Trigger warning: eating-disorder behaviours – continued from Part Two
“Do you want to go to Tita Baby’s house?” My mother asked.
I didn’t want to go. But it wasn’t acceptable to stay home all day eating while lying down on your couch.
As all titas do, Tita Baby loved to feed me. As soon as I sat down on her couch, she would hand me shrimp chips and my mind would proceed to go absolutely blank, soothed by the rhythmic crunching the chips conducted. I would sit there, slumped over. The rolls of my stomach were my cushion and the soft sounds of the kitchen kept me alert: there was more food. Endless amounts of food.
Drowning out the unfamiliar scents and sounds would only work for so long. As the chatter around me grew louder, the symphony of the chips grew softer. Soon, the titos and titas would encircle me. I imagined them speaking in phrases I couldn’t understand, poking and prodding at my cheeks and stomach, smiling just a little too wide at something hidden from me. Trembling, I squeezed myself into the corner of the couch, embraced by a pocket of darkness. I remembered how my mother would scoop me up in her arms and I wanted to be squeezed so tight that I would be unable to think anymore. I closed my eyes and wished I could go home; I imagined I was seated on my sweet, supple couch.
When I opened my eyes, my mother stood in front of me. I didn’t dare look at her face, but I accepted her offering: she brought over a paper plate of adobo, and I ate away at it with my plastic spoon and fork. Each time the contrast of tangy vinegar and starchy rice hit my tongue was a moment of sheer bliss. When I had scraped the plate clean, I didn’t have time to slip into a reverie — my mother replenished it with some of the sinigang she had brought to the party. I went straight for the tomato shreds, slurping them down my throat.
“Hoy, she’s getting so chubby!” one of the titas said. I didn’t look away from my plate, but I knew she was talking about me.
Everyone was laughing. I could feel them looking.
I had to leave. I hoisted my little body off the couch, running down the stairs to the washroom, into darkness.
I felt a metallic taste gushing up my throat, and my eyes straining out of their sockets. I remembered that the tomatoes I slurped down my throat were red, like blood.
I wanted to see my mom. Hear her voice. My stomach was bulging out just like it was meant to. I was meant to be so, completely full. I was meant to absolutely burst at the seams.
My body lay on the cold, tiled floor in ecstasy, but the two sacs inside of me were filling up, desperate to be free.
Afterwards, I clutched the tomato in my hand. It looked like it could be shaped like a heart. I closed my eyes, and brought it close to my chest. Maybe my mother was here with me after all.
Jordana A. Green is a mixed race Filipino-Canadian artist and arts administrator. As part of the multidisciplinary group Sad Karaoke, she released the zine “Sad Karaoke Vol. 1,” featured in Tea Base x The Myseum of Toronto’s Quarantine Qapsule (QQ) digital archive.
Kyla Yin James (she/they) is an illustrator and designer based on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh lands (Vancouver, Canada). Their work is inspired by subcultures, sociopolitical systems, the unconscious, as well as their mixed heritage. Through their practice, Kyla explores their connection to intergenerational experiences and how they apply to the present.