When Rosalind Hunt was five, her mother sent her to the kindergarten. For the first time, Rosalind realised that her classmates had a “daddy” or “papa”.
She asked her mother then, “Mummy, why don’t I have a papa?”
Her mother, who was humming in tune with the song from the white box which was called a ‘radio’, stopped abruptly and her expression changed. Rosalind wished she had kept her mouth shut. Her mother looked unhappy.
Her mother pushed a knob on the radio and the song disappeared.
What have I done wrong? Rosalind wondered. She did not want her mother to be sad.
Her mother stared at the radio for a long time. Finally, she knelt and pulled Rosalind close until their noses almost touched. Her expression was now normal and cheerful. She said, “Rosalind darling, Mummy has wanted to tell you this for a long time.”
Tell me what, Mummy?
Her mother continued, “You have a papa too.”
Rosalind face brightened. She immediately recalled that afternoon while she waited at the school gate for her mother to fetch her, she saw a big car pull up to fetch her classmate who proudly said, “That’s my papa’s car.” The man in the car smiled and waved at her. Rosalind waved back. Her classmate repeated, “That’s my papa.” Rosalind could still remember vividly how her classmate peered and waved at her through the glass window as the car rumbled off. She had hoped then that she too had a papa so that he could drive her home instead of her having to walk in the hot sun.
Rosalind looked at her mother eagerly.
Her mother said, “Your papa is not a good man. He did not want us.”
Rosalind felt her stomach churn. He did not want us? Why? And did that mean she would never get to sit in a car, ever?
“Your papa left us the day you were born,” her mother said. “He said girls are useless. He said girls are weak.”
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