Mother was here.

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I slipped into my bed three hours ago; Sleep is a struggle for some; Insomnia is real.

After an hour of receiving instant gratification from the smartphone, my body began to slowly melt into the mattress beneath it. You’d consider yourself lucky on the days when this happens a little early. REM phase kicked in quickly and I forgot to turn off the room heater. I never do that. But that’s not the important thing. What’s important is that I didn’t realize it when my phone slipped out of my hand. Fortunately, its fall was cushioned by the carpet. My deep slumber wasn’t interuppted. A room is considered to be warm when your nose isn’t cold. I was having my best sleep of December.

“Ves, wake up!” A familiar voice whispered into my ears. My feet were toasty by that time. I opened my eyes; my view was of a light-aircraft pilot who’d passed out mid-flight, only to wake up and realize that he is headed towards an erupting volcano. The heat hit my face without mercy. Smoke cleared, and I saw the heater, and then my mother. “Ves, you slept without turning off the heater. You’re too exhausted, are you?”

“ are you maa..”

She didn’t respond. She was sitting on the other end of the bed near my feet. I hadn’t seen her so calm in many years. They say that who you are from the inside reflects on the outside. It seems true because whenever I’d do something that was cathartic and soul-satisfying, people would tell me that I look happy. Maybe my mother did something on that day that relieved her off all her worries. I helped myself up and lolled against the hard headboard; the pillow had fallen. A shot of pain went through my left flank.

“ are you?”

She smiled and asked me, “Did you eat the custard I made for you Ves?”

My eyes were still trying to discern this fresh-looking human outline in front of me. This face had the least lines, but the voice seemed troubled. It seemed that she’d just made her hair; light bounced off her head like it was the source itself. I thought of the sunrise in Mt. Fuji.

“Your room’s door was open as well, Ves. You should always close the doors and the windows when the heater is on to trap the heat inside. And you can’t leave the heater on for the whole night. Your electricity meter will run amok, or worse, you’ll burn down the house.”

“Yes maa..” She made sense, but nothing else did. Why was she lecturing me about the electricity bill in the middle of the night? I’m old enough to know all this, I guess so. She continued. “Similarly, you can’t put your guard up with idiots all the time; you’ll run out of grace and patience. You need to cut contact with them, or else they’ll keep breaking in and you’ll lose the warmth inside you.”

She made sense, but nothing else did. How did she know that I’ve been thinking about my behavioral patterns and my frequent disappointments with people? I guess, mothers know everything. I’m an extension of her, cell–to–cell, except for my life experiences of thirty-three years. We’re similar in many ways—we both dislike people who are always happy. And, bread. (also, my Aunt Emma)

I wanted to ask her how she’d known what was bothering me but she stood up, and walked out of the room. I thought she’s gone to get the custard. The door was open and the room got cold. She was right about closing the doors and windows. When she didn’t return, I got out of the bed and walked towards the kitchen. She was there stooping in front of the refrigerator. I smiled; my heart filled with colorful balloons at the sight of her. The chill from the refrigerator hit my face with mercy. “You’re so cold inside, Ves” — I’ve heard it all my life.

“Hey maa…” She didn’t turn around. Suddenly she straightened up and banged close the door of the fridge. The loud bang startled me and my eyes opened up. My phone had slipped out of my hand and fallen onto the floor. Its fall wasn’t cushioned by a carpet. There was no carpet. There was no mother.

But mother was here, seven years after she’d died. The heater was still on; the door was open. I got up and closed it.

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