Leading up to International Women’s day, I would like to dedicate all the posts towards the topic of womanhood.

Cai Zhang ( www.cai.gallery)

My first and best friend is my cousin. She is three years younger than me, the happiest giggling idiot I know. I did anything to see the grin on her little face. She was mean at times. But she was my only friend for a long time.

Our shared family enviroment was turbulent, abusive and violent. To survive it was extremely hard. One day, I decided to give up on our friendship as I made the judgement that she was a lost cause.

Harsh? I guess. Necessary? Yes. Painful? Devasting and then not so much.

I guess it is a sense of betrayal. I thought I had a friend to face the common evil: the oppression of happiness, the pogom of joy and the relentless violence from our family. The day she decided I am responsible to save her from it all, I lost her.

As ever, it was words she say and tones in her voice; how she behaved towards my boyfriend; how bitterness lurked around the corners of her mouth; how she was turning into one of them.

I couldn’t forgive her. Slowly, I realise that I need to let the past go and set myself free. She only disappointed me against expectations I imposed on her. I mean, she had it tough too. I don’t blame her and I no longer blame myself for abandoning her. Memory from the past has no favourable impact on us now. Also perhaps I was one of ‘them’ too, from her point of view.

Her absence in my womanhood is a loss but not a pity. I have the gift of imagining her growing up to her ambitions. The charm in her smile will bring joy to many she meet. I can imagine the mistakes she would make and within she would rise. I just know she is such a riot at parties. She is extroverted and popular, and a hedonist at heart. She has always taught me to be resilient. I hope she finds solace and freedom somewhere away from the hell hole we grew up in. She would be able to shake it all out, more than I did. I guess I am just dreaming this up to soothe my guilt. My guilt of not wanting to know.

If she is not family, would I hold this guilt?

If I go back to a critical point would I change it?

No and No.

What is your thought on letting a family member go?

I have not let a family member go like you did, but in a way, I was let go by my family. Not completely, we are talking and are on good terms, but it is understood that I have moved abroad and will not be moving back.

I think it was more difficult for them than for me. To be honest, I was really happy to leave. I hated the country, my hometown, I was sick of the people around me and the relationship with my family, especially with my mum grew more and more tense as I found home life more and more restraining and my mother sensing this and panicking about me growing up, attempted to be even more controlling than before.

I know I made the right decision. In the past two and a half years, the relationship with my family has become a lot better, I suppose because of the distance and a certain level of detachment. At the beginning, we still used to argue with my mother every time we talked, just like when I lived at home, but it is becoming rarer and rarer. Now, we mostly just appreciate what the other has to say.

Talking about womanhood and my mother, I do not think she is happy as a woman. It did not use to be like this. She used to be progressive and ambitious, but I remember, several times, she would build up a career in some years time, only for that to come crashing down for some reason outside of her. I vaguely remember all of them, most vividly the last time, which was in 2009 or 2010. She was the head of department at an insurance company by the time the recession struck, and out of nowhere, she lost her job as they incorporated her entire department into another one, and gave the role that was the most similar to hers to a man who was a decade younger.

Recently, she even started lecturing me about *marrying well*.

Do you like being a woman?