2. 9. 2021

English Version | The trunk of my root

by Catarina Mira


In front of me I have the crib. It's still missing the sheets, pillows and you, lulled into a light sleep like the flow of a stream, just as I picture you now inside my uterus. I don't know your gender, I did not want to know, nor the name you will be given. But I know the choreography of your movements inside my belly. It was around my fourth month of pregnancy that still in doubt I said: “I think I felt the baby”.

Your father placed his hand on my stomach but, in the absence of any movement, said that maybe it was just gas, causing those present to burst out laughing. “Maybe,” I agreed, although believing that the tickle I had just felt was distinct from any intestinal activity. It was a moment of our own, imperceptible at the level of the epidermis. A ballet for which only I got a ticket. This private show that you allow me daily will be on stage for just a few more weeks. Then you'll begin your tour, where you'll give to those who love you, even without knowing you, the chance to hold you, to contemplate the slow undulation of your yawn and your velvety skin just like the peaches that grow in your great-grandmother's Elizabete yard. She, whose blindness took away the privilege of ever coming to know the colour of your eyes, will trace the map of your features with her rough fingers equal to the trunks of those same trees where we will sit in the shade. Although unable to see you, I'm sure she'll say, perhaps with tears in her eyes: “what a beautiful baby".

In the air, suspended, the clouds floated. It was December. We had decided to finally start a family very recently. The pregnancy test revealed two pink lines. One was a little too pale, which made me doubt its accuracy. As I, paralysed, tried to decipher them, your father, in a voice that seemed very distant and almost inaudible despite his proximity, read the pamphlet confirming that, despite the squalidity of the test, I was indeed pregnant. Realizing that life pulsed inside me, I collapsed in his arms in a silent cry that drenched his chest with tears of happiness and surprise. Allow me to rewind back to the summer of 2020. The world lived in breathless anguish, a pandemic had silenced the streets and the world population found themselves captive in their own homes where once divorced from the distractions of the hustle and bustle of life, was forced to cohabit with their own turmoil and inner ghosts. Despite having been ill for many years with this pathology so often camouflaged by fraudulent smiles, it was around this time that your father was diagnosed with severe depression. A mental disorder that, as the name of the villain in the Harry Potter saga, still “Shall Not Be Named”. It's bizarre to think that the biggest killer of men under 45 years of age is just a mute extra on the stages that are conversations between friends and family. Depression. Depression. Depression. Depression. I repeat so that, even in the nest that is my womb, you may know that in the house where you will be born, your pains will never be a reason for censorship.

Not wanting to soften the prickly truth, there were often times when I feared the worst. When I recognized in your father's dull gaze the inability to see any other solution than extinction. I feared that the happiness with which, with his eyes closed, every morning I see him reach for the top of my belly would never materialize. I feared that instead of burning flame, he would turn into ash. I feared that the square meter of my embrace didn't have room for all his restlessness. Mostly I feared that he would wither like an autumn leaf from crying on the inside out.

It was after another sleepless night, in the company of the intruding thoughts that continuously ran over his senses announcing constant fictional catastrophes, that he made the decision. He waited for me to wake up and pushing the hair away of my eyes, tucking it into the curve of my ear like a curtain, said: "I'm going to make an appointment with the psychologist." This was not the first time, but the fourth, that your father had accepted to receive professional help. The difference is that, in this occurrence, the initiative came from him instead of my insistence. I hugged him and, at last, unchained a sigh that had been kept imprisoned for years from the impossibility of not being able to help someone who did not want to be helped.

The months that followed were marked by many hours of therapy through zoom - curiously, in the space that became your bedroom. With time, medication, discipline, and many overdue tough conversations, his negative thoughts began to fade like soap bubbles in a harmonious flight. Your father finally became a bird freed from the cage that was his mind.

When we lay you down in this crib in front of me, we will read you tales of disenchantment. Tales where our whole being is split, where what's right is imperfect and not every pumpkin is a carriage. To love is to attend several funerals of the same person and still choose to love each other in every reincarnation.

You, the trunk of my root, are the result of this slow and long metamorphosis. You are the seed in the ground and the sprout in the spring. You are the love that branches. You are the Big Bang theory. You are, simultaneously, the first chapter and the happy ending. You, who are closer to me than anyone has ever been, were our wish long postponed by fear.

Could it be that, from within your cocoon, you peek at the world through my eyes? Could it be that, through them, you detect in your co-author's face the desire he has to kiss the valley between your eyebrows and to massage the river that is that fragile spine of yours? Could it be that, even in that liquid bed, you know that for you he will be reborn as many times as necessary?

It is in this comma that is your birth that the rest of our lives begin. Me, an aquarium about to become a spring. You, a cell of this body called the universe. Two hearts in one body, waiting for each other as euphoric as those waiting for rain in the desert. Don't take too long.

Originally translated from the New Beginnings issue, published September 2021.
Full credits and stories on the print issue.