Within one day, I received phone calls from both my Mom and my sister, and that really annoyed me, since the topic of those conversations was about my intention to buy a house (again). Seems like, after a college degree, the next thing that concerns your family is you owning a piece of real estate.
It wouldn’t have been that annoying if my sister hadn’t been so inconsistent, not to say hypocritical. I remember some years ago, while I was expressing my wish to live in another city rather than Ho Chi Minh, despite my mother’s approval, my sister immediately refuted it and criticized it as too dreamy and unrealistic. Now, she appears to approve of my idea without making any apology.
This is in fact not her first time of manipulating my life. In my senior year at college, she interrogated me about my sexual orientation, and after knowing that I was gay, she forced me to come to terms with her arrangement that I must get back to my parents’ house right after graduation and settle down there, or else she would tell parents the truth (a threat that I later found pretty ridiculous, for it would ruin everything). She doesn’t know how traumatizing those words she threw on me were, due to which I almost lost all my hope in changes because I thought my future had already been predetermined: To live closetedly in the desolate countryside among homophobic neighbors, to waste young years on dull work and binge drinking with basic folks, to die lonely and namelessly. No more pride. No more hangouts with like-minded guys. Yet ironically, when I got my first job with a handsome salary, she changed her mind all at once and asked me to keep my good work so that one day I could buy a decent house in this city.
And now, she abruptly called me and asked if I still wanted to buy a house in Da Lat probably because she figured out it could be more profitable to have some property in Da Lat in stead of an apartment in Ho Chi Minh. But do you think it’s possible to preserve such a broken dream of a better life after all those years of ups and downs?
I always hold off my anger when talking to my sister. Silence is part of my fight-or-flight response whenever she oversteps the boundary.
But when my mom called, I lost control of my emotion and started to say things that made me belatedly regret. I told her how disappointed I was with the inconsistency of my sister who somehow beguiled me into buying a house probably for the sake of her future advantage, I don’t know. I even told my mom to care less about me, for I could take good care of myself.
And of course, my mom tried to comfort me by saying that she would never want me to follow any specific direction, that what she was doing was trying to elicit my thoughts on a future plan, and that I must know she would always be there with family resources to help me achieve my dreams because she wants me to live happily for the rest of my life.
“But Mom”, wish I could confide in her, “I don’t feel like I have a dream to achieve. It seems, to me, there is only one thing left, which is responsibility. I no longer care about where to live or how to live. So don’t ask me about my dreams, ask yourself what you are really dreaming of”.
The thing is, her maternal instincts have been so fossilized that she could no longer care about anything but her son’s well-being. There is no one like my Mom, indeed. She is, to me, the most selfless ego on earth who makes me feel most beloved and hurtful at the same time, for I am completely impotent in paying back all those things that she has given me.
I remember she said something like “maybe I do not a hundred percent understand you, but I could at least make it some parts or so”, and that really broke my heart. You should know how it feels when the one who brought you up chooses her words very carefully so that you could feel respected. That’s my Mom. She’s never preachy, and she always encourages me in whatever I do with my life.
Wouldn’t you, in my shoes, find yourself stuck in an emotional paradox when being pulled over by two opposing forces simultaneously? While my sister is a manipulative and intimidating person, my Mom is the most caring and nurturing being.
The situation that I am having with my family really numbs me: I’m scared of my Dad; I love my mom, and I sort of dislike my sister. On the one hand, I feel deeply that I must do something for them, but on the other hand, I know too well that I’m totally impotent.
A house? I may die at 35 due to suicidal thoughts, who knows, so what’s the point of owning a house? If my family really wants the best for me, then hopefully they know that a house does not necessarily make my life more worth living.
Photo: Lean Lui