Wednesday 27 March 2024

Shelved, Farriz Mashudi, Mad Hatter’s tea

 IKEA Billy—open, without doors, where on the top shelf your mother might stack childhood favourites: hers as well as yours, where one day you, too, may return (the chances being high, given all they now know, the health-worker says, but that’s best not dwelled upon which your mother would never have wanted, she adds), where the Magic Faraway Tree, the web of Charlotte and Wilbur, and Nancy, not just any Nancy, but Nancy Drew that she’d bought for you when you used to read the Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators, that Jupiter Jones, who was your favourite, who was too clever, too bright, the kind of genius she would have loved to meet and who it’s you who eventually does in the form of the young man her granddaughter brings home only it’s too late for him to meet the bright spark your mother is both present and not.


Dark mahogany, 16th Century—in a university library with 24-hour ingress, its ‘always open’ condition the reasoning your daughter applies for gravitating, too, to where Alice’s white rabbit once led her down that rabbit hole, where the rows of tomes displayed don’t even begin to reveal context nor the miles more stacked underfoot for retrieval, pouring over, for discovering, your own ‘when the penny dropped’ moment when you started to appreciate the value of primary texts (not sources abridged, filtered, nuanced) and to ponder the ramblings and notions lucid and less so of thinkers and Sufis from Aristotle to Rumi; to seek out translations to better comprehend the raft of meaning (heavy, fragile, floatingly illusory, to the certifiably nuts, the incomprehensible); to apply the mined nuggets from life (mum’s, yours, your girl’s), the toughest, if memory serves, coming from that divine school of hard knocks.


The bookcase-full of your mother’s collections—whose works she flits through as she misses whole chapters, entire folders, complete stacks in formulating her own fictions of a life told with current affairs relayed in blurry snatches, a memoir she creates that’s markedly no longer critical but appears guileless, approaches puerile in its leanings, though the selection feels intentional, her picks not exactly innocent yet remain pointed, sharply curated, as the mysteries of the workings of your mother’s mind continue to escape you as much as when you were five as they do now when all she wants to know is: Who are you?


About the author

Farriz Mashudi is a former lawyer, journalist, and blogger, turned writer of fiction and CNF. Malaysian-born, she currently divides her time between the Welsh Borders and the Middle East. 

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1 comment:

  1. Intriguing and I like the way you show the stages of life through books and the ending so true.