“Whatever happens, always tell the truth.” The girls didn’t know when was the first time they heard the mother say this. The earliest they recalled was when they were three and six. However, growing up hearing this, they never told a lie, especially to her because she wasn’t just teaching, she was a good role model. She wasn’t biologically a mother to the older one. She was a close family friend, but the kid’s heart saw her as a mother because she never treated her any differently than her own daughter. She taught her what’s in your heart is more important than what’s in your blood, so she was always the mother in her childhood memories. And the kid always saw herself being a daughter in the mother’s heart. Because she said so. And she wouldn’t say it if she didn’t mean it, right? The mother lived opposite from the girl’s house. She would often run across still wearing her pink barbie slippers and stay there. It was one of those nights, the mother came home later than the two little girls expected. The younger one who couldn’t sleep without her mother’s goodnight kiss was like a miniature interrogator, “Where were you?” she asked. The sternness in her voice would both scare you and make you laugh simultaneously. The mother would turn into a naughty little boy. She liked to act like that. Or was it the kids that liked seeing that face of hers? In a childish voice, she would say, “I have a confession to make”. You wouldn’t be able to make out which one was the mother and which one was the daughter if the little girl wasn’t wearing a diaper. “I went shopping without you”. Reproachful screams rose from the apartment. They weren’t old enough to appreciate her honesty. Or was it because they considered it normal? When the kids grew up to be seven and ten, she was teaching them how to play ‘Truth or Dare’. The elder one heard the kids at school playing it but didn’t know what to do with it. Every question was just boring. “Mum, what would you not dare to do?” the little one asked her mother, as the greatest and most reliable source. “The most naked we are is when we are doing the things we do alone, and that is when we are the most vulnerable.” She read a lot of books. She was full of wisdom and stories, and she knew which words to use for the kids. These words were as if she was speaking to herself, or maybe it was for the kids to question when they grow up. Perhaps she knew they would remember her every word growing up because her words were words to their hearts. She took the girls to her bedroom, revealed brushes, lipsticks, mascaras and all the other stuff the kids couldn’t name individually but called ‘make-up stuff’ from the top drawer of her vanity table. She applied them all to her face one by one, didn’t even look at their direction the whole time, didn’t speak a word until she was done. That was the day the kids learned she would always abstain from putting on her make-up in front of others. Was she afraid of people catching a glimpse of her real self as she painted a new self? Or was it just a distraction from what really terrified her? When the kids were ten and thirteen, the mother took the older one shopping. They bought her first heels. They weren’t expensive, but they looked fancy, they were lamé and were sparkly. She felt like a princess. But that was the mother’s speciality, she made her feel like the most precious person in the whole wide world. She and her sister, they were born into this world to make a change. But why weren’t they buying her younger sister heels? She didn’t even like heels as much as her sister did. “Because she is crazy about them and she has more than a 10-year-old should have.” That was comically true. But why wasn’t she with them? “Because no one is able to stop her from buying stuff.” That was also true, the girl thought.
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