My math skills, as I have said before, have never been great. If I could restrict the math I need to the amount of fingers I have, I'd be delighted.
I have a feeling this is why I gravitate towards men who can do complex math formulas in their heads. Towards men with amazing spreadsheet skills. Sadly, I'm not even kidding.
When I was very young, Betty would work with me on numbers. She had put these pretty ceramic beads - I remember long, rectangular yellow ones in particular - on strings for counting.
So at some point the biggest number I knew was five. Five was immense - as big as anything I could imagine.
Five was the biggest thing in the known universe. My universe. Which mostly consisted of our lovely house, at that time in Bangladesh, with the big, walled-in garden. The walls had jagged green and brown glass shards on the tops, which contrasted starkly with the beauty of Betty's garden, filled with flowers and edged with guava and lychee and jackfruit trees.
I would tell my mom I loved her.
And she'd say, "How much do you love me, sweetheart?"
"I love you this much."
I would stretch out my arms, as wide as I could reach.
I'd add, "Five! I love you FIVE!"
Even now, five, for my mom and me, is the most love possible to express in words.
"I love you."
"I love you more!"
"I love you too much."
"I love you FIVE."
Five trumps all. It's nice to play a game where all you are competing for is loving someone the most.
I loved her five then, and I still do.
Happy Mother's Day, mama.