Harry was too weak: the meaning of life was but a reminder for him to breathe. A hundred more or so and it would be his last.

“Father, I love you!” he sighed. “So long, world!”

A concentrated light from a source unknown struck his face.

“God, is that you?” he whispered finally.

– 0 –

Inside an unlighted room, atop a bare bed, Mang Jun tossed from side to side, his uneventful sleep was tormented by a nagging thought he tried to banish from his consciousness: what happened to his son?

He sat up, panting. Choking emotions filled his chest as if it would strangle him. Hatred was there, too: anger against a superpower who he believed abandoned him.

“They could never understand how painful it is!”

His late wife explained it to him at her death bed: be the mother and father to our child. It was his responsibility as a parent.

Mang Jun nodded to her but never believed he could do it. At age five, his son could not understand what has gone wrong. Still, he was enraged at the sight of the boy.

“This is all your fault!” The words were venomous.

His frightened son hid somewhere safe, unable to fathom how an adult, a so-called father, would be so cruel.

It was a house where love did not exist.

A year later, when he remarried, his anger against his son diminished somewhat but it was still there, cooled down by his second wife’s calming reasoning.

“Please go easy on him. He’s a good boy.”

“You will never understand how painful it is.” It was the usual statement he used every time.

Then, when everything seemed forgotten, three years later, he experienced his second trip to hell: his second wife died in an accident, his son helpless to give her aid.

“This is your fault!” His murderous thoughts egged him to retaliate at someone he loathed.

“I am sorry, Father. I cannot do anything to save her. I am not God!”

“Get out!”

Mang Jun made sure Harry would grow angry at him, angry at the world. He had less success with the first and failed miserably with the second. His son did the opposite.

He remembered yesterday, when Harry asked for permission to join a field trip. Usually, he did not give a damn where he went, only conveying discouraging words to put his son down. It was his vengeance for his existence.

“If you step out of this house, you can never come back!”

“It will be just for a day, Father,” Harry begged. “I am not remiss with my responsibilities here.”

“You are old enough. Do what you wish. Stay out of my life.”

Mang Jun was satisfied then: his son left with a heavy heart.

It was three in the morning, the absence of noise around was disconcerting.

He wished to go back to sleep but that single thought would not leave him: what happened to my son?

“Why are you doing this to me?” he shouted at no one. “I don’t care!”

No one answered him.

Afterward, as if time stood still, the words were uttered.

“I care!”

Mang Jun could not believe he was crying. For a long time, he lied to himself.

(to be concluded)



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