Searching (till I come up with a better title for this piece)

Searching (till I come up with a better title for this piece)

The two bowls of beehoon soup lay quietly on the dining table. Mother bustled in and out of the kitchen, yelling for Father as she went along, washing and keeping the cooking utensils. I switched on the lights, which lit up the dull grey kitchen into something brighter, something which I preferred as I approached the dining table with my current favourite book.

I had been snuggling in bed under my beloved blanket with Marcus Didius Falco since Friday night, through the entire Saturday and into Sunday morning. Mother seldom questioned my promiscuity with my men, especially not since I was obsessed with Harry Potter, my former lover of ten years. But this time round she questioned my isolation, though in a cautious tone. The last time I had isolated myself was because of a breakup and her questioning resulted in a waterfall of very salty tears.

I no longer fantasized myself with the heroes of my favorite novels, especially not Marcus Didius Falco. Although he lived in ancient Rome where togas were in fashion and was a private informer, his sense of adventure was too much for me to bear. Not to mention he was thirty years old. And of course, I have my own lover now whom I text day and night, in between my rendezvous with Didius Falco. Truth was, I had an upset tummy and hence refused to get out of bed and set my tyranny on anybody in the family. It was a bad habit of mine and none of my loved ones deserved that.

Mother pursed her lips at the sight of Didius Falco. I sat on my chair and cautiously opened my book, daring myself to read as many pages as it takes for her to blow her top. She hated that I brought something else to the dining table. But she hated more if I brought my food elsewhere. Before I could turn the page however, Father stepped into the kitchen at that very moment and took the seat opposite me. Out of politeness, I closed my book and placed it aside.

Both Father and I ate in silence as Mother excused herself from the kitchen to take her shower. Usually, Father talked about politics at the dining table, regardless what the topic was. Just a week ago, I had asked Father about paying off my university tuition fees which I had loaned from the bank. He had brushed it off.

“Don’t worry about it lah. Your mummy will think of something one. You know the government…”

I would not go into details of what he said. Firstly, to protect him. Secondly, I had switched off at that very moment that word was uttered. There was nothing I could fill you in.

This time he was quiet. I looked at him whenever I brought the beehoon up to my lips with my chopsticks. He looked old. His hair was black, but I knew Mother had helped him dye them black just two days ago. Father and I barely see each other even though both of us were at home most of the time. He preferred to keep himself in his room while I preferred to either do my work in my study room or snuggling in my bedroom with my fictional heroes. We only came face to face with each other at the dining table and the fact that we did not speak was a little sad. I was convinced this feeling would become exponentially stronger as the years passed and as him and Mother grow older.

I was just months from graduation. I had my future paved out and did not need to worry about earning a living for myself and taking care of them. I was signed on with the government to become a teacher. But looking at my father, what I worried about was communicating with him. Mother and I could talk. We often gossiped about my boyfriend, my clothes, my school stuff and my best friend. But Father showed no interest in them. He was only interested about political news or about making big bucks, which was not going to happen.

He just passed sixty in his last birthday. How many more birthdays do I get to think about what were the common topics we could talk about? Sometimes I pretended to understand what he was saying, nodding patronizingly at his words. Nothing made sense to me and worse still, none of my reactions were sincere. Sometimes, I Googled for political news to keep up with him. But it only made things worse because I knew what he was going to say and I frankly don’t give a damn about them.

He looked over at the fishballs swimming in my soup. I usually saved what I loved to eat last. He tipped one more into my bowl and brought his bowl to the sink. I thanked him, which yielded no response. I wasn’t sure if he could not hear properly anymore or his mind was just preoccupied, worrying about my tuition loans as I was. He rinsed his mouth and left.

As he stepped out of the kitchen I brought out Didius Falco again. He was bright and he was a filial son. He talked to his mother whenever they met and even his impatience with her was done out of love. Possibly, he could give me some advice. I returned to it only to discover that he was making love in a horse stable. Next time, Didius Falco. I closed the book, finished the fishballs and washed the dishes. When my parents were getting ready to leave I walked them to the door. Mother was frantic, as usual, while Father kept his stern face. I walked back to my computer and put my fingers to the keyboard.

Maybe, I could give politics another chance.

 

Searching (till I come up with a better title for this piece) © 2013 by Auby Sparksfield. All rights reserved.

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