I don’t know him. At least, not as well as I can be.
He’s quiet, reserved – but never calm. In fact, he’s scornful to his delegates. He turns boiling angry easily, especially if you don’t do what he asks you to do ASAP.
He releases his anger through a religious routine of weekly morning golf sessions. Golf is all he could think of. No matter what he must get the ball into every hole he aims.
The man is always impatient and works overtime everyday. Always trying to solve his own problems by himself; never asks for help. He has proven he could do it all alone, well, not exactly alone. He started his own company with his brother from nil. They are part of an extra-large family of fourteen, excluding their parents. They didn’t finish high school, but earned billions within less than a decade, thanks to their fierce commitment and an unstoppable spirit to achieve financial independence.
Almost a decade later, his brother set out to venture something else. His brother asked, “Do you want to join me?”
“No,” he murmured, stuck on his current project, perhaps a glitch on the company cash-flow.
Very well then, they parted ways, though still sharing a certain percentage of earnings with each other – because a family is still a family.
In the blink of an eye he grows out white hair. No, he’s now bald with little chunks of white hair, and wears glasses. He’s still making money that can feed more than a household. In fact he’s just bought a new car, a modified sports car, something I would never imagine a man his age would drive.
He’s still mad all the time. He’s still running the company he started from nil. He’s still obsessed with golf. He’s brought home dozens of gold medals for his perfect strikes and made his dresser looked presentable. He’s still quiet, leaving only the much-adorned dresser speaks for itself.
He has never been mad at me. He’s never scolded me in any way. He always forgives, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres – he never fails to smile at me, even if it’s a little one. I imagine a very bad weather in his mind, but a degree of warmth exudes whenever he’s around me. He’s quiet, of course, but whenever I ask a question or a Barbie doll, he would always answer with a “yes.”
At times it’s a “no”, especially when I’m being impulsive. Then I would get angry and demand immediate gratification “I want a car ASAP!” But a No is a No.
So I kept quiet. I started to review my initial question: “Do I really want this? Am I really asking for that? Why did I ask? What do I want now?”
I became restless. I thought of many things to put on my wish list, but I wait before I ask. After a certain amount of time thinking, I always cross out that item on the list. And the next item. And the next.
I learn to go slow and be patient with the art of running long. Every week, at least once, I run. No matter how far it is, I must know where I’m heading, what I want. I know my teacher will never show me how to get it, because I have to go it alone, but he’s still in charge of disciplining me.
Whenever I’m on the run, I am all by myself. I feel stronger with each stride. I don’t think I need assistance other than that from barrels of drinking water.
The more I see the horizon, the larger it looks. Materialistic wishes are small and short-lived; what I want is something that lasts, something big to make my teacher proud.
I consulted him, and he gave me a sad smile. “I just don’t want you to be like me – just do what you love. You don’t have to worry about money.”
Thanks to my teacher, I learned a lifetime of lessons on how to develop the unstoppable spirit it requires to achieve the things that last. I glanced at my tattered Barbie dolls. Them flashy clothes and smiling faces looked fake. I spotted a tiny scratch on his sports car. Then I turned to study the wealth of gold medals on the dresser.
The man is a mysterious figure to most. Even I will never fully understand him as a person.
However, the man is my father, and I truly appreciate his love.
I might get the chance to make minor adjustments and add more details to this piece by the end of the semester (e.g. that green Chanel bag! and all the colors to be more harmonized).
Otherwise, girls, standing up for what you believe in and disrespect are two different things. Enjoy your mom!
This is the second big assignment from my writing class this last spring. This is may be fiction, but I’m pretty sure you can tell where I got the inspiration from (if you’ve been following this blog, of course). Enjoy.
Every Sunday is a family day. We were on our way to brunch in daddy’s new Mercedes-Benz, when mommy turned her head and asked, “What would you like to eat?”
“What do we have?” said the eldest.
“Anything and everything,” said my mommy.
“That’s a lot of choices. ” My brother turned his head away from us, interested in the traffic outside the left car window.
“I don’t know. You decide. You’re the youngest.” My second elder brother on the right said to me.
If there are anything and everything out there, I’d still prefer a familiar taste.
“I don’t know. Thai?”
“Thai it is,” mommy affirmed.
So we went to a Thai restaurant, and the food was superb. Pineapple fried rice tasted exactly like nasi goreng, if you leave out the pineapples.
Occasionally, my father takes weekends off. He can have that because he’s the owner of our family’s import/export business, specializing in auto spare parts. That’s how he affords a Mercedes-Benz and weekly getaways to five-star hotels, like the one we’re having now.
We got a top-floor, double-bed suite. Our deck manifests the long stretch of white sands and azure waters us Balinese are proud of. It’s like a whole new world.
Back then, mom and dad slept on the same bed, and I would have my eldest brother on my left and my second brother on my right. We would get through the night in the comfort of what felt like home. Home is wherever we are, as long as we stick together.
“Daddy will sleep on the couch. You stick with momma.” My mother chirped while unpacking her toiletries.
Daddy’s practically attached to his phone all day, and my brothers were stuck in front of the TV. “Sauna?” My mother takes my hand before I said anything.
My mind wandered to places in the mist. Warm bubbles massaging my body, the loud burbles deafening my hearing. I rest my head on the edge of the tub. Everything I see starts to blur.
I don’t see mom and dad talking to each other much anymore. Maybe dad’s busy, or maybe mom’s having her period. All she talks about to me these days is period, period, period. How long is a period, again?
I got up from the tub. My mom wanted to stay there a bit. Just before I took the first step off the wet floor, I slipped, hitting myself on the head. I heard the loudest thud ringing in my ears for a moment, and everything went white. Why would they choose a glass tile for a sauna room?
I opened my eyes. My vision became clearer.
Mom was panicking. She immediately called dad, and then everything fell into place after that. “No it doesn’t hurt, mom, And dad, I’m fine,” I said.
Finally. They communicate as a happy couple would do.
Both of them were caressing me as they discuss only the terrible things in the future, like finding a doctor in Jakarta and selling the Mercedes-Benz, if ever I should slip again.
Sundays are now nights out with my mother alone. We never have weekly brunches or getaways anymore. My brothers are overseas to further their education. They each have their own lives. We get in touch through the occasional text messages, like “How are you?” and “When will you come back?” My phone’s ringing silence is the usual reply.
“Do you think it will ever be OK if mom and dad separated?” Mommy asked while we’re on our way home from dinner. She was driving the Mercedes-Benz, the old one my dad gave her as now we have two flashier cars in the garage.
I’ve gotten used to hearing mommy and daddy’s screaming voices through my wall. Over the years, the wall grew silent. Whenever I go into the master bedroom to choose a midnight snack (they have anything and everything in their fridge – I don’t have to go to the kitchen downstairs), I would watch them sleep on that same bed they’ve had for years, each head facing opposite directions.
One night, I went back into my room and decided to make my night productive.
I tore the five heads on the family photograph into separate pieces. I tore many other jagged scraps of blank papers. Then I threw them away, but the five heads stay.
I pasted the these heads together using a double-sided scotch tape at the back to hold them all into one piece. Then I used superglue to attach this piece onto an empty drawing board, a huge artboard for me to draw anything and everything I want.
And that’s how I became an artist.