I hate my mother’s hands.
I hate the way the gnarled veins weave across her tendons. The cold, rough skin stretching over the bones.
In the sun, the scars on her knuckles glint white. Each earned through countless days of digging in the earth, scrubbing floors, filling the unbalanced washing machine that shook the entire house. Pockmarks earned from tired slips grating vegetables, scraping rice from the bottom of the barrel to create some semblance of dinner for a houseful of hungry kids.
I hate the band that adorns her ring finger. I hate how the tiny diamond glimmers with a veneer of safety and comfort, shining with the ennui of a passionless but stable escape. The hope and promise it brings of a retirement she would never otherwise earn.
I hate how, at her age, her hands are still calloused from toiling through long days of physical labor. The fear that drives her to work, worried that the promise around her finger could still fall through. Like it has too many times before.
I love that her hands never struck us, but hate that they never struck back. Even when his were ruthlessly punitive.
I hate how her hands look increasingly like my grandmother’s (whose hands also never struck back). The veins larger, more purple, more obvious. The skin more cracked and wrinkled. The silent story of a woman who had never known a day of rest.
I hate that my hands look increasingly like hers, the hands she might have had. I hate that my hands lack the scars and callouses, but carry the trepidation. I hate that my hands—like my mother’s, my grandmother’s, my sister’s—never struck back.
I hate the legacy of your hands. Generations of hands sewn together with timidity and resolve. The quiet strength of hands that never tremble as you endure multitudes, yet never clench into a fist, never rise into the air, never strike through the chaos engulfing you.
I hope your hands are soft and hard. That the skin will never callous, but your fists will be ever ready for a fight that never comes. I hope you love your hands, and that your love is the birthright gifted to you by generations of women with ugly, gnarled, timid fists.
Malo is a queer artist who oscillates between the fear of being discovered and being forgotten.