will suck the calcium from your bones," the midwife warned me when
the embryo was just a cashew-sized blip somewhere inside me. I heeded her
and took the nauseating orange pre-natal calcium pills. Then she was born,
a starveling with burning eyes, and my bones are brittle, and now I see
the curve of her cheek and I know the cure for my crumbling infrastructure
is to eat her.
"God bless, god bless," say the admiring Dominican grandmothers in the neighborhood. "Ooh, she is so delicious!" say the parents in the park. Delicious, yes, she is. All her personal grandmothers, and she has many, have said at various times that they want to take a bite of her and eat her, and I smile at their jokes but I REALLY WANT TO BASTE HER IN BUTTER AND SLURP HER UP.
Some days the mood is Japanese; Daughter with Daikon, with maybe a little plum paste on the side. Sometimes I hanker after Italian; Toddler Tortellini, with a meatball sauce. Indian, of course; a spicy little condiment, my little dot, beside a mound of fragrant basmati rice and black dal. I want to kiss and hug her, true, but I also long to stuff and spice, bake and bite, chop and chew her.
"Breast milk is best," they all said, and so I dutifully produced breast milk, cups of it, buckets of it, vats of it, the Mad Cow of Rivington Street. She guzzled with glee, as easily as she sucked the calcium from my bones and the strength from my spine. All the best of me, all the brightest and strongest and tastiest, is manifest in this little person, this new New Yorker who loves sushi and lichees and venison and soy chips. So why shouldnt I get some back?
No need to get all worked-up and call Social Services. I know I cant have my child and eat it too--Im a mother, not a Dahmer. I will not harm her, I will crush my bones to powder for her if I need to. But I will continue to lick my lips when I see her lying asleep. I see the little padded dimples around her elbows and I want to put olive oil in them, perhaps a dash of red pepper, and crunch and gobble. I want to put whipped cream on that smooth brown stomach and add a little chocolate wafer--ooh, and what about Babys Bottom with pistachio icing? Stop, stop, this is getting beyond the boundaries of taste, someone will call Social Services.
My friend Rana works at UNICEF, the worlds official childcare agency. He said one day he mentioned how much he wanted to eat up somebodys baby, and a mother overheard him. She reprimanded him severely, and told him that was just so offensive. Well, Im here to tell you, Rana, with all the authority of my stretch marks and the undeniable reality of my jubilant child, that Im with you, man, bring on the hot sauce, bring on the marron glacé, I salivate with thoughts of this tasty little bit of eternity, of taking her back, of melting her into my blood and bone, where she began.
Shes my mozzarella ball, shes my sugared almond. Shes my bun from my oven.
SOHAILA ABDULALI lives on the Lower East Side. She has published a novel and three children's books, as well as short stories and articles in publications all over the world. She has just finished a memoir of life with an aboriginal woman.