Within the human body, there are hundreds of processes and reactions taking place. Some are physical, others emotional, and many are mental. However, humans are the only beings that shed true tears. There are three types of tears: basal, reflexive, and psychic. The media company, “The Swaddle,” found that basal tears protect the cornea and lubricate the eyeball. Reflexive tears occur when the eye is irritated and is attempting to get rid of the irritation. Psychic tears occur based on emotional triggers.
My mother cries psychic tears. She does this all the time. In her room. By herself. In the dark. In secret. My mother has a whale’s heart. It is far too heavy and far too full. It requires special treatment and careful care.
Early morning, a rapping from my door. Knock, Knock, Knock. My mother's lines deepen and her eyes slide away from her face, staring at me from the hallway. What an odd image to see at six in the morning, but not unusual.
My mother has not been home since the beginning of the 21st century. She has been surrounded by foreign people and foreign land. There is an unspoken realization that her home is gone. Bulldozed by the new inhabitants, they live above the graves of her childhood.
She has not seen her mom in over 20 years. Felt her touch, ate her food, or heard her voice vibrate from within her mother’s throat and bounce off the walls into her own ears. My mom lives her days in a constant state of waiting.
There is always a part of me that fears the worst may happen before she sees her again. My mother, a prisoner in her country. That morning, the worst knocked on my door.
“Mom is sick. Mom is in the hospital. Mom needs money. Your dad says no. Please help me! Send money, please help!” I’ve never had a favorite parent, different days shift my opinions of them. They behave and react to how they were raised. They can not be blamed for what they cannot help, yet at times, I feel that they can. So I can not favor one over the other.
But today I must choose. I must choose who to disobey, my mom or my dad. If I don’t help, I give my father power, the kind he holds above my mother’s head. If I do, my mother rebels against the machismo of our culture. I have the opportunity to give her back the freedom she never lost.
In psychology, the concept of learned helplessness is one that most fascinated me and intrigued my mind like no other. This idea that if I am met with a negative stimulus each time I attempt the same thing, I will eventually give up. I will no longer attempt even when the outcome has been promised, guaranteed. As exhibited by rats in electrical cages, science experiments that have succeeded, I would rather die than try again. At that moment, however, I did not think of rats trapped in electrical fences giving up on escaping, as the door remains open, their fear of being shocked engulfs their senses.
I thought of my mother, confined to the words of a man, begging for help. The fear of being yelled at, being told off, or getting in trouble has not prevented her just yet. There is hope in her eyes and I decide that I will not let the electrical cages win. I will never be a rat. We will not be rats.
So I do. I send a man, a man I have never met, money because my mom asks me to. I send $200 and she hands me the bills. No loss, no foul. Quick, easy, and efficient, as all things should.
The author's mother