She was born there. It was her home, her culture, her life. She couldn’t imagine it any other way. For sixty years she had lived like that, without objecting it. It was her world, through and through. Used to her clothes, used to her daily routine, used to that subtle, hidden fear, forced into the smallest, tiniest, most unreachable corners of her soul… That’s who she was.
Drinking her black coffee, she was sitting at the small kitchen table, and new, bigger fears were taking a hold of her mind. Her hands, wrinkled like old leather, were nervously playing with the porcelain cup, weathered by time, turning it round and round. She didn’t even notice.
She covered up and prepared to leave – some shopping before dinner had to be done. After having finished the ancient ritual, she left. Her mother had done it, and her mother, and her mother… for centuries and generations uncountable. She knew it, and she understood it.
Carrying a couple of bags, she was climbing the stairs to the little apartment. Just another day, nothing different.
Of course, this place was not perfect. It wasn’t the best, it wasn’t “heaven”. It was a hard life. But it was her hard life, and she had to go through it all every day. Things could be much better, things could be really great. Like so many centuries ago, when her world was thriving with wealth and power. Maybe that day would come once again? She didn’t have to worry about that though, Now was more important. Something to have at the table tonight when the family comes home – from work, from school, from their daily business.
It was oppression. She was aware. She was also aware that the rice was about to boil over. And she knew why she was crying – onions are never easy.
She was afraid of being saved from it all. She had seen those, who had been saved, and she knew it was frightening. If change were to come, it would come from within, not from without. A caterpillar is not given wings; nobody sticks them to its body with staples. Change would come when its time came, when it all boiled over, instead of just her rice. She had seen that inside change, and it also was frightening. But it also bore the excitement of success, of taking the matters into your own hands, of cooking it all up yourself, from scratch. Not of being served pre-made food.
Ok now… onions go into that dish, the rice cools down, and the broth needs a little more salt.
Her people’s life.
That’s where her children grew up, that’s where her children’s dreams grew, that’s where her children’s dreams stood a chance. But now… now the whole place was going to change. Dreams cannot be the same, because they will have to adapt to a new world. It could be a smaller world, or even poorer. Maybe even damaged? Yes, it would be damaged, one way or another. This was like forcing nature, like forcing something to grow, when it’s not just quite ready yet. Like a balloon! If you blow it up too quickly, it explodes. She didn’t like her balloon, true, she would rather it were another colour. But she did not want to risk having it blown up, not like that.
Oh, it is almost dinner time. They will be here soon.
She set up the table, and waited for them to come home. Her family, the people she loved and felt good with. Those who asked her advice, who came to her with love problems, who sometimes pouted at her, or even yelled. A regular family. She would not want them to go away. She would want to share her balloon with them, until the end of time. Until the end of her time anyway.
Oh, here’s the key turning… Wonderful, someone’s home.