Mom, do you remember me?

by Matthew Lu
Issue: Nostos (Winter 2019)

The cup of green tea in my hands steams. I bring the cup a little higher, but my fingers tremble. I look outside the window to see it snowing heavily. So heavily, that even I feel the chill inside the house, which finally compels me to drink a sip of tea. As the tea flows through my body, I’m filled with an earthy warmth. The bitterness almost hurts for a moment and I just want to forget everything around me.

Mother is standing in front of me. She has come once again, like every other day, smiling at me and holding a cup of tea for me. The tea is in a small clay teacup, because Mother always told me a clay teacup would bring out the nuttiness of the tea. Mother knew how to make the best tea, using the best water and precise steeping times. Even during my most stressful days, a good cup of tea helps me relax. The smoothness of the tea allows me to be immersed in its flavor.

This time, she is holding something else in her other hand. Apple scones. These are new. I take one and bite into it, feeling the soft crust crumble in my mouth. The sweetness of the apple enhances the aftertaste of the green tea, causing an explosion in my mouth. The strength of the flavor from two subtle foods seem near impossible to reach. Yet, it is achieved, immediately bringing a smile to my face. The tea and scones really combine to become a whole meal. Each food compliments the other. I want to eat more, but I can’t taste anything anymore, reminding me that this is just a memory. A bittersweet one.

I open my eyes, back in the house. I’m seeing a house, but it isn’t this one. It’s somewhere I haven’t gone in so long. Home, where Mother would wait for me everyday when I came back from school as a kid. Mom, it has been years since I last saw you. I stare at the reflection on the cup. Have my eyes always looked like this? I remember the light in Mother’s eyes and dash outside. Mom, I’m coming to see you. The snow is beating down on me, but I am not deterred. I arrive at the train station and go onto Line 17, one that I haven’t
ridden in forever.

I’m sitting on the train and I look outside the window. It is no longer snowing as hard, but rather it has begun to drizzle a little. The sky is turning a light shade of gray, while the rain hits its constant rhythm. The subtle gloominess isn’t unsettling at all, but actually quite relaxing. The sky has turned into a dark gray, and
it is raining harder than before.

Mom, I’m scared.

Most people are scared of these moments, fearing that a storm will follow. Many years ago, I too was terrified of the rain. The loud battering sounds made me cry. Yet, Mother would come over and hold me closely, gently patting my head. Yes, I’m going to be okay. Mother always told me about the rainbow that comes after a storm. The rain always tells me that something better will come. Mom, I’m so close to you. Will you hold my hands? With a smile on my face, I doze off…

It’s been a few hours. I wake up to see a bright sunny day, and that I’ve arrived at my stop. I run off the train, thinking of a house that I haven’t seen in so long. Is it still the same light blue color it was all those years ago? Is my room still the same matcha green I painted myself? All these thoughts fill my head, only making me more eager.

The trees here have turned yellow. The leaves are swaying in the autumn wind. I see a pile of leaves in the corner of my eye, feeling an urge to jump into it, like when I was a child. Mom, I’m almost there. My heart beats a little faster and I go from a walk to a jog. I haven’t been here in so long. I want to be home again. It’s the final stretch.

At last, I see Mother at the door, sweeping the leaves away. She looks up, dropping the broom in her hands. I rush to her and give her a hug. As I pull her closer to me, a tear rolls down my cheek.

Mom, I’m home.