Tuesday, January 18, 2011
A Good Woman
As this January morning whitened, I took a taxi. The news was on and a story about a violent act committed by a youth was broadcast. The driver, hands clenched tightly on the wheel, expressed to me that, "The problem with the world today is that women think about their careers instead of thinking about their duty as wives and mothers."
His words are expressed politely, but there is an edge to them. "Life can be complex," I murmur. "No," he says. "My daughter will be a good woman."
From his mirror dangles a laminated photo of two children. The little girl looks out with huge, limpid brown eyes. I wonder about her. She’s wearing an orange butterfly clip in her thick, dark hair. I stare at it. A butterfly meant to be probing the heart of tiger lilies, meant to be ascending the sky in papery bursts, improbably strong. Will she find herself stretching, constrained, bound by glass walls she can’t escape?
The silence between me and the driver grows. I want to tell him that our children bear all our hopes, and fears, and expectations. That, these we wrap around us in the guise of love and care. I say nothing more, except, "Thank you" and "Have a good day", as I leave the taxi.
As I trudge through the snow, something in me yearns towards the little girl in the picture. A nice man, and one I’m sure cares deeply for his family, the taxi driver perhaps cannot see the butterfly he pleasantly hopes to confine within a jar. Should I have tried to say more, I ponder? I felt incapable of articulating any words which might have bridged the chasm between us. Am I being too judgmental, too righteous, too fanciful?
Later, I think of the paradoxes inherent in the form and physics of snow. It can be soft and hard. Light and heavy. Thick and delicate. It freezes and insulates. It compacts and fluffs. It is both secretive in what it hides and open-faced in what it presents. It can be so implacably glaring, and yet so softly, amorphously beautiful.
Like a good woman.