My Mother's Nerves
I was sent home only for the summer, during the time that the sanatorium was being remodeled. Fall was coming, and my Grandpa, as usual, put on all of his medals and military garb to see the Chief Doctor of the sanatorium, and to find out when he could bring his Grandson back. It was essential that I return as I had to finish my studies, and besides, my Mother started to show her frustrations at having to take care of me. However, nobody wanted to take me back to the sanatorium. I felt that I was becoming even more of a burden to my family, especially, to my Mother.* * *
There were many things in the way that she treated me that I did not understand back then, but have since figured out.
It is a bath time- Mother lowers me into the bathtub, turns on the hot water and leaves. Water is pouring, the bath tab is already more than half full, it is becoming hotter and hotter. I do not want to move my limbs, because when moved, the part of the skin that has already gotten used to the hot water comes into contact with an almost boiling stream. It is hard to breathe because of the steam that is raising from the water, and filling up the room. But the scariest part is that the water keeps coming, and there is a moment when only my face is above the surface.
I endure for a while, and try to wait until the moment when Mother remembers about me, but still, she does not come. After the ill-fated 'treatment' in Saratov, she gave me the nickname "panic-monger", which she now uses every time she moves me from one place to another and sees how tense I become. I do not tense up on purpose, but in moments like these, my body begins to live separately from my mind. In the mean time, the water keeps coming.
I can't stand it any more so I yell: 'Mama, Mama!', but Mother had closed the doors tight behind herself. Besides, the bathroom is filled with the noise of pouring water. Finally, Mother shows up. She enters at exactly the same moment that breathing in the steam becomes unbearable, and my nose is above the water. I am barely able to keep my head near the surface.
Mother turns off the water and helps me to wash my hair and the rest of body. After that, she leaves, to let me to 'swim'. I lie there for some time, trying not to move. Gradually, my skin gets used to the temperature. Now, briefly, it becomes pleasant. In the water, my body seems weightless, and I can move arms and legs freely in a ways that are otherwise impossible for me.
In about twenty minutes, Mother shows up again and pulls out the plug. Waiting until the water is drained, she turns on the shower, and I begin to feel the cold, freezing fluid pouring into the tub. Mother quickly splashes this water over me. When it touches my chest, it feels as though the wind is being knocked out of me, my breath become arrested, and it takes me a while to catch it back again.
- Mama, the water is cold - I say in my voice breaking up, but I understand that she already knows that.
- There, splash yourself - she says, hands me the shower, and leaves once more.
I try not to let the icy jets to touch my chest again, aiming them instead towards my legs, away from my body. I still cannot catch my breath, and begin to shake. My teeth are chattering, my muscles are stiff from spasms. Time seems to drag on forever. In about ten minutes, my Mother reappears. She turns off the water, pulls me out of the bathtub. In the bedroom, she places me down on a towel on the floor, directly in front of an open window. She drops my shirt and briefs next to me.
- Put it on, - and leaves. My teeth are still chattering. In a while, I am able to overcome the trembling in all of my body, and to dress myself.
She followed this bathing ritual repeatedly during all of the time I stayed at home. This was most difficult during the winter, because, even if it was freezing outside, my Mother was still placing me, wet and naked, in front of an open window. After these 'procedures', it always took me forever to recover and to stop shaking.
I did not understand back then why everything was going the way it was. However, if I caught Pneumonia, it could easily become terminal, and my Mother knew it perfectly well. It is not hard to guess what she had in mind, but as a result, I survived and rarely catch a cold. It was many years later when I happened to catch Pneumonia, as a so-called 'hospital' infection.
I remember one time when my little sister, Tanya, walked up to me and all of a sudden slapped me over my face, on my cheek. Then, she thoughtfully looked into my eyes and hit me once more.
-Tanya, why? What did I do to you? - There was no pain, a nine-year old was not really that strong at all, but her actions made my heart to skip. My sister saw the tears in my eyes, turned away and left the room.
- So, how is he? - I heard my Mother's voice.
- Crying, - answered my sister.
I was not crying. I was drowning in tears.
For about half a year, my Grandpa had been spending lots of time visiting all sorts of bureaucrats from the city and regional medical services. After each appointment, he was always coming to our house to report the results. Finally, in the end of March, he brought long awaited news: 'Anton, next week you are going back to sanatorium!' He sounded delighted because my Mother had already worn him out with a constant reproach of not being able to place me back into sanatorium.
I did not even expect from myself that I would enjoy so much hearing his words.
I am going home!
I am going home from 'home'!
I went back to sanatorium, where everybody remembered me, everybody knew me. Instead of three months, as it was planned initially, I spent ten months living with my parents. I missed a school year, had to repeat the seventh grade, and regretted the time lost a lot. The time I spent home with my family disappeared from my memory almost completely, like this year never even happened in my life. Usually, memory takes care of painful recollections by erasing them. This is a good thing; otherwise, the life would turn into a nightmare.
* * *
At that time, my greatest desire of all was to have a family. To have the real family that would be really close to me. This dream still lives in my soul, till now. Instead, God keeps sending me friends, who are filling that emptiness, that gap. Thanks to my friends, I live and feel the fullness of the life. I feel them being close even from far, far away. My feelings to these friends are much wider and brighter that my feelings to my 'official' family. But, in spite of all, even it may appear very strange, I still continue to love my 'official relatives'.