Some of the most reasonable people can be so heartless.
There was a wise man whose life goal was to inspire the world.
A wise man whose goal is to find peace and end suffering. Oh, but wise man fell in love. He fell in love with a wise woman. A beautiful wise woman, that was.
It was not a time of peace. Wise man married wise woman and they both ran away. They ran away from home. They thought home was not safe. They left their 4-year-old crippled son behind. He would slow them down, anyway.
Crippled son had to walk to his homeland, a considerably safe place from all the flying bullets and the creepy blood pools. Every day for a month, he walked. He walked and walked and walked. Sometimes his left leg hurt so much he had to crawl. His left leg hurt so much he couldn’t feel his hunger. He ate crickets and drank river. He walked and tripped and walked.
Wise man and wise woman were running. They were running every day. One time they came across their poet friend who desperately asked if he could come along. Poet friend had five children at the time. Of course, they couldn’t come along. Wise man abandoned his poet friend the way he abandoned his 4-year-old son.
At his homeland, crippled son could no longer walk. He would crawl and hide in the bushes to get away from the bully group. Every day for three years, crippled son crawled to the river. It was the only place where he felt like he was not completely useless. It was the only place where his left leg couldn’t fail him. He learned to swim, to really move.
There, crippled son met a generous fisherman. He gave him one fish every day. Crippled son would crawl with his four legs, raw fish between his small teeth. On a good day, he would sneak the fish home to his grandma. On a bad day, the bully group would find him. They would kick his thin little legs, call him disgraceful names, and they would take his fish away. On such a day, crippled son and his grandma went to bed hungry.
Wise man and wise woman were far away. They had to keep their identity to themselves or they would be dead. The chief would kill them for being wise. The chief would kill them for eating raw insects. They had already killed millions of people. Wise man and wise woman had to do as they said. They had to always be obedient. They had to always be starving.
That wasn’t enough. The chief fell in love with wise woman. Wise man had no choice but to die. Oh, but wise man was wise. He played with the chief’s pride. He challenged him to mill 40 sacks of rice by hand (and legs) in a day. Of course, wise man won. He won with one broken arm and one broken leg. His body went straight to hibernation for 3 days. He wasn’t about to give up on his wise woman. Not for anyone, especially not for the chief.
35 years later
Despite being a respected medical doctor, crippled son was still crippled. He didn’t want to show up to his daughter’s graduation ceremony because he was afraid she would be ashamed of him. He didn’t want everyone in the whole ballroom to see his genius daughter’s father not being able to walk the carpet. He couldn’t even clap because one of his hands had to hold the cane. He didn’t want anyone to think his beautiful daughter has a hideous dad.
Crippled son’s daughter spent most of her life in her room. Everybody thought she was studying for the next test or competing for the next award. She just spent all of her time staring at the ceiling, wondering if her father loved her if she wasn’t so “perfect”. Nobody cared she had no friends. Nobody cared she was lonely. Nobody helped her in her emotionally abusive relationship. Nobody even knew she had a boyfriend.
Well, nobody except her academic advisor. She told her to protect her “value” and to not let anyone touch her before marriage. She told her to fall out of love like it were so easy. She just warned her to stay saint, stay perfect. Crippled son’s daughter had no one. Everyone loved her for everything but her. They loved her for everything she built for them.
Crippled son’s daughter had a soul that is rotten. She did well — she had to do well. She was the top 30th among 90,000 students. She was hoping that her father would finally feel proud. She was hoping he would feel something. He did feel something. He felt ashamed. He was too ashamed of himself to come here for her.
Crippled son’s daughter confronted her mom that she needed more. She needed more love, more warmth. She needed more than makeup, clothes, shoes, money, and food. Oh, she wanted more. She grew up feeling like she needed to be perfect to deserve her parents’ attention — like she couldn’t do one wrong. Crippled son’s daughter’s mom understood her cousin but not her. She thought she was the best mom. She thought she did all there was to be done.
Wise man was so famous. Everyone knew him. Everyone came to him for advice. He did it. He inspired the world. He found peace and ended the suffering of many. With wise woman by his side, he became the most respected man in the family. He became all he wanted to be.
But wise woman fell sick. She was sick when wise man inspired the neighbors. She was sick when wise man helped the world. She was sick when wise man fell asleep. She hid it so well from the whole family. She hid it so well even wise man was not able to see it.
It was her last day. Wise man was filled with pride. Wise man smiled as his wife died. He thought that was a good demonstration that suffering is optional. He thought humans ought to be logical and accept death as one accepts life. He thought death had to be so logical we can control the amount of pain we felt in the aftermath.
Wise man counted each day until his death. Wise man died alone. He decided it was better that way. He decided it was better nobody got to see his pain.
He did talk to crippled son before he asked him to leave. Nobody knew what it was about. But hopefully, it was about how he taught his son so well he couldn’t even feel. Hopefully, it was about how he taught his son so well he couldn’t bring himself to embrace his daughter. Hopefully, it was about how he taught his son so well he couldn’t even be inspired by himself.
Hopefully, he would tell him that it would be okay to cry when your wife dies.
Wise man had a heart; he was afraid to show it. Wise man had a heart, but he faked a smile anyway. Until this date, I doubt that wise man ever told her. I doubt wise man ever said I love you.
I love you.
That’s probably why crippled son’s daughter got so good at telling everyone how she felt. That’s probably why she got so good at telling everyone she loved them. Even if she shouldn’t.
I love you.
Some of the most reasonable people can be so heartless.
© VITAK CHEAV