Part IV-3 – Windmills of Ferocious Giants!
It was the end of 2010, only the second month into this long dreadful winter. Winter was like a whining middle-aged woman who had just started her grouch in the early evening! No matter how long winter lasts, spring will eventually replace it and wash the street salt away with fresh rain, and yet it is normal that some could not see Nature in all of its mighty transformative power.
Ou Yang had obviously not noticed that she had slowly changed. She had always been an assertive, principled woman. If you were on her side, she would protect you as she protects herself. If you had done her a favor, she would return it in such a hurry that you would wonder if she had accepted the favor just in order to return it! But if you did not do what she asked for, then you risked becoming a bad person in her eyes.
Now she was losing her confidence bit by bit, and she became quite confused about her life and her husband. The fact that they were settled down with a son and a nice cottage didn’t seem enough anymore. Something was lacking. Something very important…something even more serious than just not having sex!
She would invite herself over to her friend’s house for lunch, only to grumble over the whole meal:
“Oh, I am really fed up with him. He has been passive like that the whole time!”
“Look what kind of family he comes from! Hopeless!” And then she would recount the complete version of the fight they had over the previous weekend.
They lived in Quebec where they had to find a way to survive almost five months of winter, and Sonny also wanted to go skiing like many of his classmates. It seemed like a lot of fun! Ou Yang would have done anything for her son, not mention that this was a good and healthy sport. Ge Wen only agreed to accompany them, reckoned that he was too old to learn, but at the urge and persuasion of Ou Yang that their son needed his dad to be with him, he reluctantly agreed to try.
Sonny was a pro on the beginner’s slope; he was very excited but did not even fall once. It seemed that he was a born talent at keeping his balance on his skis! But his father was just awkward, clumsy, and miserable. He fell, struggled to get up, and fell again. The time he spent on his feet was clearly much less than the time spent on his buttocks. Eventually he gave up, despite the help of their friends, one of whom was a professional ski coach and another a great assistant.
“No, don’t give up! Not just yet!” Ou Yang yelled at him.
At the same time, there was never the slightest indication of losing hope or a glimpse of frustration from Ou Yang. She hung on, she fell, but stood up and went on!
Ge Wen stopped after 30 minutes and decided that it was not his thing.
“No! It is not my thing neither! But we have to learn to be with Sonny. And it is good for us to pass the long winter this way as well.” Neither reason moved Ge Wen even a single step further.
As time passed and there was no improvement of their situation, Ou Yang began to lose her discretion. Her comments started to become more open, direct, and scornful and her judgments became harsher and more bitter. She would blame everything on Ge Wen and her scolding would often be extended to his family. Ge Wen’s family was what had made him such a loser! She had tried to keep her son from hearing her comments and insults at the beginning, but gradually she just could not care that much anymore.
Ou Yang had a somewhat rough, loud voice and a special way of speaking that would show her keen attitude on subjects very well. Her voice would get rougher and louder when she vented about her unhappy feelings and concerns. This special way of speaking showed exactly how strongly she believed that all of her unhappiness came from anyone else but herself. The louder she raised her voice, the more she reckoned that she was the only one who suffered. Her sad tone made her seem the only real victim in this misery-free world. The repetition of her stories was persuading her friends and herself that she was free of any unfortunate wrong doing.
The moment she started thinking about divorce, she could have cared less of what she was saying about her husband. In fact, she was subconsciously making her husband the cause of the divorce in front of her friends, as many instinctively do to protect themselves. Well, it was his fault! She never missed a chance to make herself a victim to arouse sympathy or support. When the custody issue came into her mind, her subconscious had become a clear conscience. She had to make it clear to her son and families the reasons of her leaving his dad if it ever happened.
It was not her fault; it was absolutely the dad’s! Somewhere in her whimpering, it came to light that Ge Wen had done something during his first six months in Montreal, before Ou Yang’s arrival. He had had an affaire with a Chinese girl, something like a one-night stand. That adulterous moment eventually became the centre of her blame, and a true problem overall. It was something that used to be a much more serious crime, under penalty of death in Mao’s time, but which has become such a cliché in modern life.
Many people are always keen on finding out why people divorce. There needs to be a good reason, a reason that other people can understand and agree on. Ou Yang had them all ready for both families in China to approve: Ge Wen’s passiveness, and the worst of all, that one-night-stand! It was never clear if it really happened, knowing Ge Wen’s personality and loyalty to Ou Yang in the first years of their marriage, or if it was just an invention of Ou Yang’s to make her look righteous in front of her friends and to have a real reason for divorce to hand over to the two families.
Don Quixote’s battle was with the windmills as ferocious giants, while Ou Yang’s was an invisible one-sided battle with herself and with the part of her from where she came from. The weapon of choice of the thin-limbed fragile Don Quixote was a rather imaginative sword, while Ou Yang’s weapons were words, limited and blunt to the senses but real and piercingly sharper than the sword. Her words became malicious and deadly poisonous, not only to Ge Wen and her friends, but also to Ou Yang herself. They depicted not only her husband, but her whole family collectively as wimps, made her friends afraid of seeing her, and made her winter days shorter, with long, dark nights.
Gradually, the battle reached the next level. She couldn’t stop worrying about her son. She was not sure if he would survive the divorce. What she never realized was that a child can worry much less than an adult!
“Your dad does not love Mommy any more! But Mommy will be ok if Sonny is ok. Sonny will love mommy forever… Right?”
Of course, her son would usually nod.
Sometimes she could be very proud of her son in front of her friends:
“Oh, My son is just so sweet. I was feeling down the other night and I was crying, and then he came to me and said: Mommy, don’t cry! I love you! I Daddy does not love you any more, I will love you! I will be your husband!”
A six year old boy who would also tell her that he would grow up faster and help Mommy by making more money.
Children are not adults, but we sometimes mistakenly regard and treat them as if they were. At his young age, Sonny naturally had barely the notion of right and wrong, but now he was taught whom to blame; even though he was a positive, upbeat kid, he was led into a world full of mother-induced fears and worries. A child is a blank piece of paper, reflecting whatever is painted upon it. What is borne into him will become the base for his future and part of his life forever.
Nevertheless, it must be said that Ou Yang had always been a smart one. She did listen to some advice not to talk badly about the father in front of her kid, but it was impossible for her to evade her conscious worries and fears when speaking with Sonny. She had no idea of the divorcing procedure and custody issues, she could not see with whom she might end up in her future, and neither could she know how her son would handle it all. She felt very afraid in this world now, a cold world far away from her mother and sisters. She had no one else but her son to lean on, just like Don Quixote only had Sancho Panza.
Ou Yang was in the dark. She did not know what to think any more, or what other irreconcilable differences could be found to justify her reason for wanting to seek a divorce. She was like a blindfolded person probing in a place where the air was thinning out and the light was going dim. She tried everything: being nice, being cold, being indifferent, being malicious, threatening, talking to friends, talking to her son, but nothing worked. Absolutely nothing had worked the way she had hoped, and no one seemed to have helped at all the way she wanted…
She was waiting for Elizabeth to come, her missionary, her salvation and last hope.
On one cold and sunny day, when Ou Yang was busy in the office dealing with purchasing orders, an e-mail appeared in her mail box. It was from Elizabeth! She bent over her desk and quickly opened it. She sat, stunned, with her pencil in her mouth: “Sweet Ou Yang, I am very, very sorry that I cannot come to Montreal this time…”
“What?” She sank into her chair… “She is not coming… not coming…”
Ou Yang remained motionless for a while, her eyes staring out into the sky, already dark at 4pm. For a moment, she felt the absolute silence and herself as if she did not exist. When she awoke, she turned her head back down to her desk, only to find the neat orders full of smeared and blurred letters. She silently went out into the corridor, where she bent over the water fountain…
To Be Continued…