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A Letter From my Daughter

When my daughter was still in elementary school and lived under the same roof with me, she gave me a letter. She laid it on
letter from my daughter
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When my daughter was still in elementary school and lived under the same roof with me, she gave me a letter. She laid it on my desk carefully and conspicuously, without putting it inside an envelope like she always did. (She usually used a lovely illustrated envelope when sending letters to her friends.)

The letter was written with a black pencil. (That was also unusual; she preferred writing with coloured pens to her friends.) At the end, she always drew an illustration alongside the letter. She preferred expressing herself by drawings when she found it difficult to express something with words. Likewise, she could suggest what she really wanted to say. But this time, she openly declared her determination by drawings and words as well.

I discovered it the morning after she went to school. It was on March 30, 2004. 

She didn’t write the date, but I added it in the margin of the letter immediately after reading it.

That was because I decided to keep it for my whole life as a treasure. 

So, I kept it in a clear file folder with care, then put it into one of my desk’s drawers: the special one reserved only for my most precious things – safely locked inside. In this manner, the letter was archived by her mother.

We quarreled the previous day – mother versus daughter. Being an adult, energetic working mother back then, I was overwhelmingly superior to her in every possible way.

On the other hand, she was completely dependent on me as a child, a fragile minor, legally helpless and powerless without a guardian, in all respects. That was why she sometimes criticized me by saying that I was a tyrant. I have already forgotten the reason for our quarrel, but according to her letter, I scolded her in a loud and harsh voice, and unreasonably ordered, “Get out!”

These might be the typical words that many mothers (or fathers?) in the world use to intimidate their kids when they lose their temper, because they don’t know how to deal with their own sons and daughters. Or, I might have told her, “You are not my little girl anymore. Get out!” (To be honest, until now, I do not remember what I said.)

illustration letter to mother

To Mother

You grown-ups, 

what you say and what you do are not the same. 

You say one thing, and you do another. 

Never consistent. 

Yesterday, you said one thing.

Today, you say another.

I don’t know what you are going to say tomorrow.

That’s why I don’t trust grown-ups. 

But I had believed until yesterday that you, mother, were different. 

Different from other grown-ups. 

And today, I have realized that you are the same. 

The same as other grown-ups. 

I am no longer the little girl who trusted you.

Who respected you.

What’s worse was your threatening behaviour.

You intimidated me.

You must remember that scaring me can never work if you want me to obey you. 

Never threaten me again, otherwise you may lose me forever. 

In case that tragedy comes true, very unfortunately, you will be left behind without Tenten because I am sure that Tenten will come along with me. 

She is always on my side, because she knows that you are a tyrant and I am the oppressed.

Illustrations are by Kaori Usui who used to create greeting postcards with her drawings in her childhood, as favour to her mother, and that activity cultivated her original artistic taste. She is now a lawyer by profession, and sometimes creates her drawings on postcards for her family and friends.

Mayumi Yamamoto is a writer and academic based in Kyoto, Japan. Her poems have appeared in Literary Yard, and some opinions in Indian Periodical. She authored several published books in the Japanese language.

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