When I was younger, I lived all alone with my mum. Her face was always the same, her cheeks coloured by the twin dabs of powder she applied on both sides, her hair stained with the glossy mixture she smeared upon it that smelled so much like the strawberry I loved. Strawberry was extremely scarce, so it often disturbed me as to why one would rub such expensive condiment on the hair, only to have it washed away, wasted like it meant nothing to them. It disturbed me so much that on one cool evening, I snuck into her room to that small shelf where she usually kept all her accessories. I picked the object of my concern and I raised it up. It looked so beautiful in the moonlight that illuminated the room. I brought it from its elevated height of worship down to my nose, and at once, the familiar scent of my craving rushed straight up my nose to my brain, taking along a pin with him, bursting all my bubbles of reason and caution. Soon it was in my mouth and I began sucking and pressing, trying to get the shiny substance in it out into my mouth. A successful attempt it was, satisfaction clouded my eyes and I soon emptied its contents. I expected more satisfaction at the savoury taste that I had been longing for, expected to feel the warmth of sweetness in my mouth, but all that came was nothing, only a tingling and piercing taste of nothing. I immediately began a quest to get the substance out of my mouth. The more frantic my efforts, the more it dominated my mouth. I began spewing thick globs of spit, scrubbing my tongue with every piece of cloth I could view in my closed eye frenzy. My tongue felt like it was on fire, I tried to perform my mouth cleansing operation, in as much quiet as possible, but my mouth didn't agree. It being fed up of the suffering it was going through decided to protest. It began with some low tuned ahh's in rhythm with each scrub I gave my tongue, and when it felt like the pain wasn't going to end, let out a yell. My whole body soon followed suit; abandoning operation quiet that we all agreed on. I fell on the floor, rolling and yelling till my mum came running up the stairs. Her heavy footsteps initially would have been a source of panic to me, but now it was the footsteps of salvation. When she entered and saw me on the floor, she quickly scanned through the room to get what was going on, and in search of any threat that might have been the source of my predicament. She saw the opened tube of her strawberry hair relaxer lying empty on the floor, and I still engrossed in my service of mouth cleansing, my yells reduced to short whimpers. Instantly, her demeanour of worry and concern, changed to a terrifying one. She pulled me up from the floor with my ear, promptly picked me up and slung me across her shoulder, and began smacking my backside as we journeyed down the stairs, reigniting the flames of my yells. She set me down roughly on our sitting room couch and left me in my plight. I began thinking about what just happened. I knew what strawberry tasted like. Grandma always brought me some when she came visiting, and I knew it certainly didn't taste like what I consumed up there. She came back moments later with a strong-smelling mixture she had in a cup. It was supposed to help remove the tingling sensation as she said. I accepted the cup wholesome, forgetting my disdain for anything bitter, as I would have accepted anything that would douse the flames in my mouth. I began drinking in full gulps, not bothering about the taste, just let the flames die. At my young age of eight, I didn't know much about death, but had heard enough of it to know it wasn't a good thing. Papa I was told died because he ate something he wasn't supposed to eat. Mother never remained the same after that, I never saw her smile and she was always never there, except in the evening. Mum just ordered me to go to bed, with a note that we would be visiting the doctor tomorrow morning. Her reaction wiped out my earlier fear of death, but not my pangs of hunger. I hadn't had dinner because she didn't give me any. She probably forgot, and I was too scared to ask. As I lay on my bed that night, clutching my belly and stifling groans. I journeyed back into my world of thoughts, the thoughts of the strawberry. I wondered on and came to a conclusion. Maybe they created a new strawberry, one with a different taste, because they sure smellled the same. As I lay there; begging sleep to come take me in his warm embrace, to save me from the war going on in my belly, I reasoned that whoever created the new strawberry, must be a very wicked fellow, with a terrible taste. I imagined him to be a man and I started painting his grotesque features, creating them in my mind even as sleep listened to my appeal, and put out my lights.
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