The Tear-Stained Man

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3 years ago

Woman One

Even though you never neglect to create a bright smile on your face, somehow I can always dive into that gaze not as a gate of laughter, but a pair of grief niches. I just recognized you a week ago. However, for some reason, I can always read the flogging in your soul? That smile wasn't the origin of laughter. I know it. Looking into those eyes was only daydream — a glare tainted with tears. Sometimes I try to ask, whisper to your heart. Do you want to share?

But of course not. Even though you are known to be cheerful by the blind friends in this guesthouse, I know that you are not a person who easily indulges the contents of your chest, also with wounds. You will not allow any of them to enter your sorrow. Certainly not. And I? Who am I that it is to me that you want to reveal everything? I'm not who you are. I'm just a woman who just recognized you a week ago. Whether it can stop in your memory, or not. Ah, why did I start to insert hope?

However, the days will certainly not be the same. Prayers may come tomorrow. Didn't we know the secrets of heaven? At our next meeting, among the comforted laughter of the blind children, you begin to think of me as there. You wonder about my college, my hobbies, my family, and all kinds of things like the start of a friendship. You look so enthusiastic as if you are the best friend who is knitting back the old story. You started chanting to me too. And smiles turn into laughter on our faces.

For a moment my chest was touched happily. Your laughter is real. You are as if untouched by a single wound. But always, never forever. Suddenly the cheerful crack on your face disappears. You are like someone who awakens from daydreams. You start to recede in nervousness. Ah, why all of a sudden?

I really want to reach you. Back to draw you to laughter. And dedicate all the stories. But really you have come a long way. Plunging into dark wounds. You came back to the blind children with fake cheer.

The days continue to tangle with time. I didn't feel it had been rolling for a week. We meet again at the guesthouse on Sunday afternoon. And strangely, you don't greet me, as if you never know.

That afternoon, when you finished laughing with the blind children, as usual, you secluded yourself to the grassy garden in the courtyard of the mosque, as if that place was your most comfortable nest. You're sitting there with a book. You're sinking into the blue of time.

However, when the evening has drawn dusk and the invitation of a divine sermon lulls the horizon, you are awake. As usual, before going home, you must first perform Maghrib in this mosque. And as usual, you first guide blind boys to the place of ablution after then finish your chastity. With a line of women, I see you as the last jama'ah covering the shaf. The holy grains are like illuminating your face. But why doesn't it look like your wound has been washed?

In the afternoon, I also made plans. It has been a long time since I wanted to share my livelihood with street children at a traffic light crossing. For the past two weeks I have set aside a small portion of my pocket money and then buy two large bags containing dozens of packaged rice and several pieces of clothes. However, I really didn't expect you to follow me. You're offering to help I was reluctant to accept. You're insistent. But in the end, I accepted it. You carry both packs of weights.

While walking coldly you asked with a gaze that never even crossed my eyes, "These packages, what for?". I answered simply, "Isn't there anything wrong with sharing?". You gasped in awe as if smothered by words of wisdom.

At the end of our meeting that day, after all the street children got their rights, while the night was getting dark, you offered to take me home. At first, I refused because I remembered the limits of our togetherness. But prone tonight is like giving me a warning. So I let you accompany me home.

You stopped public transportation. Not many passengers on it. Only one or two men with dark faces sitting steaming, who came back from nowhere. Their eyes were wide with prejudice. You're right, nights are so precarious for single women.

In that public transportation, time seems to be rolling slowly. Tired of the day making the trip home not as fast as noon. Likewise you, maybe because you are tired of laughing so much with the blind children, you are lost for words. But maybe we have thought the same; because it is not muhrim that's why you have to sit quietly beside me.

We both go down in front of the alley to my house after you pay the fare. I wanted to say thank you, but you already ran across the street, back to stopping the public transportation; don't know if you look back; I don't know whether you keep the same hope as me (even though I hope so). Your public transportation sped with the cold, melting into the end of the night.

Since that night, we never met again. Even though I have visited the homeless blind every time, hoping you also have the same intentions as me, you still don't appear again. You are as if lost in time, like erasing all traces of you. But you know, days, months, even years after that I'm still waiting for you. Hoping that one day you appear at the guesthouse gate with a new smile. Not a smile tainted with wounds.

* * *

Woman Two

You just appear like that, incarnate a perfect figure. In fact, I thought you came from Arjuna country. You have charisma. You are also good at speaking and know all the manners. Also, be noble to women. Sometimes my dreams act wild. Are you the one who will marry me? Are you my soul mate? Ah, looks like I was expecting too far.

But not really. You seem so open. Enthusiastic about every word of the other person. When you talk to me, you always give me color. Your jokes really crunch up laughter that sometimes I forget myself. Our working relationship is also supportive. There is always plenty of time available to hang out. That's where I dig yourself; about your dreams that brighten up your eyes; about the determination of your heart that took steps; about your policy of softening the tone. Oh, you really are a special man.

Two weeks since that introduction has passed. Our friendship is just getting warmer. During that time, I filled the chatter at my house with stories about you so that my mother seemed to see her youth in me. With my mother's permission, I also decided to come to your house that afternoon with a packet of your favorite food.

I know you seemed unexpected when I came to your house that afternoon. Even if you've told me that your house is so-so, that you're not rich, that you don't have much to be proud of, and other 'that-that', I still don't care. I'm not looking for you because of the world. I admire beyond it all.

However, after you told me to come in, you suddenly changed. You're not even as bright as I know. I no longer found the curve of the smile. Your face is so gloomy. Your lips are pressed tightly together like holding a chest. Did I not come right? Has something hurt you?

Really not you that afternoon. You're dumb. Where are the words adorning those lips? Where are the jokes that make laughter? And where is the bright, cheerful light? You are like a loser. When I tried to unravel the question, you receded even further, doubling your chest fortress.

The days after that started to turn different. You're getting closer and closer to me. You don't talk much anymore. Your jokes also seem to fade. And your steps, like no longer galloping. Why? Am I wrong?

I try again to break it apart. I want to find the stain of friendship and wash it white again. Ah, that's if there is. But after the cake, I didn't find it either. Really, I don't want it to end like this. For a moment you spend the afternoon, but soon you lower the darkness. What's this? Don't I deserve to fill my heart?

But in the end, you made a sound. It was a crying gray afternoon. You face me like a sorry boy. You took me to the lonely city park to dedicate all the secrets. Even though your voice is steadfast in color, but the look in your eyes is still tainted with wounds, washed with tears.

You described all the wounds too. You are just a disappointed son — a child who has abandoned all dreams. You have trampled the world far away just to reach your prayers, but you came home empty-handed. There's nothing wrong with you. Not. You never incised sin until you have to reap karma. Not. It's just that maybe the sky hasn't revealed all its secrets. Shouldn't we perfume with hand lines?

Now I have tried Kuresapi: Salty wounds must be wrapped in your bright sweetness. That's why you always want to appear filled with laughter. You did it just to silence the pain. So that you don't stare, the eyes that will hit you with contempt — a gaze that never wants to understand a failure.

However, at the end of that shady twilight, you also emphasize your story. You can firmly emphasize that you often become a pseudo-figure so you can protect yourself from the heartless babble of those around you. Over and over again, you say that all you have is nothing more than a doubtful look on the next day. And finally, you confirmed that you are not the right man for me.

Hearing your voice say softly like that, broke my tears. I can no longer hear the notes of defeat. Why measure yourself that low? Don't you remember that you are not the world I seek from you?

It is on the remnants of the twilight line that I see your figure melting into the night. Even though you don't move, you still feel far away. Too far to reach. Yes, it is into that dark wound that you sink deeper, ignoring a helping hand, which will always be ready to erase all your wounds.

* * *

Woman Three

Sometimes I try to search for time. Are there any pieces of the incident that were missed? Is there something I can't read? So why should we open the introduction on the opaque sheet? You greeted me at that time with the eyes full of stories — stories that have long drained your sobs. You also put into my chest a question whose answer you have thrown away.

However, I am not an instant woman with a questioning heart. I'm not a woman who is unthinkable. Not! I am a woman who cares about the complaints of friends. I am a woman who always wants to evaporate every drop of the wound to be happy. I am a woman who holds onto tears and crushes them and then strings them into laughter. So, once I opened the door of that friendship, you are my best friend forever.

So that afternoon I purposely took you to a cozy cafe to dedicate your dark gray history. I want you to expose the long strands of your history under a shaded lamp. I want you to scavenge and collect back the crumbs of laughter that have long been buried in thick wounds, digging them up in the memory rooms mapped onto the cafe's ceiling. I want you to shed all the tears until there is no more.

At first, you did not flinch in restless silence. Many times you squeeze your hands and stare at the depths of the flames of the soft candles on the table as if looking for a word to start the story. Every now and then you exhale chest tightness to breathe back the fragments of memory.

You start with your son's bitter story. You describe that you are a boy who grew up with a shower of insults, wrath, and unwarranted rage from your father; you are the boy who limps across the world without the wise figure of a father; you were a boy very early forged by the cruelty of your father's behavior; you are the boy who gave up hope in a heartless father; and you are the boy who must bear the burden of your mother and all your sisters, taking the place of your father who has escaped responsibility.

From your description, I also hate your father and curse how torn your past is. However, when you raised your gaze at me, you smiled nervously. But I know it's not a smile of victory that you've made it through, but a smile to laugh at your own defeat. I was lost for words.

You continue your story again. This time you say with a blush that you are actually a smart man who is eloquent; that in fact, you are no less superior to your friends; that you also have very big dreams; that you also want to fulfill your family's prayers. You said that that's why you wanted to go all the way to the city, only to gain victory over your past slump. You want to replace all the pain of memories with your proud achievements.

However, while shaking your head in disappointment, you finally said that fate had defeated you, abandoned all your dreams, and destroyed the things that should be proud of you one day. In a time when you should be working to reach the end of your struggles in the realm of overseas, news about one of your sisters being stripped of her sanity reached your ears. Then that is the culmination of all your destruction. You have no choice but to return to your hometown.

You said softly that your father was the cause of it all, because of your heartless father that your sister went crazy. That is the cause that drains all your tears and takes away most of your laughter. You came back home empty-handed. Not the slightest bit of pride pinned on your chest.

Your return journey is getting tougher. Worry about people's judgments about your return ripples across your chest; will you get a shower of scorn? So at your first step in the land of birth, how thick have you made your face. You bury all your dreams in the darkest room in your chest whose door you have locked to death.

When you suddenly opened the door of your house, your insane sister rushed into your arms and then collapsed at your feet, smashed helplessly, sobbing miserably. For a moment you feel like finding back the figure that has been lost and how at that time you feel your chest is really wound and bleeding. Your sister is completely different now; thin, shabby, disheveled, and mashed. Meanwhile, your old mother, crawling on all fours with her paralyzed legs just to embrace yours, wringing the tears of longing that have been silenced for years.

For a moment you stop your story because soft sobs have shaken your body. Ah, how those tears don't equal all the shreds of your life. You wiped the running down your eyes and got back on with it.

Your father, the savage, has now disappeared somewhere, not knowing the forest. There is news whispering that your father has returned to his family across the country. He wants to spend his old age without having to bear the burden. Leaving your mother, sisters, and you. Now, you are the one who occupies that honorable place, as the backbone of the family.

You closed your story by smiling again at me. But once again I know that smile is nothing more than a ripple of pain in your chest, not a sign of happiness that you have made it through. While I'm still speechless, don't know where to place myself in your sad realm, you throw your gaze out the glass window which is soaked by the raindrops - outside the sky has been scrambled dark by the thick black weeping clouds. You enjoy every drop that melts on the clear surface of the window, as if in the hope that your tears, which are full of wounds, melt along with it too.

You gasped when I held your two limp hands on the table. You wake up from the late gloomy daydreams. Through the look in your eyes, you read that handheld as an expression of caring that you shouldn't accept. In the nervous and restless you pull back your hands. Why? Have black memories made you feel unworthy of pity?

You shake your head restlessly and return me with a dim gaze. Then you come back to the story. This time it's about two women who have filled your nights with shadows. You once harbored a love for a noblewoman whom you met at a homestead for the blind in the city. You adore it so much that somehow you end up feeling unworthy of having it again. Your dark past and the fact that you had to come back home to bear your family weighed in against choosing him. Then you run all your hopes with it. Then when you returned to your hometown and worked in a learning institution here, you too were loved by a woman who was sincere and humble. But once again you base it, the wounds in your family have forgotten you in the beauty of happy laughter. You throw the taste away, burying the sheen of wishful thinking into puddles of tears. You even promised not to drag anyone into your sobs. That includes me too. At the end of our first and last meeting that day, you finally said, "This is my way. Let me walk it myself. "

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3 years ago