My mother's eldest cousin is visiting from Britain.

So today, several members of the extended family threw a lunch for him at my aunt's house. Normally I like going to my aunt's house - her two children, especially the 9-year-old, are a *delight*.

But my mother was there.

I don't like seeing my mother. Seeing her, no matter what she says or does, brings back the brutal memories of how bitterly she despised me when I was a teenager, and how utterly unloved and unwanted I felt. Often nightmares follow a visit or phone call from either parent. Or there are the relapses into depression, waves of powerful, stabbing pain, like a knife twisting inside, tearing apart my heart and destroying my soul.

For over a year I have kept visits and phone calls to the strictest of minimums, giving no other reason than that I "needed to heal". The family, of course, assumes that I am living a prosperous independent life.

Talking to her about the past, is, of course, impossible. She only starts to cry and go miserable and talk of suicide if I tell her how totally unloved I felt as a teen.

She of course knows nothing of the raw pain and depression I went through last year - forced to take unpaid leave from my job for a year, forced into hospital for suicidal impulses, tortured and debilitated by a depression that turned life into a living hell, filled with nightmares.

Today I was in a testy mood, clipped of tongue and short of speech, and spending more time with other relatives than her. So she went into depressed mode. At once the theatre show became obvious to all. Heartless Son Sits Stony-Faced as Mother Weeps from Loneliness. More than one relative quietly whispered to me "you should call your mother more often, we owe much to our parents".

My mother is not faking this depression, she does not have the acting skill for that. It is I who do have the skill to hide my own, for I know that to tell the family of it would be a sign of weakness that would doom me to semi-lunatic status in their eyes.

They sit who stand in judgment. I care nothing for the opinions of ignorant relatives. But anger is inside me, anger that I remain silent over the injustices of the past, anger that my mother's pain is there for all the world to see while mine is hidden, dark and secret. Anger at the past, at every sneer from my mother, every twisted lip and spiteful remark that cut me down so many times.

Do not ask me to forget and forgive. I will not. I will not forget the dark tears of lonely despair seeping into the carpet when I was fifteen. I will not forget the knife she brandished at me when I was 16. I will not forget being told she hated me when I was 9. I will not forget having to watch every word, muffle every tear, freeze every emotion, subserviate every thought to her and his will.

I am so old. And I was never young.

S-youth, Oct. 13, 1997