One of the very first things I can remember is the first house we stayed in, and the sheet of asbestos that guarded the terrace, where a whole flock of pigeons stayed, whose voices we could hear each day, and whose fluttering of wings against their body was a perpetual sound if you could get close enough.
I remember a blue action figure with a cape. Not much to look at. He could only move his arms, and was made of plastic, and was the same shade of blue throughout; that of the sea at the horizon when the sun is high in the sky.
But it was the cape that held my wonder. A cape that would flutter in the wind and glide as I ran around the house, the terrace, and the road with the toy in my hand. And even though I made the toy do it, I was the one who would fly.
I remember forgetting it in my room as we closed the door of that house near the pigeons for the last time.
Coming back from school I would unbutton my shirt completely with only a vest underneath, and climb up to the highest spot I could find around the house. Sometimes it was the top of the sofa in our living room and sometimes it was from the foot of the big wooden bed that my parents slept in. And in those split seconds after I jumped and before I hit the ground, I would feel that sensation again. Soaring. Flying. The unbuttoned shirt flying behind me like a cape in the wind. And rolling onward once I hit the ground.
The cycle kept repeating until my mother changed me out of my clothes, and would start again the next day when I returned home.
Now, I am twice as tall as the once gigantic bed and I can’t lie on the sofa with my feet outstretched as I would on movie nights all those years ago.
My mother’s voice is one thing that hasn’t changed over the years. Sweet as honey and more comforting than a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night. It was the voice of my lullabies, the one that calmed my fears, the sweet distraction before a tablespoon of cough syrup would assault my mouth.
One night we were on the ground, my mother on the rug after her completed prayers, and I, curled up in her lap with my eyes closed because of a noise that rose and fell in volume, constantly thrumming, with a speed much slower than the beats of my heart.
And my mother’s subtle rocking back and forth, and the comforting voice, lulled me back to sleep even then. As I woke up I found out that the voice belonged to my father snoring on the bed above.
And now, I am taller and heavier than my mother is, and it has been ages since I put my head in her lap.