I still talk to your mother sometimes, even though she isn’t here anymore. I have a long conversation with her and watch the way she moves her head to the side and rolls her eyes when I say something she wants to dismiss—finds foolish, pushes her boundary. She has always been that way, ever since I first met her so long ago—after I left school, in Oxford. One time I annoyed her and she dug her fingernail into my middle finger so it drew blood. I knew it was a challenge, so I never flinched and remained impassive until the blood came. Then I gave her a present because I had outraged her in public the day before and she had run off crying.
That was the day we almost kissed, on the bus into London—we did internships that summer, I was at a tabloid newspaper and she was at some do-good charity. My face hovered over hers for a while, we almost made contact on the lips—and then I made a comment and we broke apart. Years later, I read Jung and learned why. I know you always tease me, “Jung this, Jung that—with dad it’s always Jung!”. Yes, I know, Anushka—but he’s very good! It’s thanks to Jung that I’ll not end up like Charles—he divorced his wife and married a woman with the same middle name and birthday. He married her again! However many times they divorce, they just marry the same one—you may learn that, eventually.
Yes, I took her to see The Hours—a film about Virginia Woolf where Meryl Streep has the most enormous rubber nose you ever saw! We were very serious earnest young intellectuals your mother and I—oh yes! But still, I kept talking about the nose…I couldn’t help it. And it was then, when the argument broke, we first kissed…or we would have, Anushka—if you existed, and if she had been my first kiss.