Mom and Strawberry

Park Eun-ja from Gumi, South Korea

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In my childhood, my family was very poor. When the six members of my family lay in a single room, we had no space to turn over. My parents leased farms from others to raise their four children.

One day, I was so sick that I told my mom that I wanted to be absent from school. She told me not to be absent because there was no one to take care of me while being alone at home and forced me to go to school. When I arrived at school after walking for two hours, I was so sick that I bent over the desk. Seeing my condition, my teacher wanted me to go home. I said it would be better to have some rest in the infirmary at the thought of walking for another two hours. However, the condition got worse and I had no strength to rise even when the school was over.

At that time, unexpectedly my mom came to school, soaked in sweat. It turned out that my homeroom teacher called the landlady and she let Mom know how I was. Carried on my mom’s wet back, I came back home and lay in bed for three days. Mom must have been sorry for forcing her sick daughter to go to school; she asked me what I wanted to eat. Although it was hard for me to swallow even porridge, I said I wanted to eat strawberries.

At that time, strawberries were so expensive that they were only for the rich. What was worse, it was out of season. It must have been really difficult to find, but my mom bought me enough strawberries as soon as she heard my wish. While my sisters were out, Mom brought me strawberries, urging me to eat quickly. Seeing the appetizing strawberries, I forgot about my sickness and gobbled them up without leaving any. If I had said, “Please have some, Mom,” I would not have felt this much sorry to her.

Today, strawberries are common. Despite that, in every strawberry season my mom still buys a basketful of strawberries and hands it to me. Do you suppose what happened in the past remains as an apologetic memory to mom just as it does to me?