Sunday, June 09, 2019

Family (Un)Feeling and Linguistic Negligence

I think it was early morning yesterday. In a dream, I saw dreams I’d seen I don’t know when. Vivid images. Clear stories. Immediately I thought about writing them down. No pen. No paper. In less than a moment, I forgot them all. This had happened to me more than a few times before. Or so it seems.

Reading about families is not easy. In many stories, they are depicted as a reassuring presence or institution. Parents loving their kids, and vice versa. I simply cannot empathize with it, though it is a kind of love I probably long for. My family was always confusing, disturbing, destabilizing, irritating me, affecting my attitude toward my parents and brother certainly and profoundly. My mother almost always scolded me for pranks and deceptions any child can come up with. My elder brother was always the boy I should’ve emulate. I remember the kind of feeling I had when, one day after such scolding, she tugged me on her laps, showing her love. It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I’ve ever experienced. On her laps, I was saying to myself, “Let me go. Let me go.” But I could say nothing to her. Out of respect? Maybe. Out of politeness? Maybe. I was a kindergarten baby, playing hooky on the day.

I’d feel less uncomfortable, or even comfortable. with my father. I enjoyed watching him mending here and there about the house, which I suspect made my mother rather harsh on me.

Grown up, working part-time at a downtown department store while in college, I often saw families shopping together and going to restaurants together. I found those scenes nothing but disgusting.

My brother, whose example I was supposed to follow, did nothing to preserve any sense of family. He’s even tried to preserve it. He abandoned his wife after her battle of cancer for another woman. And this new woman is to me like, “who are you?” I understand she was nice to my mother but only after she was in a very advanced stage of dementia, when she didn’t recognize who from who. My mother had complained to me about him for not introducing this new girlfriend of him to her.

In every dream wherein any of my parents or brother appears, it is a nightmare.

With both my parents gone and brother no longer to be emulated, my thought was, “Finally my time has come.” Freed from emotional obligations, I thought I could and should go my way, hopefully making my “own” family. That’s not easy. I’m aged.

One of the English grammar things emphasized again and again to the Japanese students is “s.” “S” for the plural form and “s” for the verbs of third person, singular and present tense. They are almost obsessed with these “s’s,” they can’t say a word afraid of making mistakes. Ha! Working in Southeast Asia, I’ve met an uncountable number of people who just ignore the rules or don’t know them. In Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, or Tagalog, they may not have these rules. That cannot be an excuse. The Japanese language does not have them either. What must be followed must be followed. Poor Japanese. They are still struggling with them. This negligence and ignorance makes my work troublesome. And this makes them sound stupid.

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