“Aww she looks so beautiful” she says, the stench of coffee and cigarettes escaping her breath clutters my nostrils.
The other lady, less than a couple feet off , is holding on to a packet of Young’s fish fingers on isle ten. She stares intermittently then makes funny faces. As we push away, she raises her hand, flapping her fingers to say goodbye. I lift one side of my lips with my teeth clenched revealing a half smile as a sign of acknowledgment. My eyes are dead not just because I’m tired but because they feel nothing.
“Such lovely hair she’s got, what’s her name” the cashier asks as she places a finger on her tongue, then fiddles with the branded plastic bags.
“Moby” I say. “That’s a bit unusual for a girl” she says in a thick cockney accent. “Her full name is Mobolaji, it’s a Nigerian name but we call her Moby for short”. Not like it was any of her business but like everything else, I think, I am obliged to respond.
Tom’s mother purses her lips out at her, and then makes them vibrate making an irritating sound. Brrrrrr brrrrr. Nana Sophie calls it blowing raspberries. She does it, over and over and on and on. It makes my head hurt but Moby loves it. She chuckles as she tries to place her little fingers in Nana Sophie’s mouth. Everyone finds her adorable. They want to know if she is easy or temperamental. Clingy or independent. A fussy eater or a good eater. Hyperactive or lazy. I wonder what they mean and if it matters.
“She really looks like you they say”. But I think she has Tom’s eyes.
“Quite strong for her age she is, I can tell we’ve got a sportswoman on our hands here” says Tom’s Dad.
Six months she is now, yet I draw blank when I try to think of what I feel. Tom doesn’t think I’m copping well, because once last week, I left the porridge on the stove and nipped out to buy some milk at the Corner shop while Moby was fast asleep. The fire alarm went off but I got back just in the nick of time. He gets upset when I feed her because he can’t understand why I refuse to breast feed unlike other mothers. I don’t know how to tell him but I can’t seem to separate the thought of him on my breast and breast feeding our child. It makes me uncomfortable. The thought seems absurd. Being titillated by your own child. I’m sure Tom thinks I am rubbish as a mother but is to kind to say it.
It’s like they all think motherhood is this spirit that possesses you, or a thing that you become. At times I wonder if there is a manual for this thing I have become. I heard it was supposed to change me. I was to be overwhelmed with this meaningless need to nurture, to love her, to want to protect her, to relish in her first smile, or giggle and hiccup. I never let Tom see me cry but sometimes I hate myself because I can’t make myself feel the way I am supposed to and other times I think Moby should have belonged to somebody else. A better human being than I. One who loves her and one she excites. One who can be a mother or wants to be called mummy.
Tom wants me to see the doctor. “I reckon you’ve got something” he says
Just the same way a few of my braids fell off and he believed it was early signs of traction alopecia. There seems to be a name for everything here.
He doesn’t know I have been already, Dr Shah said the feeling wasn’t so peculiar. “It happens to a lot of new mothers” she says. She gave me some pills and I have been taking them but Tom doesn’t know about that either. It makes me tired and my head is foggy. I still feel a bit distant from Moby. I doubt if it works. He thinks it’s because she has Colic and has been keeping me up all night. She squinted and giggled at me this morning. She kept trying to grab my finger then placed it in her mouth. Then she suckled on it. Every time I smiled, she giggled more, it made me feel warm. I think I want to hold her a little bit more.