asha sultana
4 min readNov 11, 2019


twilight in a winter wonderland

hand prints in the snow

twilight in winter is so ephemeral

the sky’s blue color is so distinct, so unique and so fleeting

the freshness in the air. the delicious crunch of the snow underfoot. it really is utterly magical

each week we had the same routine and this was a saturday like any other

my mother and i would get ready to leave the house around 930am to go ‘shopping’. we would have breakfast, get dressed, put a few empty bags in her handbag for later. wrapped up warmly in a hat, scarf and mittens we set off for the 40 minute walk to the local shopping center.

i was only 10 years of age at this point and so her shoplifting didn’t bother me much, not yet anyway. at this point suffice it to say that i didn’t fully understand the repercussions. to add confusion to the matter, i would benefit from the outing by getting colorful pens, stickers and girly overpriced erasers that she would always make sure to steal on my behalf.

it was always a long day. exhausted from zigzagging in and out of all the shops and corridors we would start making our way home just before it got dark. at this time of the year 430pm felt more like 830pm. night was falling fast. the clouds were low and the snow was fresh under our feet. her bags were full of unpaid loot. her adrenaline and dopamine was running high i could see on her face how satisfied she was with herself. she got away with it, again. being deaf with a kid in tow is a great decoy. seriously, it is.

this rush always put my mother in a playful mood. i knew by now that this was not always a sign of good things to come. soon enough she decides she wants to push me into the snow bank by the sidewalk. she thought it was the funniest thing ever. to see me panic as i’m hurled forward into the snowbanks. my mother’s way of showing affection have always been unconventional to say the least. instead of hugs she would scratch my arm with her long nails. instead of paying me a compliment she would pull my hair. and pinching, well that was for all occasions.

her hand precisely landed right between my shoulder blades. there was no place for me to go but fall forward and use my hands to protect myself from the impact. i hadn’t put any mittens on yet, my hands were warm from being inside my coat pocket. the first shove made her giggle which is when my brow started to curl. i asked her to stop and feared that i knew where this was going. the second shove made her laugh. my confusion and anger grew. i tried to reason with her and by showing her how red my hands were. i said i didn’t like it. i said that it hurt. more than anything it hurt my feelings and broke my heart. nonetheless, the third shove came. there’s no time for heartbreak now, it feels like i have to choose between her amusement or my wellbeing, again. the cold from the snow was sharp on my skin. the big snow banks had old hard snow underneath this fresh coat. her actions and amusement utterly hurt my soul. my anger flared because i knew compassion or empathy would not be available, not from my mother anyway. rage spoke on my behalf and said what my young heart didn’t know how to say.

i shouted at her which of course is always pointless. she’s been deaf from the age of 2 and nothing makes anyone look more crazy than someone doing sign language and screaming at the same time. luckily there were few cars on the street and no one really saw the whole spectacle. an audience is the last thing any of us needed. despite being my mother’s translator, i would not know how to explain this if anyone asked.

i could see in her face that she didn’t understand why i was angry. and i’m thinking….why this yet another thing i had to explain to her? i didn’t understand why i had to explain empathy, kindness and gentleness to my own mother? why it’s my job as her child to figure out how to have this conversation? she is deaf, yes. but does that mean she has no heart? her deafness does not affect her humanity, her empathy….or does it?

i stormed off ahead of her. tears burning my eyes and streaming down my cheeks. i felt panic. i felt fear. i had no where to run for solace. as we arrived home i was bracing myself. i knew what was coming.

as we opened the front door of our apartment, she began. she began recruiting allies in her attack towards me. she proceeded to tell my father and sister how awful i was. how all three of her children are a waste. how we will always hate her and push her away simply because she is deaf. how i was heartless and awful child. telling the same old story of pity that she, a deaf woman would have such a disrespectful and contemptuous child.

there was no point in defending myself. i didn’t want yet another slap from my father. i wasn’t in the mood to hear my sister rage at me for hours on end, again. the reprimands from the collective only lasted about 20 minutes until some tv show managed to distract them from me. small miracle.

once their attention had shifted from me and onto something else, i went to my room and carefully unwrapped the expensive hello kitty eraser my mother had just shoplifted for me earlier.

i noticed my hands were still bright pink from the frostbite, pretty much the same shade as the eraser. unfortunately, what had just happened could never be rubbed off and would leave a mark on my heart forever.



asha sultana

transylvanian ~ canadian ~ african ~ polyglot ~ curious ~ whole ~ complicated ~ emancipating ~ ephemeral ~ untamed ~ free