Years of fixation and trying to get out of it
I found my anger in the middle of myself
*Wrote before making “Sweet Sweats”
Râu câu (agar) is the first dessert my mother taught me; a fundamental dish.
The overall process of making agar is to reduce water by simmering down and condensing the sweetened liquid to the desirable consistency that would give a texture pleasing for oneself. The liquid with cooked agar will solidify after it cools down, but for a sense of satisfaction, it should be chilled in the fridge for a few hours. The dish is very easy in technicality, if one measures everything correctly it would taste good. But, my mother eyeballs her measurements, making the dish fully with her own choices of sweetness, bitterness, and refreshingness. I learned from her, her choices of love and hatred.
They say, love is like a boiling pot of water, so hatred must be the very opposite, simmering down. Those childhood summer days were full of the ‘mother-daughter’, love and hatred; the polars that were incredibly blurry for a child to distinguish. I could never fully remember, perhaps because of the heat, but the conversations that happened during those lessons of making this dessert, shaped her identity inside of me. I ate too much of what was her, then I lost my own. A growing child was stunted by the love of her own mother, for she had too much of that same love given to her by her own mother and the mothers before that.
For the agar to simmer down, it must first boil up. How does one learn to love and face the hatred that immerses right within the process of loving? All during the making of something I love to consume, râu câu, I remember the strict yellings, the arguments, and the mistakes that I kept repeating. I was constantly facing a crisis of someone else’s pressure to be a part of the ideal female roles. Repetitions: stirrings, yellings, breakings, beatings, tastings, eatings: they all slowly became the making of built-up hatred. Somewhere between this love-hate-consume-inserting dynamics, and somewhere between my coming of age, somewhere in my lung-full of drowsy cries, I defied the things I love. A reversion. The flip one must do to serve râu câu. Pops it off the mold on a dish.
I love her love her love her lover her, but does she? She moved away, she kept moving away from me, in disappointment, in discontent, was it me? I have not become successful in being her. I deny the love that ignores my own. Who could forgive the things that are embedded deeper than the umbilical cords. I came upon a room, behind doors and beyond times, they did not belong to my familiar homescape, perhaps because she had left, perhaps because I drove her away, and I was there, full of hatred. The hatred bellied in my lungs, it stopped me from breathing. My body circulation deformed, I thought of rock, solid, anger, then I wanted to chase her down, to kill her off. Stop that hatred. Stop the pain. Be in control. Once and for all.
Kill her off then my anger would stop. To stop the mixture that could not be relieved by either being allowed to evaporate and disperse. The violence grew fast, it has been simmering for too long. Now condensed and solidified. This is my hatred for her. The guilt for hating another woman evaporated elsewhere. I did not care that I inhabited the female body and wanted to destroy another.
I said “no justification needed”.
Yet, I still saw myself through my dream and feared for the measures of my own self in that dream, an entity that could cause harm in the dreamworld reality— too inhuman. I shutted down that hateful landscape, ran to another infinity, but the abject anger resurfaced itself in a cold room. There sat a chilled piece of clear hatred. Inside the transparent rectangular block of anger, I saw something even more concrete, even imagined a light sweet aftertaste, another block of this pure white anger, silence. The place was quiet, I could hear my own heart beating. The beatings, I couldn’t do anything about this hatred covered in anger stored in a chilled room. Seeing the block, haunted by it because my brain had visualized this hatred to lead me through this dream. I couldn’t move, I just stood and remembered the dream before I flipped and rose up.
Reconsumption to disperse and redistribute:
Here is the hatred, assumedly for my mother, the ‘mother’, but it also portrays the womanhood, the femininity that every woman, perhaps specifically Vietnamese women, are born into, and the lack thereof what is truly hers, what is not a woman. Every instance that these identities of the woman being spoon-fed to me, I instantly defy, and the chain of reactions finally resulted in this outer body confrontation— the dream. I call it hatred because it fits the category of what people describe ‘hatred’ to be, but perhaps it is something else. The realization of why there is this struggle between the dynamic of my mother and I and what she signifies allowed me to understand categorically what is love and hatred. Somewhere between the lines of asking those questions, the fixations relaxed and dissipated.
I don’t believe I can grow with this fixation in hatred. And the clear relation to the dessert that I onced called love, the scent of agar, its jiggly form, has resurfaced in the dream. Something she has given me, as a sign of love. I recognized this reformation of love into hatred, I recognize the inescapable hatred toward the identity that I should love and embrace, because I perhaps am not just female. My denials became hatred. If that was a pure embodiment of hatred. This violence, unradically, must go away. My solution is to create that form. Confront it. Consume it, because it does not go away by any other forms of discarding. We would fight again, then the anger would rise right there from the unconscious to the top of my lungs. Something I want to grow out of. When something becomes singular, it is frightening, so I should redistribute it again into my body, some will be outed as waste, but at least this time when it is re-consumed, and I would have learned of it.