Just two years after our marriage, my husband brought up the idea of asking his Mother to move from the rural hometown and spend her remaining years with us. His father passed away while he was still very young. His mum endured much hardship and struggled all on her own to provide for him, see him through to the university. You could say that she suffered a great deal and did everything you could expect or imagine of a woman to bring hubby to where he is today.
I immediately agreed and started preparing 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, he lifted me up and started spinning round and round. As I begged him to put me down, he said: “Lets go fetch mother”.
Hubby is tall and big sized and I love to rest my head on his chest and enjoy the feeling that he could pick me up at any moment, put me as smallish as I am into his pocket.
Whenever we have an argument and one of us refuses to back out, he would lift me up and spin me over his head continuously until I surrender as I 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. What do you buy flowers for? You also can’t eat flowers!” I will smile and say,: “Mum, with flowers in the house, our mood will also become better.” Mother will grumble away, and my husband will smile and tell her: “Mum, this is how it is in the city and with time you will get use to it”. Mother will stop murmuring. But thereafter, whenever I came home with flowers, she would ask me how much it costs. I will tell her the price and she would shake her head and express displeasure. Sometimes, when I come home with lots of shopping bags, she would demand to know the price for each and every item, I would tell her honestly and she would get even more upset about it. Hubby playfully pinched my nose one day and said: “You little fool, just don’t tell her the full price of everything and that would solve the problem.” This sparked the friction to our otherwise happy lifestyle and home.
Mother hates it most when hubby wakes up early to prepare the breakfast. In her 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 have noticed that. She would use her chopsticks or cutlery to make a lot of noise as her silent protest.
As a dance teacher in the Children’s Palace where i work, I come home exhausted from a long day of dancing around, and 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 with the aim of selling them later on, and at the end, the house is filled with all forms of trash bags; she would spill on the dishes, 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 washing the dishes, and “Bam” she slams her bedroom door and cried very loudly in her room.
Hubby was placed in a difficult position as to whose side he should be on, 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?” He 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 with me and you can feel that there is a very awkward feeling hanging in the house.
During the period of the cold war, hubby was caught in a 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 informing or discussing with any of us. At the breakfast table, mother would look at her son happily as he eats his breakfast and she’ll 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 feelings of unfairness overwhelmed me. After some time, hubby sighed: “LD, just for me, can we have breakfast together at home?” I am left with no choice but to return to the breakfast table.
The next morning, I was having porridge prepared by his 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, 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 to put 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 lost appetite for food, coupled with all the events happening at home, I was then at a 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 was pregnant. Now it became clear to me why I threw up that fateful morning, a sense of sadness flooded my soul through that otherwise happy news. Why didn’t husband, or his 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 ragged. I had wanted to turn and leave, but one look at him and my heart soften, I couldn’t resist and I called out to him. He followed my voice and finally found me but he pretended 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 as he’s fond of.
What I wanted didn’t happen and as I sat in the cab, my tears started rolling down. Why? Why couldn’t our love 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 saw at the hospital. I cried out and soaked the pillow with my tears. That night, the sound of drawers opening in our room woke me up. I switched on the lights and I saw hubby with tears rolling down his face. He was removing all the money he had kept in there. 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 started streaming down again.
The next day, I did not go to work.. I wanted to clear this out and have a good talk with him. 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 them, 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, he did not say a single word to me, with only the occasional disgusted stare he gives. I only managed to find out brief facts about the accident from other people. That day, after mother left the house, she walked away 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 knocking 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.
Back in the house he moved into mother’s room and came home every night with a strong liquor smell on him. Me, I was buried under the guilt and self-pity as a result of his mum’s death 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, he came home late and late. The deadlock between us continued, we were living together like strangers
who didn’t know each other. I am like the dead knot in his heart. One day, I passed by a western restaurant, looking through the glass, I saw him and a girl sitting facing each other and he litely brushed her hair for her, I understood what that action meant immediately. After recovering from that moment of shock, I entered the restaurant, stood in front of him and stared hard at him, not a tear in my eyes. I have nothing to say to him, and there was no need to say anything. The girl looked at me, looks at him, stood up to walk away , but my husband restrained her from doing so. He stared back at me, challenging me.. I can only hear my heart beating slowly, beat after beat as if I’m about taking my last breath. I eventually backed out, if I had stood there any longer, I would have collapsed together with the baby inside me. That night, he did not come home; he had chosen to use that as a way to sending a message to me: Following his 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 wardrobe had been touched – he had returned to take some of his belonging. 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 advised me to consider aborting the baby, I told them No, I will not.. I insisted on having the baby, perhaps it is my way of repaying his mother for causing her death. One day, I came home and I saw him sitting in the living room. The whole house was filled with cigarette smoke. On the coffee table, was lying this piece of paper. I immediately knew what it is all about without even looking at it to read it’s content. 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, with 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 out. After I hung up my coat, his eyes fixed at my bulging tummy with a stare. 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?” He spurts out. Since mother’s accident, this is the first time he speaking 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. He slowly moved over to me, his tears wet his dress. In my heart, everything seems so far away, even if I sprint, I could never reach them. I cannot remember how many times he repeatedly said “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, never ever. We have caused such deep scars in each other’s heart.
For me, it’s unintentional; for him, totally and absolutely intentional. I had been waiting for this moment of reconciliation, but I realized now, that what had gone past is gone forever and could not be undone. 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 nor take any presents from him, I also stopped talking to him. From the moment I signed on that piece of paper, marriage and love had vanished from my heart.
Sometimes, he will try to come into our bedroom, but when he walks in, I will walk out to the living room. He had no choice but to sleep in his mother’s room. At night, from his room, I can hear sounds of groaning, I kept quiet… This used to be his trick; when all was well between us, 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 was the last time I cared for him and I showed concern because there was love, but now, what is there between us? Hubby’s groaning came on and off consistently but I continuously ignored him.
Almost every day, 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 was full. I knew he was trying to use this to reach out to me, but I was no longer moved by his actions. He has no choice but to lock himself in his room and I can hear him 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, he came rushing into the room, its like he did not change from his office cloth to sleep, but had been waiting for this moment. He carried me and ran down the stairs, stopped a cab, 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 filled with tears of joy as he kept smiling. I reached out and touched his hand. He 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 heart at that moment. The doctor said by the time they discovered he had liver cancer, it was already in the 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 not to leave the ward and rushed home, I went into his room and checked his computer, and a suffocating pain hits me. His cancer was discovered 5 months ago, his groaning was real, I thought … 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’s journey.
To be honest, daddy is very happy. Do love your mum, she has suffered a lot, 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.
He has also written a letter for me: “My dear, to marry you was my biggest happiness, forgive me for the pain I have caused you, forgive me for not telling you about my illness, because I wanted to see you 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… For all these presents, I’m afraid I cannot give them to our son personally, could you please help me in giving some of them to him every year, the dates are on what to be given and when to give are all written on the packaging… “.
Going back to the hospital, my husband was still in coma. I brought our son over and placed 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 the other disrupted the blissful footsteps of our family. Our original intent of having his 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 real and true life 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.