here to carry out a valuation of the house. I have to hand it to her, she is being very imaginative. But I am not a total idiot. I tell him I know that my mother sent him. And that I am sure he is a nice man. But I am simply not interested in a relationship with anyone right now.
He seems genuinely confused. And on closer inspection, he looks more Indian than Turkish (I think it was the moustache that threw me).
He wasn’t sent by my mother. He was sent by the bank. The mortgage is in arrears. I insist it isn’t. Then I call Mark. It is. It would appear that he has neglected to tell me that his company is in trouble. And that he has defaulted on the mortgage.
There can only be one (il)logical explanation for the events of the past 48 hours; someone has put the evil eye on me.
I go inside and light up the remainder of the olive leaves and circle my head with them “your eyes to your arses, your eyes to your arses”