Memoir of all those times I Kidnapped My Mom

WRITTEN BY ZOHA ARIF

At least when you kidnap your mom, you have a mom. Some people stake wooden crosses, crucifixes, in their lawns and praise the Lord of the Worlds for giving them a mom but the thing is that my mom thinks that I’m not her daughter. I was pulled to the bottom of a bathtub full of lighters and matches the first time I understood this. I knew that I was not the most unfortunate person on earth so I tried to burn my flesh in smoke; I wanted to know what it’s like to drown without the sin of suicide to prove to God that I appreciate the life he gave me. I crawled out of the bathtub with a lung dried in soot, face that hung like taffy, curled into ribbons and knots, and a body with hair burnt down like the end of a bomb just a few centimeters from the scalp, bleeding and blackened. I forgot to close the bathroom door that day. Some people feel the need to rob banks when something awful happens to them, but I don’t want to be a juvenile detention prisoner for thirteen years so I became a ninja that specializes in kidnapping instead.


My friends looked at me in such a pitious way, and I hated them for being there. This was a thing that I kept tilted on a chain in a basement chamber, not spilling from the pores of my skin for towels to soak. A friend was almost hit by a flying teapot from the kitchen and said what's with your mom and the beer? and I told them to stop being so emotional over an acid out of containment. Just shut the door and you won’t be hit by a flying saucer.


For your sake, I won’t get too graphic, so I’ll paint you a mild picture. I took my zebra plush one morning and hid in the closet, behind the party wear, to blind it from the violence. Then I went to fulfil the kidnapping. I stepped on an open beer can on my way to the victim’s location and the pop-top numbed my foot but I kept going. My mom was hung over the sink like a hook, watering the facet with vomit. I snuck behind her and powered a front snap punch and locked the bathroom door behind me. I kidnapped her for a total of 15 minutes. She rolled out of the bathroom and ripped the row of gymnastic medals from the wall. Then another day, when she was crawling about the living room, mouth foaming, tongue snapping about how Burger King and McDonald’s don’t pay for her ecstasy and cigarettes, I shut her in the living room and kidnapped her for a total of 30 minutes. The longest time I kidnapped her was when she smashed my piggy bank and ran away to sell its intestines. I kidnapped her for a total of 6 hours, when she fell asleep on the dining room table.


Today is my birthday and my cake is a pot of spicy ramen noodles. I had kidnapped my mom in the living room again but she cartwheeled with a succession of roundhouse kicks and tore down the door. I was in the middle of taking a cup of ramen noodles out from the microwave, and she startled me so much that the boiling noodles slipped and fell on top of her head. I ran and shut the door to the kitchen and kidnapped her for 2 hours. That time I kidnapped her, mama cried really hard and I just sat in the bathtub with the bathroom door shut.

Zoha Arif will graduate from the Academy for Information Technology in the spring of 2021. As someone with persistently shifting interests, she's not sure if she will ever develop a particular literary style but is excited to continue to indulge in literary experimentation and hybrid art. Her quarantine works have been on the beat of South Asian and Middle Eastern cultural history as she has spent the past frail, wobbly year rediscovering her family and thinking about why culture matters, if it really matters. She melts away her free time breathing peanut butter, eating autobiographies of sailors, drowning in questionable food science experiments, chasing squirrels, and learning how to sew. Her work has been published in Polyphony Lit, the Blue Marble Review, Oddball Magazine, Up North Lit, and others.