Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas Story

"Christmas, Christmas ever so overestimated annual event! " my mum screamed in the early morning. Her cry got us all get out of bed immediately and rushed into the kitchen.

In the kitchen, we all found Mum in her PJ, sitting on the floor, covered with white powder.

"Ah, are you ok?" Dad was the first one to dare to start a conversation.

"What do you think?" was her response. "Hah? Don't you see how upset I am? You have no idea why I am so upset, don't you? Hah? No idea at all!"

It wasn't exactly a promising comment for a nice and cozy family breakfast to take place. I was determined to contribute my idea to lighten up the heavy air and said,

"Can I have breakfast? I am hungry."

It was one of the worst lines I have ever uttered in my life.

"You just don't care, do you? I'm just a cook or a servant to you all, am't I? No interests for how I feel or what I do! You just don't give a thought about my well-being, my feelings, my life!!! I am just like a pot in the kitchen providing food, fulfilling your empty stomach. Or, or, or just a hoover cleaning the mess you make. I am not even visible to ya, am't I? You don't look at me. You don't notice any changes in me at all. You don't appreciate my presence at all. Why do I bother to cook, clean and organize the bloody Christmas party for people who don't respect and care my being?"

She was absolutely in a chaotic state of mind. She screamed lines and lines of hurting words like sharp knives in the core of your heart as she smashed dishes and glasses on the floor. It was more frightening than most of horror movies I've even seen. Dad and I stood helplessly beside Mum, wishing desperately her emotional tempest would eventually go away.


"Don't you Honey me now, you heartless bugger. What have you done for me lately? You just come home exhausted and sit on the couch sipping beer, doing nothing at all. What comes out from the mouth is either the depressing sigh or 'Oh, dear.'  You go out on your own with your mates and have fun outside. I always sit on the bloody kitchen chair alone, asking what happen to my happy days with laughters and full of music and friends to share the joy of being. "


"You just don't listen to me, don't you? You don't care what I think, do you? Do you???"

"em...May I say something?"

"I am asking, am't I?"

"Right. Excuse my stupidity but I do care about you, my dear."

"No, you don't."

"Well, I am not here to argue with you on the matter. But I do know how I feel and I do care about you. I truly do."

"Then why don't you help me out for the house work?"

"I do when I can. But why do we argue on who do washings or not in such an early morning on Christmas Eve? Why did you start making cake in the morning?"

"Just because I invited some friends over the Christmas dinner and wanted to make it so special!"

"Did you ask us to help you out?"

"No. But you should volunteer for helping!"

"Well, I am sorry but I had no idea what's in your mind. Ok. What can I do to help you? Our daughter will help you too. Don't you, dear?"

My goodness! I thought to myself. I didn't know how tactful Dad can be with Mum. It must be a secret of long and lasting married couple with a stepchild. He is not my biological father but I wanted him to be at the moment. He was doing a terrific job to calm Mum down like a pro magician with his words. I was well-impressed with his skill and nodded so deeply with full approval with his suggestion.

"Well, I suppose we can start from doing something with the mess around here, can't we?"

Mum did not respond to that and sat down on a chair covered with flour.

"Well, you must be exhausted, dear. Please take a rest. We'll make you some tea and take care of this mess." said Dad and put the kettle on the stove.

I didn't dare to comment anything but gave the approved nod and joined his healing mission.

After all the mess was wiped and the fury was subsided, we all sat on the chairs at the kitchen table silently as we sipped the strong tea with plenty of milk together.

Dad mumbled, "Oh dear." and then covered his face in shame, apologizing, "Sorry. I did it again. Oh, dear..."

He looked up the ceiling in vain : I started giggling. Mum also started giggling. The hysterical giggle stayed for a while with us, sweeping the heavy air away.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Have a little more faith in yourself!

"Have a little more faith in yourself!" is the word I was given repeatedly by one of my best mates / mentors.
He probably has no memory of what he said because it always happened when he was extremely drunk. It was alway just before he lost his conscious due to the massive amount of alcohol, he looked into my eyes and said his line. He said that so many times that this line was engraved onto my mind and grows every single day even now. This memory comes back to me so vividly because of the party I had last night with bunch of lovely people.

After finishing to revise my paper on self-esteem, I cooked some food for the little christmas party. It was also a debut gig for Momo (my daughter). She was so reluctant to go with me, telling me how tired she felt and how boring it could be. But somehow my heart told me not to get her away from this opportunity to meet and mingle with unique, creative and inspiring individuals. So, I gave her the smile that said, "I won't take no for an answer". By now, she knows the awful consequences if she objects to the smile. So, she came along, dragging the heavy guitar and the heart.

She was in a devastating state of mind due to the terrible test score she got at school in spite of her tremendous effort. The worst news for her was that it was the English test. She got 58 in 60 in speaking test and full mark in listening but when it came to translation from Japanese to English, she got into one of the worst three in the 8th graders. She just couldn't memorize all the meaningless lines no matter how much she tried. It was heartbreaking time to see her struggle so much and lost all her self-esteem for such a tiny little matter like an English test at a Japanese school. But don't you remember the school life and test scores meant the whole world for you when you were 14? Perhaps it meant more in Japan for more students become more obedient to social rules in general. Momo is not an exception. She takes a measure, the school grades way too seriously and thinks she is a total loser. The school grades are one of the most influential measures for "success" but it is NOT a tool to measure your value as a human. I can't repeat this enough and I want her English teacher repeat this as well instead of killing all her enthusiasm towards learning and discovering unknown. The fatal line, the bullet in her heart from the teacher was, "You may not be able to go to the high school unless you try harder." This is a spit on your face. This is a kick in your already bruised butt. This is a bucket of cold water on your head on the freezing winter night. Such words humiliate you.  Such words pierce your heart and numb it. Little by little, I can see her heart stop taking things in due to the pain, humiliation, disappointment, despair that come along with heartless words like that. It is not even truthful. It is just a harsh and mean words reflecting the teacher's irritation towards his lack of ability to inspire and motivate his students. I've heard so many lines like that back in school days and I know that none of them are true now. But how do you know when you are just 14 and the school life occupies 80% of your conscious life?

I truly wished she had a friend like my best mate telling her repeatedly that how wonderful and special she is because who she is. I wish I could be her best friend but as you know for a teenager, a mum is a mum not a friend. She needed a person who has a faith in her. Someone who is not a member of her family and looks at her objectively and genuinely appreciates her presence in her/ his life. Someone like my best mate.

At the party, a big help from my partner and the amazing audience, Momo managed to play some tunes and got applause, telling her how wonderful performer she was. Except a few people in the crowd, no one really knew what mental state Momo was in and what she really needed. For me, those encouraging sweet words from them were the best Christmas gift I can ever think of for Momo. The words from the cool grown-ups who enjoy their lives and successful in their own way. They had no idea the impact of their words on her. But those words she heard last night were like the line I carry every single day, " Have a little more faith in yourself." By the time we got home after joining the second party at a bar, the little twinkles came back to her eyes. This morning she said, " It was fun.."

Her frozen heart has melted a little. Of course, it takes time to build more faith in herself. But at least, she experienced that there were the whole wider world with all jolly and lovely awesome grown-ups.
And those people appreciate her presence and talent.

Thanks to the jolly mates and their Christmas spirit. I truly wish you a very merry Christmas!!!