Four daughters lose and find their mothers, engage and disengage with them, learn and unlearn who these women are and who they were before they came along. These daughters, intentionally and unintentionally, look for meaning and identity in the women who gave them birth; because whether we like or barely tolerate them, whether we love or reject them entirely, whether they put us together fragment by careful fragment, or whether they undo us with the tug of an errant string, who they were tells us everything about who we will become.
And so we keep prying underneath that mystery, hoping that it will make our own puzzles click into place, eventually.
Act 1: "Embracing the Subjective," by Susanna Barlow and read by Lannie Stabile. Published in The Nasiona, 29 September 2018.
Susanna Barlow does what is most difficult for writers: namely, she lets go of the certainty of truth. By recounting her complicated childhood and fundamentalist upbringing (along with the deception it necessitated), she nonetheless manages to ground herself in another form of authenticity.
Act 2: "Swallow," written and read by Emma Faesi Hudelson. Published in The Nasiona, 29 December 2018.
Emma Faesi Hudelson takes us to a seminal day in her life: an afternoon of teenage drunkenness collapses into chaos, and her mother’s ensuing attitude to it changes the dynamic of their bond. This account is a haunting glimpse into the boundaries we test with our mothers and, conversely, into what our mothers inadvertently let us get away with. The consequences of their reaction—or lack thereof—often determine the way we bring them into the fold of our trauma going forward. It also paves the way for how we appraise the mistakes we made, the ones currently unfurling, and the ones to come.
Act 3: "Finding Jean Palmer," by Hannah Huff and read by Anuja Ghimire. Published in The Nasiona, 7 February 2019.
Generations of mothers and daughters collide in this next piece, when Hannah Huff and her mother undertake a journey to find the grave of the former’s great-grandmother, on her grandmother’s birthday. The quest reveals itself to be somewhat baffling, testing the women’s bond and their faith in one another.
Act 4: "My Mother's Suitcases," by Jacqueline Doyle and read by Aïcha Martine Thiam. Published in The Nasiona, 10 February 2019.
Jacqueline Doyle juggles feelings of remorse and acrimony for her mother, during a strained phone conversation with her. This piece is an incisive examination of the ways mothers and daughters often engage in exchanges fraught with tension, exchanges that sometimes take on a more bittersweet connotation, with the benefit of retrospection and indulgence.
Produced by Julián Esteban Torres López and Aïcha Martine Thiam.