THE INEVITABLE DONNING OF THE MASK

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

THE THOUGHTS PROCESS OF A 17-YEAR-OLD SOON 18 OF AN ARGUMENT WITH HER PARENTS

 

“Do you want to go out and eat? You said you wanted to watch a movie, what time?” my father uttered.

“Where?” I replied, turning towards my computer clicking on the Golden Village link, a cinema website.

“Near… road…”

“Where?”

“Around…. Place…”

“So we are going to go to … for a movie afterwards? How about 6.40pm or 8pm?”

 

Or that was how the conversation was supposed to go. Instead he snapped, saying how I would not know where that place is even if he told me and how bad my attitude was. The first thing that came over me was just pure shock. He went back to the room next door and dialled my mother and explicitly told her that he did not want to go. I wonder if he knew I could hear. I wonder if he did that because I could hear. I closed the door, closed the cinema window and closed my eyes. Lying on the bed, I questioned, half convinced that it was because he did not understand me that the conversation did not turn out as I intended.

 

And so, not sooner did my mother came home and went to my father, probably listened to his side of the story. She then entered my room and sat on my bed (which I was sitting on) and started to question me. The questions were like pricks of ice targeting at my heart. Those questions were felt like rhetorical ones, ones that needed no answers. Yet, when probed to say out the answers was like being pulled intentionally to derive at her conclusion. I wondered yet again if she was even willing to listen to my side of the story. Silence was my only ally, the only solution I had. The only retaliation was at the beginning when I was convinced that I did nothing wrong. Maybe I should not have said that. After all, perhaps a frail and crying child would receive forgiveness easier. However my pride would not allow. Standing by my own thoughts, I avoided my mother’s eyes and could not answer her questions. If I did, if I explicitly stated my opinions, it felt like I was going to break, and I could not do it without bursting out into tears. No, I could not display such a disgraceful sight.

 

Of course, this might be just useless pride and more of cowardice. Unable to express my thoughts, I sat listening to my mother’s questions. It felt more like an interrogation instead. Maybe if I had answered, things would be better. However, the thought of fighting back leading to a full blown argument was simply terrifying. Like I said, I did not have the courage to do it. So I sat, stuck, only with silence as a weapon, a form of retaliation, a last stand to not admit defeat.

 

The reason for my father’s outburst was due to my tone, or so said my mother. She said that I could speak politely to others and laugh and joke with my friends but why treat them so rudely? I had to ask for the definition of rude but was met with no answers. I guess I had always thought that parents, siblings, relatives, friends, teachers and strangers were all of different tiers and required different distance. With this thought came the foolish assumption of parents being the closest to me. Being the closest means being able to understand, being able to show my true character and self and being able to be forgiven. But those were just my wishful thinking. My mother declared that I needed respect for them, for what they have done for me. I know what they have sacrificed but of course having not experience what being a parent feels like, I could never know how they truly feel. Nonetheless, with both my parents at the opposing end, I felt betrayed, betrayed by not my parents but by my own definition of our relationship. It came to dawn on me that a family, the basic institution of life was, in the end, a hierarchical system.

 

Another weapon my mother had was their love for me. Their love, they said. It is understood that parents have unconditional love for the children just like how most mammals have. But being a creature of reason, many children are scorned by their parents and even abandoned. They met with fate of being undesired by their parents, a permanent scar ingrained in their hearts. I guess then I would be fortunate then to receive their love. My mother said that they did not mistreat me nor beat me unnecessarily, bought me my meals - basically gave me a decent life. And they love me unconditionally. A thought that came to my mind, a cruel thought which might not be true, was that it was all self-satisfaction. The self-satisfaction of being able to say yes, I had been a good parent. Of course they would not mistreat or beat me up without reason, if not it would be child abuse, an act against the law. It felt all one-sided. My mother said that she understood my thinking that I did not ask for it. That was a jolt to the heart. Not that because it hit on the nail of the child-like thinking I had in the past but the fact that she was declaring that they love me unconditionally and that I lack the knowledge of it. Their unconditional love actually came with a condition of respect. I could not treat them like any others and I have to give them my utmost respect for their utmost sacrifice. I scoffed at my thoughts.

 

Feeling alone with no ally and my mother shoving their unconditional love as parents up my throat, emotionally blackmailing me, I began to desire. I seek for a figure in my past which was the mightiest ally who I could have, my teacher. My teacher who taught me since I was young who seen me through the years growing up. I’ve been practically groomed by him instead of my dear o’ parents. They were not in my life as much leaving me in my teacher’s hands and did it with trust for my teacher. However their sudden entrance to my life after my teacher’s exit was simply uncomfortable. Their presence which I did not felt in the past was overwhelming. Due to my own assumption of the basis of our relationship, I was true to my emotions, never displaying a façade. This meant that when I was not happy, I would not smile and please them with answers. Never did I know that that was contrary to what they wanted. Cornered by the fact that I did not respect them, my mother demanded an apology. Well, not before trying to make me say that I should apologise to my father.

 

“Is it so difficult to just say one word of sorry?” now where did I hear that before? Oh right. It was in primary school where I had a fight with a close friend. We did not sit next to each other in a tuition class and everyone else in class knew that we were fighting. I did not quite remember what the fight was about but I clearly remember my friends, I think they were my friends, pushing me to apologise to her. I heard the same statement then. I did apologise to my friend, and it was not as difficult as I thought it would be once the word reluctantly escapes out of my mouth, but it felt like defeat. As I said before, it might be just my useless pride. Back to the question, yes, it is difficult, though I did not say it out. I later went to check on the definition of “sorry” on the internet and said that it was an expression of sympathy, pity or regret. An apology can also lead to the other party apologising back as well. Due to my stubbornness, I guess I would never apologise. To me, it felt like a sign of weakness, something which was not allowed. In the end, I concluded that it boiled down to my character, my personality that was the fault of the argument. And the fight with my friend? I did not remember if we made up due to the apology but it surely was not a pleasant memory.

 

Refusing to back down, I could only remained in silence, my mother continuously probing at me to admit that I was in the wrong. Yes, I was. I was wrong about our relationship. The only conclusion which I could attain was the fact that between my parents and me lines are drawn. Lines are drawn. There is a distance between us. There was no place of equal footing but just respect, something which I needed, where I needed to look up to them, adhering, never opposing. I felt constraint. With my personality of bearing too much pride, yet too little courage and the trait of a stubborn horse, I was at my wits end. If it boiled down to my character being the one that is flawed then I was required to change it. I had to change who I was. It made my current self felt so worthless, accompanied by the thought of crawling into a cave and rot to death. For the first time, I thought of cutting my wrists (not for suicide but pleasure) which I was against before and the thought of starving myself to death. Three days without water or food would simply do the trick. However, being a child I am, this might just be some strayed point of view which I conjured up all on my own. Maybe years down the road, I might look back and laugh at my current self. But for now, I click open a new window and search the net typing “respecting parents” on the search engine. The realisation I came to was the inevitability of donning of the mask. I just had to put on a mask. A mask which I wore in front of my friends, a mask which I wore in front of my relatives and a mask which I wore in front of strangers. And now, a mask I have to wear in front of my parents. I cried.

 


Submitted: October 06, 2012

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