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  • Isabella Naiduki

I Heard A List Sing My Name

I look down at my list and check the last item off. I felt judged by it because of how long it had taken me to complete that one simple task. I quickly zipped the suitcase shut. There, done. Each month we went about this chore, mechanical almost because I wanted us to be ready when it was time to leave. They hate me for it but won’t tell me. I feel it when our eyes meet in the rear-view mirror as I back the car out of the driveway.

There’s a saying when they leave the nest, you realise that you’ve spent an entire lifetime wearing a cloak that motherhood forces on you. Actually, I lied, I made that up, there is no phrase. One of us will leave soon though, for the journey I’ve been preparing them for. We'll all stand there like mutes and wave at her. She will probably feel some sort of relief for being the first to leave the nest if I’m being honest, more honest than I’ve been to her in her entire life.

Today we went to the dentists. An easy enough task during normal times. But what is normal times anymore? I'm the helicopter mom who hovers about all three of my children, then I hover even more around father of said children. That was me all morning, hovering and hollering. We had to leave at exactly 11:12am I told them. Because then it gave us enough time to drive to the dental surgery, park and walk to the back entrance so that we wouldn't have to hang around outside waiting for them to let us in. You could only enter the premises 5 minutes before your scheduled appointment, not a second earlier. The receptionist had told me that quite sternly over the phone. "But I have a 4 year old," I had meekly responded with, as if that was meant to impact their operational practise... or whatever it is that allows them to impose such draconian rules. Actually its the C word that's forced their hand. No, not (whispering) cunt, Covid.

I had been to the dentist the week before, for my check up. The usual screening questions was asked and answered then. I hadn't had a dental check up for a couple of years so I had already self-diagnosed myself before I even arrived. Let's just say, Dr Google told me that I was going to lose all my teeth in the next 3 years. The dentist did not seem too impressed when I rattled off what I thought might be the problem. So he said, "let's have a look then Mrs Robinson." Over a decade and a bit with Mr Robinson and I still haven't gotten used to being called Mrs Robinson. I started to hum the song in my head, you know the one where they tell you that Jesus loves you more than they do? The nice dentist is speaking to me, it's kind of hard to respond because my mouth is wide open at this point so he moves back a little and allows me to respond to his question. I ask him to repeat the question, like a beauty pageant contestant who needs more time to articulate how they can phrase, "and world peace" differently but still with a smile. He's asking me about my jaw, I can’t really hear him because the earworm is screaming, "Oh won't you please Mrs Robinson!!" So I blurt out, oh yeah I had my jaw wired back in 2006, good times. This guy, not Mr Robinson obviously, but a guy who shall not be named practised his judo skills on my face." I don't think the nice dentist man appreciated me making light of the violence I had survived in a previous life. But how else can survivors... survive, if they can't at least be in a place where they can tell you their truth without having a complete breakdown? We move on with the check up and it ends soon after. He takes off his blue gloves, I notice he has very slender fingers, like a piano player. "I love the piano," I tell my earworm. She's changed her song and is now humming a Goldfrapp song. It's soothing my anxiety ridden brain. I need it. The kind dentist is telling me that I will not lose my teeth after all. That I, in fact have done a great job looking after my teeth and need to stop reading dental advice off google. I smile at him and have the sudden urge to hug him but I stop because the C word might throw me in jail for that.

It's raining now. We arrived at exactly 11:25am. I ring the buzzer and tell them the Robinson's are here. A white lady lets us in. She smiles at me. I wonder if she knows about my wired jaw? I wonder if they all know? I sit down at one of the chairs. We take up all the available chairs. I'm glad I have brought a book with me. We are going to be here for a while apparently. The father of my children and his children are chatting. I don't feel left out. They have a language of their own. I open my book and turn to Chapter 2, it reads, Imperialism and Me. How apt.


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