How this man, finally, STOPPED being a DEADBEAT, it took him, LONG enough to finally change though, translated…
Once, as My Mother Was Making the Suppers, My Father Grabbed Her Head from Behind and Bashed it Against the Brick Wall Again and Again, Her Cries Had, Alarmed Us, the Six of Us Split Up into Two Groups: the Three of Us Stayed to Help Our Mother, the Other Three Ran Down the Hill in the Dark, to Get Help………
Your Mother is an Amazing Woman
My childhood home, is a place I’d dreamed of running away from often, and yet, it was, also that final place I have, of running back to as I come home late. This home that’s mixed with dependence and hatred, my father, a habitual gambler, holds the key of this ambiguity. My mother who’d worked hard, to hide every last penny she has, would always start fighting my father, who’d gambled every last cent away before suppertime. All of us, children who needed the foods, so young, the ones who cried cried on, the group of us, who rushed out to get help, all knew our places………and, those hundred-episode primetime soaps were NOTHING comparing, in the end, my father always managed, to rummage through the house, and found what my mother had, saved up, and, rushed to the gambling ring, to squander all the money we had in the house, with my mother, falling limp, complaining about her bad fate, and the six of us, young children, could only, stuff the food that tasted like grass uncooked, and, without our hearts still unsettled, fall into sleep.
This sorts of battles and wars, without any warning signs, plagued our childhoods.
My father who couldn’t manage to keep that itch for gambling controlled, is a miner who’d worked, deep underground. In my schooling career, I’d felt, very inferior, I’d always written in my father’s occupational column, “a tunnel engineer”, to cover up my own being raised in poverty, not being able to, discuss my home with my classmates. My mother was the exact opposite, never let any chance of odds and ends slip by her, and would often call on the group of us to work alongside her, whether the job being carrying the logs that the Forestry Department had hacked down downhill, or helping someone carry the bricks used for their newly built houses across the river, making the plastic flowers from home, we’d always worked alongside her. My mother even sold the vegetables we’d planted, kept the livestock, the poultry, to support ALL six of us through school. We too, become, self-reliant, watched our father who got off from working in the mines hard, to make sure, that he doesn’t take any money we’d made to gamble, and we’d never hoped, he would, help out with the household finances at all.
Even so, my mother still got beaten up often by my father who tried to get money from her. Once she was, preparing our supper in front of the large stove, he’d grabbed her head from behind, and, BASHED it into the brick walls time and time again, my mother’s shrills alarmed us, the six of us split up into two groups: one group went to help our mother, the other ran downhill in the darkness, to get help. As the villagers finally arrived, my mother’s head was already, bashed open, with blood running out. The very next day, my mother went to the river like she usually would, to clean the clothes, I’d followed that small path to find her, as she’d beaten the clothes, her tears fell into the river, drop, by drop, keeping her head lowered, said that she’d already bought the pesticides, and stashed it in the bamboo forest. Then, she’d let out a series of complaints, how her mother died young, her father trusted the words of the matchmakers, married her to my father, and life was really hard, she couldn’t see any hope at all………
I was only in the third grade, I’d felt, that she was about to do something awful, and hollered out to her, “My teacher says you’re amazing! You are, an amazing woman!” My mother lifted up her head, squinted her eyes, asked, “What does she mean?” I can only use my not-fluent-enough Taiwanese to tell her. There was that light, that overcame my mother’s face, she’d asked, “How would she know?” “I’d told her! Told her how hardworking my mother is, how she’d, raised the six of us, and that, was when my teacher said you’re, amazing! That I will need to, study harder in school!”, after my mother learned that she was, respected by a teacher whom everybody looked up to, she’d worked more swiftly, with that light on her face now, she’d, carried the basin for me to take, and, walked with me, into the sunlight, to hang the clothes.
And that bottle of pesticide was found by my second eldest brother and I, and, we’d, poured it out, and, ditched the bottle.
Thinking back as I’m older, it was, so thrilling, with just one missed step, our lives would have turned out, totally different then.
Fulfilling a Life’s Worth of Love and Connectedness
My mother found the will, to keep on living, for the six of us, and my father would always cuss her out, as she got money for our schooling and living too; “After you graduated from middle school, go find jobs! No need to get that much education!” but, for us, it’s like, we’re, fighting for our survivals, done well in school, and couldn’t wait to get to school when we wake up in the morn—the life in school was much easier and happier too. And, all our father could do, was to chase us hard, and hollered out, “You are all, debtors!”
Or maybe, it was, our being good that’s moved the heavens, my father’s backup platoon troop was scheduled at the track field of my middle school. And just so, that day, they were, awarding the Chinese competitions, and I received the first-place trophies for essay-writing and recitation, I’d, entered into the regionals, and, earned another, first-place trophy too, and because there’s a conflict for both of these events, I’d drawn the straw, that made me representative for the essay writing competition on the county level, and so, all the way, from within the school, to within the county, I was, awarded again, and again. Those who knew my father, the villagers, his coworkers, and his superior officers, they all looked toward my father, whispering. After the awards ceremonies, I’d given my father the awards: the boxes of soaps to take home first, and he’d smiled his very rare smile.
Since then, my father stopped getting angered as much, and spent more time at home too, and would cook the fishes, the meats from time to time, and handmade those fish balls for us. And because we envied how our neighbors had fruit trees, he’d had someone deliver the orange, guava saplings, for us to carry to the hill on the opposite side to plant. And, several years later, at the harvest of the guava trees, everybody came, and, my mother’s face became, fuller by the year.
Then, my eldest brother, second eldest brother, and I, arrived in the city of Taipei to go to high school. In order for us to have a place to stay, my parents bought a small apartment in Zhonghe. My father would bring the pork, the free-range chicken eggs from the mountains, so we’d have a cooked, heated up supper after school. A full pot of meat, of stewed eggs, was enough, to last us for three, to four days. And other than that, he’d given us money for tuition, for living too, I’d heard that my father changed a lot from my mother, other than around the New Year’s when he’d gone to gamble for a bit, he’d normally, not gambled at all anymore. I’m guessing that he must’ve thought, that as we are older, we would, look down on his bad behaviors.
In my second semester of last year in high school, my father died, at the explosion of the mines, and, these short seventeen years we’d shared, thankful for that box of soap, that turned our miserable lives around, and, helped me kept these final few years of better memories of him, and, our family had become, fulfilled in this lifetime too.
So, this was how this DEADBEAT father started changing, because, perhaps, he thought, that all his prior bad behaviors may have, affected his own young, and, this realization of his had made him change, and, this writer got the chance, to have a few years of good father in her life…