I don’t like this lady.

That was my first impression on Rosa. Our first conversation was on the phone. She asked for her son, David (my housemate in Madrid) and I told her that he’s out.

No, he’s in.

I called him but he doesn’t answer. I think he’s out.

No. He’s my son. I know he’s in.

I’m sorry but look, maybe you can call in half an hour. I don’t see anyone in the house.

No. Please look for him. I know he’s in the house. Maybe he’s in the toilet.

[Eyes rolling heavenward] Fine.

David!

David!

David! Phone call for you!

A creak came from the bathroom door. Dios mio, this woman really know that her child is inside the house and in a specific place!

This is creepy, at least for me.

David flashed his boyish smile and took the phone and continued the pending conversation. His voice rose half an octave.

¡Joder, mamá! ¡Ya sé! ¡Soy mayor ya! [Oh fuck, Mother, I know! I’m already a grown up]

Pause.

¿Pero qué coño me estás hablando? [But what the fuck are you talking about?]

Pause.

Ya mamá. Haz lo que quieras, joder. [Fine, Mother. Do whatever the fuck that you want.]

I may not very close to my Mother but I never would use such words to her. David is such a sweet boy but I almost didn’t recognize him when he spoke to his Mother. She must have been an evil witch. Even her son swore up a storm.

David knocked my door.

My Mother’s coming this weekend.

I see.

Oh God. In my mind I made a mental note to stay out as long as possible. I don’t think I could tolerate this woman. 3 minutes on the phone is enough to break me.

But like always, I was wrong.

I was sleeping on a Sunday morning and there came a knock on my door. It was about 6 AM.

Gosh, David. You don’t have to wake me up for breakfast!

No, I’m his Mother.

My heart skipped a bit. What? No! No! This can’t be happening! But it’s too late to pretend I’m dead or deaf anyway.

I opened the door. There stood a beautiful blond woman on her 50s with a pink bathrobe holding a cup of coffee.

Morning! David told me you’re his housemate from Malaysia.

Yes, I am. Nice to meet you.

Would you care for some breakfast?

Oh dear. Help me Lord if I could skip this session I won’t swear again. Ever! I’d even be nice to my Mother-in-law.

I made you some chocolate chip cookies.

[Calculating my probabilities on choking to death and be thankful for it] Yes, of course.

So we sat and talked. Yes, we sat at the dinner table until lunch time then we continue some more until tea time. David was speechless.

This is the first time that she gets along with someone.

Wow. I must be very charming, right?

Haha! Probably.

Rosa is a simple woman. She loves with all her heart and soul. Sometimes, a bit too much. She is very proud of her little boy, her husband and her country. Yes, in that order. I got to know that her husband used to play with Deportivo La Coruña and he is the Prince Charming that she was looking for. She likes banging to heavy metal and cooking. In fact, on that same day she bought a huge octopus and cooked dinner. She wouldn’t let me go out and buy my food. She’s the Mother of everyone under this roof so nobody eats outside. Nobody do things until she says so.

David looked at me and I looked at him. We are in this together.

I thought you like her.

Shut up, David. Is this why you swore at her on the phone? Because she’s a control freak?

Do you know why she came here? 8 hours in the bus every week?

Why?

Just to iron all my clothes. She knows that I won’t send it to the Laundromat so that’s why she’s here. For fuck’s sake, just let it stretch on my body and everything will be o.k in the end, like anyone cares if I wear wrinkled clothes.

Fuck!

I know!

I’d get a Real Madrid tattoo on my butt just to crack her (she’s a fan of her husband’s ex-team)

I know!

I know David would never do anything to hurt her. Lucky her.

After about a week I told her that I’m leaving. Her face changed.

So soon?

Oh, I bought a ticket to  Edinburgh. My friends are inviting me to stay with them.

Ah, how nice.

She was silent the whole day, which is a rare thing for Rosa. She went out for the whole evening and came back before dinner. Like good children, we didn’t dare eat out. She’d kill us!

The next day I was out. I would be leaving on the last midnight train so I thought I might enjoy another conversation with a new friend or just walk around the places that I love most.

There will be next time, Madrid.

When I got home at about 12 AM Rosa was waiting for me, with a little wrapped gift.

A parting gift, she said. Open it.

It was a beautiful bracelet. Aww..You should’nt have.

I already packed your luggage. I baked an almond cake. Yes, packed it in this tupperware. Here, take 2 cans of Coke just in case you’re thirsty. I packed a mineral bottle of water too. I made a ham sandwich for supper. For snack, I bought 2 donuts with caramel, just like you like it. Put on your jacket, it might get cold. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t leave your things where you can’t see them. Don’t…(her eyes got teary) say goodbye…to me. She sobbed.

I don’t have the heart to tell her that I don’t eat pork after all she’d done. It was the best cured pork sandwich (jamon York y jamon Serrano con queso manchego) in town and she prepared it with love. I’ll deal with this one later at the airport. Somebody would be hungry while waiting, right?

Rosa, don’t cry. You’re like a Mother to me (her sobbing grew louder)

Go! Don’t let me see you!

I called David and discussed our little plan in the living room while letting Rosa sobbed her heart out in the kitchen. She was always the one with the surprises so this time I had one little trick up my sleeve before I went away.

I have a beautiful batik tucked inside my luggage and I asked David to hide it under her pillow. I think it’s the perfect gift. She means a lot to me.

Leaving Madrid is not easy. I wanted to do it quietly alone but she made David carry my luggages (with my 10 kilos worth of food) and make sure I enter the right train at the right time. I think she’s perfectly capable of making David accompany me to Edinburgh just to make sure that I’m safe.

Poor little boy.

On the street, we both screamed (because we know she can’t do anything to hurt us)

Rosa! Look under your pillow!

Why?

Just look, okay?

¡Birsilah! ¡Te cuelgo! ¡Te cuelgo! ¡Te cuelgo! (The translation would be ‘I’ll kill you’ but literally said ‘I’m hanging you!’ She said this on top of her lungs and the whole street looked at me as if I did something seriously unappropiate.)

We both shared most evil chuckle. I ran towards the Metro, kiss David goodbye and jumped on the last train on time.

Phew!

Next mission: Ham sandwich eater at the airport. Preferibly good looking ones with visible tattoos and biceps that make me drool, or I can pick an Italian and share the almond cake. I’m not choosy.

What a day!

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