I have this memory. A couple of months ago I was stranded on the island of my bed, my toe propped up and swollen. The light was in its pre-dusk purity, settling gently on my walls with its clippings and pictures. The sky had soaked my bedroom, and in its center was the pearl of my mum’s hand, clutching a crayon as she wrote and decorated my birthday list while I searched my head for present ideas. Sitting at my desk, she drew my name and concentrated on colouring flowers. Red and green and purple decorated the paper. She was doing something I try to do as much as possible: to create a small alternate world inside the real one, a bubble of time when focus lets you quiet a brimming mind. Her presence calmed me; I didn’t want to speak too much to break her peace. For once I could step back and observe her—my mother is graceful, for a moment as natural as the trees outside, and that is something I usually miss in our busy lives. We were sharing that moment, but still in our separate worlds. When you co-exist with someone in silence, you let each other’s minds flow freely, but you still have company. Sometimes you get to know someone most deeply not in conversation, but in these shared silences. My toe ceased its throbbing for a while. Once Mum had finished and left my room for dinner, it was a lonely silence again.

I am already looking back at this year so far and seeing all that I have done, every test of my strength I have survived, including being bedbound with an injury. I am almost done with exams for this year, most of which I have done by myself. But I wasn’t really by myself. I had Mum. And I certainly had Dad. And I have every other person who has contributed in little or large ways to making me feel more like me.

I had to go back to my old school to sit these exams as an “external student,” and I am pretty sure I’ll have a lot to get off my chest next week. For now, I have a little more revision to do. ♦