Heart of Chaos
By Calis Cheah
There is no tomorrow only today
One moment to live, to breathe
My existence, wisps of dreams
Living in obscure shadows
At the back of a child's mind
Eyes that do not see,
Ears that cannot hear,
A mouth without a voice
Even if I screamed,
There would be no sound
Bearing his cross in silence
The unknown martyr
I suffered for the ignorant sinner
And would they consecrate me as a saint?
No, they saw me only as
He was gone.
Karen instinctively knew she was alone even before she opened her eyes. Except for the indentation left on the pillow beside her head, there were no other traces evident to indicate her husband had been back with her. More and more, Karen was feeling a sense of emptiness that was gnawing at her bit by bit. The feeling only intensified when her husband returned.
" Father? Father? " The sound of a small fist pounding on the stout wood of her bedroom door accompanied the high-pitched little voice.
" Come in, Fei. The door 's not locked. "
And it has not been in a long time...
Khan had just suddenly stopped making love to her. While not a man demonstrative with his emotions, he had shown her his affection by small little gestures like a kiss against her forehead and holding her hand nevertheless. Yet now, Karen could count the times that they had been intimate with the fingers of one hand. It was as if he had stopped loving her ever since he came back from one of his trips. Last night was the same as many previous nights, Khan had lain right next to her but there was an intangible wall between them that Karen had tried to breach time and again but all her attempts resulted only in failure. Her husband had locked up his heart in a place she could not reach.
The door opened and her son's small face peeped in gingerly as if he was afraid to catch his parents at something that he should not see.
" Father? Where's he? " Fei was positively buoyant with innocent happiness.
Karen rose from her bed, pushing back the dark strands of her hair with one hand. She did not want to tell Fei that his father had left them again without saying goodbye. He had kicked up a big fuss the last time it happened by refusing to eat and sleep, planting himself at his usual spot to wait for Khan. Waiting for his father with the denial in his heart that he had only gone away for some short errant. Karen wanted to break it gently to Fei but her expression gave her away. The boy took one look at her face and his joy crumbled into dust.
Fei stood behind the door, his small body casting a forlorn shadow into the dim bedroom with the soft golden light of dawning sun. Tears were forming at the corner of his eyes, turning his vision into a hazy blur but he stubbornly refused to cry. He had been so ecstatic at his father's homecoming yet all that had been replaced by sharp disappointment in a flash. The ball that had been his father's gift the night before, slipped unnoticed from his hands, bouncing a little before rolling to a stop before his mother's feet. Unable to bear it anymore, Fei turned and ran. The tears that he would not shed, falling fast and furious.
Fei threw open the door of his own little room and slammed it shut, smashing the blameless door against its frame with a hard resounding crash of wood against wood. His mother would scold but he was too hurt and angry to care. With a loud wail, Fei flung himself on his bed and began to cry in earnest. Burying his face against his pillow, Fei tried to muffle his sobs and his shame.
A man does not cry over anything.
Remember that, son.
You are the man of this house when I am away...
You are a man, my son.
You are a man... That was what his father had said to him. Fei burned with humiliation and bawled all the harder when he realized that he had failed to live up to his father's expectations. He cried until his eyes were red and swollen with his nose runny and his pillow reduced to a wet soggy mess. His weeping and childish anger soon gave way to exhaustion and the little boy fell asleep with his face still damp from his bout of crying. He had not slept much the night before with the excitement of having his father home keeping him up.
Karen carefully opened the door of her son's room, trying her best to minimize the creak that the often-abused door always made when it was opened or closed. She slipped into room silently like a ghost and paused before the bed that held her son. He was so small and looked so lost, a baby swallowed by the large bed. Karen smiled whimsically as she recalled the little disagreement she had with her husband about the size of that very bed. She had wanted something smaller but Khan had argued that since their son would outgrow a small bed, a large one made more sense. Karen had let her husband have his way. Her whimsical smile turned sorrowful as she watched Fei. She would see the tears that he had shed from the damp pillow that he rested his head on.
He looks so much like his father... a mirror image almost...
She reached out and gently brushed away the wisps of hair that had escaped his tiny ponytail. Her love and desire to protect her child surged as she saw the pain that still lingered on her son's face that sleep had not soothed away. Gathering the sleeping child to her breast, Karen felt the emptiness that had invaded her soul turned into a boundless void. She could not live with the lie anymore after so many years. She was lonely and needed the company of her husband. Even though the presence of Fei abated the ache somewhat, he could not chase away the chill that would settle in her heart whenever Khan went away. A solitary tear streaked across her face as she hugged Fei to her tightly.
Don't make me hate you...