Literary Mama is a proud member of the following organizations:
The International Mothers Network
The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
No one shows up to an Indian dinner party on time. Everyone knows to come at least two hours after the stated invitation, but her husband had gotten the odd notion that they would “come early and leave early”. As Mumtaz expected, only the arthritic mother-in-law was there to greet them at the door.
“Jamilla is still upstairs getting ready. Come talk to me, my dear.” She grabs Mumtaz’s elbow with surprising strength and directs her toward the sofas in the women’s parlor. Her husband and children disappear with the host’s teenage sons. They would probably play pool in the Siddiqis’ amply proportioned walk-out basement until the dinner call.
Mumtaz restrains herself from tracing the outline of the flowers on the patterned couch. Instead, she fingers her bead necklace. “Are you sure I can’t help in the kitchen, Aunty?”
Janine and Andre played daily teasing games about imaginary family members as Janine drove Andre home from work. Because of the age difference and Janine’s busted radio, there wasn’t much else to talk about.
“How old is he?” the woman asks coolly, nodding toward Jacob. She has oversized sunglasses and a sharp blonde bob. Although it’s 90 degrees and humid in late morning at the park, her skin is still matte with foundation.
You look down at Jacob, his oversized head, his wide blue eyes, his wavering legs, and your back clenches. You feel your forehead sweating. You want to say, Fuck off, it’s none of your business how old he is. The woman’s daughter has already clambered up the ladder (“Look at me, Mommy! I’m climbing so high look at me!”) to the tallest slide on the playground. The girl’s hair is slicked into two French braids, and she’s wearing a pink sundress with white bike shorts under it.
And you also think it could have been you, your mother. If your mother had been the type to drink and go out, instead of not drink and watch old movies with the shades drawn, her dark bedroom. It could have been you.
The first weirdness is that there is a touch screen kiosk, which really isn’t a kiosk but more like a mini ATM. Customers, like me, have to “state their business with the court” before they get a number. The options are: Tickets, Taxes, Passports, Permits—and maybe one other thing like that. It just so happens I go to the Clerk of the County Courts branch office on Valentine’s Day—a weird day for civic business but I need to pay our house taxes before the late penalty charge, which would be a big chunk and not something we can afford. I’m not late, though would be if I hadn’t reminded my husband Josue about it . He tends to wait until the last minute for everything and the other reason is he’s a cheap bastard and he doesn’t “want to give them even one day more with his money.”
Cath missed Annie. Of course, there were regular posts on Annie’s social media page, changes to her profile photo—most recently, in March, her newly pregnant abdomen, dramatically draped in stripes—but Cath wanted more from her sister than comments like “Really really tired tonight” or “Started jogging again!” Now that they were both living in small towns—Cath in the Tri-Towns as she still called them, Annie in Cobourg—she felt like they were travelling back in time together. A former history major, Cath had just finished a biography of the Strickland sisters, Catherine Parr Traill and Susanna Moodie, dragged out to “the Aweful Wilderness” of Upper Canada by their unfortunate men, there to suffer pangs of British homesickness while raising broods of children. But still finding time to write letters. Cath had just processed a new volume of CPT’s letters for her college library, taken it home. While she stirred the stew she was warming up for supper, she flipped the book open.