When I was a kid, the image of Mother Mary was everywhere. There were the statues of Mary, the amulets and chaplets bearing the image of the Mother of Jesus, right down to the calendars of the Virgin Madonna. No shred of blaspheming or shard of atheism was to be taken at home, where prayers were in earnest and religious rituals were observed with the piety of living saints. Whatever CDs and MP3s I had of Mercyful Fate or Marilyn Manson had to be played with earphones or the lowest possible volume on my radio.
Somehow I couldn’t escape the sight of Mama Mary, even though the “watchful eyes” I was taught to fear and revere were inanimate prints on a picture, or carefully-made relief on a sculpture. Every eighth day of September, the statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception was brought from the Church to our house, where the pious neighbors murmured the Mysteries of the Rosary over the watchful yet reverent gaze of my grandmother.
It was that gaze: the feeling of being watched.