Tuesday, December 20, 2005

NO! And I don't mean maybe, baby!

It's gotten so bad he can't sleep at night. It's not because of the divorce. Frankly that was a relief. She had stopped loving him a long time ago and you can only take so much abuse. It's something deeper than that, a profound disquiet in his soul. He reaches into the darkness for something to hold on to. His fingers close on nothing. Somewhere deep inside, he's weeping. He spreads himself out trying to cover this silence. But he's spread himself too thin. There is nothing left, nothing.

Echoes and emptiness.

Of course, in the beginning they stayed together because there were the kids to consider, but even the kids are better off this way. Oftentimes at night, they cowered in bed while she unleashed her fury:

"Ten years, I suffered, ten years, and all you care about is your fucking family? When they walk all over you, they walk all over me too. Who comes first Ranny, who? Us or them? Answer me! Us or them? I FUCKING HATE YOU, BLOODY SPINELESS WIMP!"

And he would end up on the sofa. Exhausted. Too many nights, too many fights.

And now the divorce is through. The kids with him while she has visiting rights. He works longer and longer hours trying to make ends meet. The kids are acting out of course. The boy hangs about with bad company and has recently started to smoke. The girl runs up thousand dollar phone bills. She says: "Daddy, I want... Daddy buy me ..." He hears: "If you don't, I wont love you anymore." And so many people have stopped loving him.

All he ever wanted was to make everyone happy. His parents, his brother and sister, his wife, his children. He said yes. And when he said no, he meant yes.

But something happened. Mother died. He paid for the funeral. Older brother said: "Sorry bro, wish I could help but business going badly." Older sister threw a tantrum and fought with his wife.

His wife had had enough: "This is our money you're forking out. Ours. Not just yours. Call them and demand they pay their share." He couldn't bring himself to. Anger calcified into contempt. Soon there was a lurking fire in her eyes.

Father had to be put in a home. Again he forked out. His wife said: "Call those bastards! He's their father too, and they can bloody afford it while we can't." She was right. With two kids and average jobs, they really couldn't.

But brother said: "Things haven't been going well with my business since 911, I'll try to see if I can send some money next month. Or the next. Or the next." Sister said: "I'll lend you some to tide you over, but I must know, when can you pay me back?"

A young man, getting greyer. His wife threatened for seven years to walk out. Held it over him like a sword of Damocles while she systematically destroyed him. Then she cut the thread.

Now he shuffles, bent over double, a soul-deep weariness in his eyes, the weight of the world on his shoulders. He loves them all. He loves them all. He really does. If only someone could understand.

We watch this shattered man place one weary foot in front of the other, on his lonely march to the grave.

And we wonder: will he ever learn the magic word?

6 comments:

Andy said...

Good post. And you're right. I know we've touched on the topic of "obligation"--big for us Asians, no?--but obligations make us old before our time, especially men, I think.

goldennib said...

So sad. It's so hard to say NO and then when you have nothing but selfish, self centered assholes around you, it's a death sentence.

m said...

ahh, this is a story I know well. Happens in so many families.

Jenn said...

Andy: Are we really obliged? Or do we think we have to kill ourselves so they will still love us?

Goldennib: Selfish, self-centered assholes is right. But sometimes I think we encourage such behaviour by not doing anything about it.

M: Sad but true. It does.

Berlinbound said...

Perfectly put ... so terribly true ... it hurts to read it.

Well done.

Jenn said...

Thanks Berlinbound. It hurt to write it too.