Nestled towards the end of the book ‘Tar Baby’ by Toni Morrison is a little story about soldier ants. It’s an unforgettable story too. Anyone who has read the book will recall the story with a smile. Not a half smile, but one that comes from the depth of ones soul. A soulful smile. It’s also a masterclass story on the significance of the ‘invisible ink.’ Morrison described the ‘invisible ink’ as ‘what lies under, between, outside the lines, hidden until the right reader discovers it.’ The right reader, she noted, is the one attuned to the ‘invisible ink.’ Motherhood for all its hopes, all its triumphs, even its seductive silence in some cases and its luring survival in other cases is like an ‘invisible ink.’
Like an ‘invisible ink,’ motherhood is not for everyone, not for those who admire what it means, but for those who become emotionally or intellectually involved in what it entails. Take this morning alone, not only did I have to take care of my 3 year old who woke up in the middle of the night three times, vomiting and choking in his sleep, my 4 month old baby was crying also wanting to be breastfed. I changed my son’s clothes, changed his sheets three times in the middle of the night, all tired and with sleepy eyes. After putting him to sleep, I took care of the crying baby until he fell asleep. Then I slept. For about an hour. My baby woke up crying, wanting to be breastfeed again. Motherhood completely invades your being like an invisible ink. Many love to share the beautiful, perfect stories of motherhood and there are plenty, many of them fit for movies. But the gaps, the deliberate gaps or stories we withhold, stories hidden, stories not told, like the early morning sessions with our children, are most divine. And when told by the right mothers, produces aspects of our lives that are living and worthy of praises.
Toni Morrison summons her readers well in invisible ink with writing that is destabilizing, reorienting, forcing her readers to write her books and not merely read the texts. I am on journey to do the same. Let me close with some words from a ‘keep’ I wrote last month to illustrate this. ‘My son cries. For no reason. He cries. He also laughs too. For no reason, he laughs.’
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Toni Morrison is such an incredible writer. I enjoyed reading your piece.
She is and such a joy to keep reading the many treasures she left behind, especially with new lens.
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Oh, did she pass away? That’s too bad. Her writing was so profound.