We left home in batches. First was my sister who left on the 3rd, then my brother next to me and my sister in college this evening, and finally my brother and I who are leaving tomorrow afternoon. Our mother who has long entrusted the fate of her six children in the hands of her Almighty never fails to say a prayer every time any of her children leaves home.
She sheds tears whenever she does it. She prays with all the drama and theatrics she can muster. She summons all the beautiful words in her dictionary without being conscious of it. Like she is in trance, our mother metamorphoses into a bestial virgin whose only reason for being is to say prayers for the deity she is serving.
No one dares interrupt her or make funny sounds if in the middle of her prayer the atmosphere starts to become comic, at least in my eyes. Entertaining funny thoughts while she prays is tantamount to blasphemy, at least that is how it seems to me. One time, I did the unspeakable and peeped in the slit of my eyes, I almost got blinded. I never again did something as profane as that ever again.
My mother cannot be described as devout, although she and my father attend Mass every Sunday. We’re all Roman Catholic in the family, but none of my siblings is a hardcore believer. In the hierarchy of the faithful, our mother is the strongest believer in the family. This explains why she’s our prayer leader by default.
She prays for her children’s safety, health, and future. Although her prayers follow a form whose pattern becomes evident the moment one hears her the second time, each of her prayer is different from anything she has said before. Every twitch on her face gives a unique character to every word that exudes from her mouth. Only when she prays do I see the equilibrium of the fragile balance existing between spoken language and kinesics. Her tears, the folds on her forehead, the pout of her lips when she gasps for air, her grammatical errors, the mispronounced words, the compound-complex sentences she is so fond of using, not to mention the run-ons and comma splices, all these make up the poetry of my mother’s prayers. All these transform my mother’s prayers into the greatest of Literature making Neruda, Borges, or Elliot’s poems stand pale in comparison.