Just two years after our marriage, Hubby brought up the idea of asking Mother to move from the rural hometown and spend her remaining years with us.
Hubby’s father passed away while he was still very young. Mother endured much hardship and struggled all on her own to provide for him, see him through to a university degree. You could say that she suffered a great deal and did everything you could expect of a woman to bring Hubby to where he is today. I immediately agreed and started packing the spare room, which has a balcony facing the South to let her enjoy the sunshine and plant greenery. Hubby stood in the bright room, and suddenly just picked me up and started spinning round and round. As I begged him to put me down, he said: “Let’s go fetch mother”.
Hubby is tall and big sized and I love to test on his chest and enjoy the feeling that he could pick me up at any moment put the tiny me into his pockets. Whenever we have an argument and both refuses to back down, he would pick me up and spin me over his head continuously until I surrender and beg for mercy. I became addicted to this kind of panic-joy feeling.
Mother brought along her countryside habits and lifestyle with her. For example; I am so used to buying flowers to decorate the living room, she could not stand it and would comment: “I do not know how you young people spend your money, why do you buy flowers for? You also can’t eat flowers!” I smiled and said: “Mum, with flowers in the house, our mood will also become better.” Mother continues to grumble away, and Hubby smiled: “Mum, this is a city-people’s habit; slowly you will get use to it”. Mother stopped saying anything. But every time thereafter, whenever we came home with flowers, she would ask me how much it costs. I told her and she would shake her head and express displeasure. Sometimes, when I come home with lots of shopping bags, she would ask each and every item how much they cost, I would tell her honestly and she would get even more upset about it. Hubby playfully pinched my nose and said: “You little fool, just don’t tell her the full price of everything would solve it.” There begins the friction to our otherwise happy lifestyle.
Mother hates it most when Hubby wakes up early to prepare the breakfast. In your view, how could the man of the house cook for the wife? At the breakfast table, mother’s facial expression is always like the dark clouds before a thunderstorm and I would pretend not to notice. She would use her chopsticks and make a lot of noise with it as her silent protest. As I am a dance teacher in the Children’s Palace and am exhausted from along day of dancing around, I do not wish to give up the luxury of that additional few minutes in the comfort of my bed and hence I turned a deaf ear to all the protest mother makes.
From time to time, mother would help out with some housework, but soon her help created additional work for me. For example: she would keep all kinds of plastic bags accumulating them so that she sell them later on, and resulted in our house being filled with all the trash bags; she would scrimp on dish washing detergent when helping to wash the dishes and so as not to hurt her feelings, I would quietly wash them again. One day, late at night, mother saw me quietly washing the dishes, and “Bam” she slams her bedroom door and cried very loudly in her room. Hubby was placed in a difficult position, and after that, he did not speak to me for that entire night. I pretended to be a spoilt child, tried acting cute, but he totally ignored me…. I got mad and asked him: “What did I do wrong?” Hubby stared at me and said: “Can’t you just give in to her once? We couldn’t possibly die eating from a bowl however unclean it is, right?” After that incident, for a long period of time, mother did not speak to me and you can feel that there is a very awkward feeling hanging in the house.
During that period of cold war, hubby was caught in dilemma as to who to please. In order to stop her son from having to prepare breakfast, mother took on the “all important” task of preparing breakfast without any prompting. At the breakfast table, mother would look at hubby happily eating his breakfast and cast that reprimanding stare at me for having failed to perform my duty as a wife. To avoid the embarrassing breakfast situation, I resorted to buying my own breakfast on my way to work. That night, while in bed, Hubby was a little upset and asked me: “LD, is it because you think that mum’s cooking is not clean that’s why you chose not to eat at home?” He then turned his back on me and left me alone in tears as feeling of unfairness overwhelmed me.. After some time, hubby sighed: “LD, just for me, can you have breakfast at home?” I am left with no choice but to return to the breakfast table.
The next morning, I was having porridge prepared by mother and I felt a sudden churn in my stomach and everything inside seem to be rushing up my throat. I tried to suppress the urge to throw up but I could not. I threw down the bowl, rushed into the washroom, and vomited everything out. Just as I was catching my breath, I saw mother crying and grumbling very loudly in her dialect, Hubby was standing at the washroom doorway staring at me with fire burning in his eyes… I opened my mouth but no words came out of it, I really did not mean it.
We had our very first big fight that day; mother took a look at us, then stood up and slowly made her way out of the house. Hubby gave me a final stare in the eye and followed mother down the stairs. For three days, Hubby did not return home, not even a phone call. I was so furious, since mother arrived; I had been trying my best and putting up with her, what else do you want me to do? For no reason, I keep having the feeling to throw up and I simply have not appetite for food, coupled with all the events happening at home, I was at then low point in my life. Finally, a colleague said: “LD, you look terrible; you should go and see a doctor.” The doctor confirmed that I am pregnant.
Now it became clear to me why I threw up that fateful morning, a sense of sadness floated through that otherwise happy news. Why didn’t Hubby, and mother who had been through this before, thought of the possibility of this being the reason that day? At the hospital entrance, I saw my Hubby standing there. It had only been three days, but he looked haggard. I had wanted to turn and leave, but one look at him and my heart soften, I couldn’t resist and called out to him. He followed my voice and finally found me but he pretended that he doesn’t know me; he has that disgusted look in his eyes that cut right through my heart. I told myself not to look at him anymore, and hail a cab. At that moment, I have such a strong urge inside me to shout to my hubby: “Darling, I am having your baby!” and have him lift me up and spin me around in circles of joy. What I wanted didn’t happen and as I sat in the cab, my tears started rolling down. Why? Why our love couldn’t even withstand the test of one fight?
Back home, I lay on the bed thinking about my Hubby, and the disgusted look in his eyes. I cried and wet the corner of the blanket. That night, sound of the drawers opening woke me up. I switched on the lights and I saw Hubby with tears rolling down his face. He was removing the money. I stared at him in silence; he ignored me, took the bank deposit book and some money and left the house. Maybe he really intends to leave me for good. What a rational man, so clear-cut in love and money matters. I gave a few dried laugh and tears starting streaming down again.
The next day, I did not go to work.. I wanted to clear this out and have a good talk with Hubby. I reached his office and his secretary gave me a weird look and said: “Mr. Tan’s mother had a traffic accident and is now in the hospital.” I stood there in shock. I rushed to the hospital and by the time I found hubby, mother had already passed away. Hubby did not look at me. His face was expressionless. I looked at mother’s pale white and thin face and I couldn’t control the tears in my eyes. My god, how could this happen?
Throughout the funeral, Hubby did not say a single word to me, with only the occasional disgusted stare at me. I only managed to find out brief facts about the accident from other people. That day, after mother left the house, she walked in dazed toward the bus stop, apparently intending to go back to her old house back in the countryside. As Hubby ran after her, she tried to walk faster and as she tried to cross the street, a public bus came and hit her… I finally understood how much hubby must hate me, if I had not thrown up that morning, if we had not quarreled, if…. In his heart, I am indirectly the killer of his mother.
Hubby moved into mother’s room and came home every night with a strong liquor smell on him. And me, I am buried under the guilt and self-pity and could hardly breathe. I wanted to explain to him, tell him that we are going to have our baby soon, but each time, I saw the dead look in his eyes, all the words I have at the brink of my mouth just fell back in. I had rather he hit me real hard or give me a big and thorough scolding though none of these events happening had been my fault at all.
Many days of suffocating silence went by and as the days went by, Hubby came home later and later. The deadlock between us continues, we were living together like strangers who don’t know each other. I am like the dead knot in his heart. One day, I passed by a western restaurant, looking into the glass window, I saw hubby and a girl sitting facing each other and he very lightly brushed her hair for her, I understood what it meant. After recovering from that moment of shock, I entered the restaurant, stood in front of my Hubby and stared hard at him, not a tear in my eyes. I have nothing to say to him, and there is no need to say anything. The girl looked at me, looks at Hubby, stands up and wanted to go, Hubby stretched out his hand and stopped her. He stared back at me, challenging me.. I can only hear my slow heart beat, beating, one by one as if at the brink of death. I eventually backed down, if I had stood that any longer, I will collapse together with the baby inside me. That night, he did not come home; he had chosen to use that as a way to indicate to me: Following mother’s death so did our love for each other.
He did not come home anymore after that. Sometimes, when I returned home from work, I can tell that the cupboard had been touched – he had returned to take some of his stuff.. I no longer wish to call him; the initial desire to explain everything to him vanished. I lived alone; I go for my medical checkups alone, my heart breaks again and again every time I see a guy carefully helping his wife through the physical examination. My office colleagues hinted to me to consider aborting the baby, I told them No, I will not.. I insisted on having to this baby, perhaps it is my way of repaying mother for causing her death.
One day, I came home and I saw Hubby sitting in the living room. The whole house was filled with cigarette smoke. On the coffee table, there was this piece of paper. I know what it is all about without even looking at it. In the two months plus of living alone, I have gradually learned to find peace within myself. I looked at him, removed my hat and said: “You wait a while, I will sign.” He looked at me, mixed feelings in his eyes, just like mine. As I hang up my coat, I kept repeating to myself “You cannot cry, you cannot cry…” my eyes hurt terribly, but I refused to let tears come out from there. After I hung up my coat, hubby’s eyes stared fixed at my bulging tummy. I smiled, walked over to the coffee table and pulled the paper towards me. Without even looking at what it says, I signed my name on it and pushed the paper to him. “LD, are you pregnant?” Since mother’s accident, this is the first time he spoke to me. I could not control my tears any further and they fell like raindrops. I said: “Yes, but its ok, you can leave now.” He did not go, in the dark, we sat, facing each other. Hubby slowly moved over me, his tears wet the blanket. In my heart, everything seems so far away, so far that even if I sprint, I could never reach them. I cannot remember how many times he repeated “sorry” to me. I had originally thought that I would forgive him, but now I can’t. In the western restaurant, in front of that girl, that cold look in his eyes, I will never forget, ever. We have drawn such deep scars in each other’s heart. For me, it’s unintentional; for him, totally intentional. I had been waiting for this moment of reconciliation, but I realized now, what had gone past is gone forever and could not repeated.
Other than the thought of the baby inside me that would bring some warmth to my heart, I am totally cold towards him, I no longer eat anything he buys for me, I don’t take any presents from him and I stopped talking to him. From the moment I signed on that piece of paper, marriage and love had vanished from my heart. Sometimes, hubby will try to come into the bedroom, but when he walks in, I will walk out to the living room. He had no choice but to sleep in mother’s room. At night, from his room, I can hear light sounds of groaning, I kept quiet… This used to be his trick; last time, whenever I ignore him, he would fake illness and I will surrender and find out what is wrong with him, he would then grab me and laugh. He has forgotten that last time I cared for him and am concerned because there was love, but now, what is there between us? Hubby’s groaning came on and off continuing but I continuously ignored him.
Almost everyday, he would buy something for the baby, infant products, children products and books that kids like to read. Bags and bags of it stacked inside his room till it is full. I know he is trying to use this to reach out to me, but I am no longer moved by his actions. He has no choice but to lock himself in his room and I can hear his typing away on his computer keyboard, maybe he is now addicted to web surfing but none of that matters to me anymore.
It was sometime towards the end of spring in the following year, one late night, I screamed because of a sudden stomach pain, hubby came rushing into the room, its like he did not change and sleep, and had been waiting for this moment. He carried me and ran down the stairs, stopped a car, holding my hand very tightly and kept wiping the sweat off my brow, throughout the journey to the hospital. Once we reached the hospital, he carried me and hurried into the delivery suite. Lying on the back of his skinny but warmth body, a thought crossed my mind: In my lifetime, who else would love me as much as he did? He held the delivery suite door opened and watch me go in; his warm eyes caused me to manage a smile at him despite my contraction pain. Coming out of the delivery room, Hubby looked at our son and me, eyes tear with joy and he kept smiling. I reached out and touched his hand. Hubby looked at me, smiling and then he slowly collapsed onto the floor. I cried out for him in pain… He smiled, but without opening that tired eyes of his…. I had thought that I would never shed any tear for him, but the truth is, I have never felt a deeper pain cutting through my body at that moment. Doctor said that by the time Hubby discovered he had liver cancer, it was already in terminal stage and it was a miracle that he managed to last this long. I asked the doctor when he first discovered he had cancer.
Doctor said about 5 months ago and consoled me saying: “Prepare for his funeral.”
I disregarded the nurse’s objection and rushed home, I went into his room and checked his computer, and a suffocating pain hits me. Hubby’s cancer was discovered 5 months ago, his groaning was real, and I had thought that… the computer showed over 200 thousand words he wrote for our son: “Son, just for you, I have persisted, to be able to take a look at you before I fall, is my biggest wish now…. I know that in your life, you will have many happiness and maybe some setbacks, if only I can accompany you throughout that journey, how nice would it be. But daddy now no longer has that chance. Daddy has written inside here all the possible difficulties and problems you may encounter during your lifetime, when you meet with these problems, you can refer to daddy’s suggestion … Son, after writing these 200 thousand words, I feel as if I have accompanied you through life journey. To be honest, daddy is very happy. Do love your mother, she has suffered, she is the one who loves you most and also the one who loves me most….” From play school to primary school, to secondary, university, to work and even in dealing with questions of love, everything big and small was written there.
Hubby has also written a letter for me: “My dear, to marry you is my biggest happiness, forgive me for the pain I have caused you, forgive me for not telling you my illness, because I want to see you be in a joyful mood waiting for the arrival of our baby…. My dear, if you cried, it means that you have forgiven me and I would smile, thank you for loving me… These presents, I’m afraid I cannot give them to our son personally, could you help me to give some of them to him every year, the dates on what to give when are all written on the packaging… “
Going back to the hospital, Hubby is still in coma. I brought our son over and place him beside him. I said: “Open your eyes and smile, I want our son to remember being in the warmth of your arms…” He struggled to open his eyes and managed a weak smile. Our son still in his arms was happily waving his tiny hands in the air. I press the button on the camera and the sound of the shutter rang through the air as tears slowly rolled down my face…. A fatal misunderstanding and the person who loves me the most in this world is gone forever….” Cruel misunderstandings one after another disrupted the blissful footsteps to our family. Our original intention of having Mother enjoy some quiet and peaceful moments in her remaining years with us went terribly wrong as destiny’s secret is finally revealed at a price, everything became too late.”…… …
This is a true story.
LEARNING POINT – DO NOT EVER HOLD ON TO OFFENCES!!!
I am totally speechless, this story brought tears to my eyes as I read through each line eager to know what would happen next. It truly showed the devastating power of grudges and anger! Simple humility and communication would have resolved most of the problems in that story, as well as patience….. This story has really touched my heart and life as a whole and it has stimulated a paradigm shift. Though it is very sad, it is also very refreshing to know that from today, I can consciously start to live a life free of grudge..
People please let’s live a life devoid of grudge. Communication is the key.
Take greatest care and live on. “Protocols Are Broken When God Is Involved”
References: Culled with permission from the Face book Note “Small misunderstanding, Great consequences” by Leoness Augustus.