I was so small, back then.
I think I lived alone.
I was in a dark, cluttered alley. Empty boxes stacked high and always tumbling over each other.
There was only one window with a light on. The only light in the alley. That’s where Mama Tumbaka lived.
She was dark, and vastly mysterious.
She would come and go for hours, it seemed, but when she showed up in the window, my heart would jump and I had to hide.
There was this fear. This unyielding, consuming fear for my life. I would keep myself up all night, with wishing.
Waiting for her to toss something from her window, as she prepared breakfast for the next day.
Pancakes. I could smell them like I was in the same room.
I would get bold, and sometimes she saw me. I know she did, because she’d raise her rolling pin, and wave it at the window, saying something I couldn’t really understand. But I knew she was telling me to leave.
I was cold, I was hungry. So I stayed there, in the alley. Wishing.
I even saw her children a couple of times. They didn’t resemble Mama Tumbaka at all. They were always running around, and they were so loud. She yelled at them occasionally, and they didn’t seem terrified as I was.
I knew they were the ones to hide from. But only their Mama had the rolling pin…
I use the word “fear”, instead of “confusion”. Because when you’re that small, in an alley that dark, hungry as I was back then, every moment felt like the edge of existence.
I did eventually get fed that night. I only remember waking up after that. Dinosaur shapes in repeated patterns decorated my blanket.
My nightlight glowing. Still scared, still cold, I tried to sleep.
I thought it must have been a dream. I’m still learning.
I guess this is why I don’t like pancakes all that much anymore.