I’m now back at my old home, sitting on the floor of Chwee Kueh’s room, enjoying the aircon and his collection of sad Chinese love songs blaring away. Essentially, I’m resting and my heart’s been peaceful for the past few hours, thanks to my family members' proximity and my mum's double-boiled soup.
I know I don’t talk much about the sadder aspects of my Life that i encounter, usually because I think its boring and it ain’t funny, so there’s no point.
But today, I’ve decided to break this rule a little bit and let some seep through. It’s my gal fren. I believe I have featured her here before under Tears over Scrambled Eggs. She’s that fren of mine who’s got those great legs and loves her hubby.
Sometimes the conversations are too long to remember and too sad to recall, so here are some of the snippets of the many long conversations we’ve have had since the fateful day she decided to open up. I appreciate that you guys really do care and am surprised by some of the comments I’ve been getting for that entry. But its true that during that time, you can call it an isolated incident and dismiss it.
Well, unfortunately, now you can’t. Not when things are going from bad to worse.
Here’s a summary of the things that have been going on. Firstly, as I said, the 2 of us are very similar, we got married pretty early and had a great start ie, a career, a loving husband, a car. We studied a lot and made the best of our education.
Of cos the big question is a big fat ‘So What?’
Since they were married, the husband has been a successful public servant. Successful is easy to explain in civil service terms, it just meant he can do his job and is more capable than normal and commands the respect of his subordinates. He himself is a cheerful and forceful person who believed the world his oyster. To give him his due, the turnover rate at his department tripled after he left because there was no morale left.
Then the bad stuff began to happen. To say he was ill-prepared wasn’t really true. Academically he had a double masters (he is indeed an LKY-loyalist), but socially, he did not expect to meet head-on rejection from companies who tell him he had ‘no experience’, too ‘academically-senior’, ‘post too junior’, ‘overqualified’, ‘jobscope don’t fit your resume’. One of the worse was definitely ‘sorry, but we have had some bad experience with ex-government employee, I’m afraid we cannot consider you.’
Meanwhile, my fren held the fort by working and saving, and watched her once happy and optimistic husband transform into a bitter, haunted man.
When he finally got a job offer after 6 months, they were both overjoyed. But it turns out the female was a witch and working for her was, in his words, ‘horrific’. Then came their first quarrel. It was over money and over sacrifices.
'But Dear, we need the money.’
‘I cannot stand being there anymore! Can you understand the torture having to del with her everyday?’
‘But, the money…’
‘The money, the money!! Is that all you ever think about?!! What about me?’
‘Well, at least stay till you get another job. I’m not earning enough for the both of us.’
‘No, I can’t! I can’t stay another day!’
‘Why can’t you be Stronger!’
‘Why can’t you Understand!?”
‘But I do understand! I understand that you are NOT willing to just stick around and earn the money that we need.’
‘I don’t want that bitch’s money!’
‘Well, I want! We NEED IT!!
‘Shut up! Just SHUT UP! If you love me, you’ll support me!’
So the ultimatum came out in a burst of all that anger. Unwilling, but not knowing what to do, she dried her tears and said, ‘of cos I love you.’ Then they kissed and made up. He quit and the witch docked his pay. They were now back to square one.
On the surface was a happy cheerful couple who loved each other, but the rot has started invading. The only blessing they had was that both their families were healthy, happy and independent.
The huge relief she felt was gone, all those times when she thought her eyes would brim but couldn’t find a quiet spot in the office for some peace has come back with a vengeance. She started wearing her armor of cheerfulness and cheerleader-mentality again (you can do it, hubby!), and found solace in hope. Hope that things will go well, that things will be OK. She kept up a litany of these sayings both for herself and her husband, who sometimes cried himself to sleep. Thankfully, and this she told me in all honesty, chuckling, ‘At least I’ve finally found that quiet spot in the office. You wouldn’t believe the amount of security cameras they’ve got there!’
Then after another 3 months, he got another offer. She called me up and screamed her joy in my fragile ears. The pay was better and the big boss seemed good. On her part, she had hung on to her own work, it was her first job but she excelled in it enough to get a pay rise. She seldom talked about her work. Her excuse being that my eyes will glaze. The only reference from it I ever got from her was, ‘Some customers can be such jerks, Akk, I wouldn’t know where to start.’
‘This time, I’m sure it’s gonna work!’ She chirped. Then inexplicably and yet, explicably, she broke down when I agreed with her. Yup, it seems all good, I said to her.
I would love to end the story here, to give you all a great ending. I’d love to say that she’s happier than she’s ever been, that her hubby’s doing well and so is she. I’d like to say to you readers what she used to tell me after every call, that finally everything’s going to be OK, everything’s going to be fine.
This time he lasted 4 months. There was no quarrel, just an amicable discussion that if he stayed there any longer, he’ll become a shell of himself. Does she want to have him wake up every morning depressed and emotionally wrought, to go against himself, just so that he could bring home the bacon, or does she want him to retain his sanity?
And she, who has been suffering already from his bouts of depression and hopeless anger during those months, gave him a hug and said, in all truthfulness, ‘I don’t think I can be happy if you aren’t.’ He did not note the irony. He left again without another job. They agreed, that while he looked for another job (again), he would try being an insurance agent.
Thankfully, her subconscion somehow had refused to believe her ‘everything will be OK’ self-delusion, so she had been diligently saving as much as she could, because the past few months of unemployment had almost wiped out their joint account savings after it wiped out his.
The past 4 months saw him struggling, both trying to sell insurance and trying to find a job. Its true that he was happier than when he was in the previous company, but she noted, with extreme dejection, that he did not seem to be selling much insurance although he packed his days meeting people. He was trying his best and doing all the right things, so she did not complain.
And then the day she dreaded came, they had finally used up their joint savings, the bulk of which was hers. Last week, he shame-facedly asked her to settle his credit card bills and car instalments. The car, which was his prized possession, was to be their undoing. One day in the car, he admitted that there were no job offers and she tentatively asked him if he could let go of the car or sell the house.
‘What do you mean?’ his voice grew cold.
‘We can’t afford the car and house anymore.’
‘We’ll need to top-up even if I sell the car now.’
‘No, I meant to sell the car and use public transport.’
‘What happen to your ‘everything’s going to be all right'?’ he accused, the air in the car had become frigid.
Then before she could answer, which was just as well, he lost his temper.
‘Do you know how little confidence and self-worth I have left in myself? How can you ask me to sell away those very things that at least gave me an indication that I was once successful!’ And he slammed this palms on his steering wheel and shouted while she cried.
‘How could you!!’
‘How could he?’ she moaned to me. ‘My money, he’s using my money…. Soon we’ll have none…’
‘There there….’ I soothed, my own fingers hastily groped for Kleenex while my ear was plastered to the phone.
‘I love him and I hate him! I hate him! I’ve never been this unhappy!’ she wailed while I wiped my own eyes.
‘And I can’t leave him, I don’t have the strength to, I can’t bear to ….Oh Akk,’ she sobbed. ‘What should I do?’
I cried too. What can she do?
I need a breath.