Ripples Following Ripples ~ COLLISION-COURSE

My baggage was so heavy ~ my days of traveling light are long-gone ~ that I expected to have to pay excess-baggage charges at the airport, but they let me go, and I was on my way to Malaysia again. DV picked me up, and once more I had a nice time in Malacca. Before I flew on to England, I bought a new laptop, having given my old one to Hung’s son, Hai; they don’t last long, especially with the amount of use I give them. I also got a new digital camera. Unwilling to take another chance with my baggage at K.L. airport ~ especially with the extra things I’d acquired ~ I sent a box of it off by sea-mail; it arrived months later.

The KLM flight from K.L. to Amsterdam was very cramped, and I needed to go, but hung on until we got there, then went quickly to relieve myself. The connecting-flight to Manchester was much better, and of course, brief.

This time in England, however, although it started off alright, was to turn into a disaster, and it pains me to have to write about it, but if I don’t, my story will be incomplete.

Glen wasn’t happy that Karin had got back with her stud again and was once more pregnant, but just had to accept it as a fait accompli. Karin didn’t care what anyone else thought, and did just whatever she felt like doing.

I plunged into my work around the place, and did numerous things that I’d not planned to do. I’d long-noticed that while doing one job, other jobs presented themselves to be done; it was as if I went looking for work. Over the years I’d been going there, I had completely reshaped the back-yard and extensive garden.

Then came my nemesis: Glen’s 16-year-old grandson ~ her eld-est daughter’s son ~ for a weekend, his name was Wilky (short for Wilkinson), and I got a taste of what to expect some weeks hence, when, upon leaving high-school, he would come to stay with Glen in order to attend an agricultural-college nearby (his home was maybe 150 kms away). He’d been a nice young kid, but was certainly not a nice teenager. Now, I’m not the easiest person to live with, and am ready to admit this, but I was quite prepared to be friendly with him, and indeed, had looked forward to his short visit, and tried to make conversation with him; all I got in return were monosyllabic answers or grunts. Well, many teen-agers are like that, I know, but that is not an excuse.

Glen had spoiled her kids, and I saw her repeating it with this brat. She could see that I wasn’t impressed with him during that initial visit, and said, “I don’t want any trouble when he comes to stay,” as if she expected me to initiate it.

Well, his parents brought him, with all his stuff, and he soon had a part-time job on a farm somewhere. I must be fair and say this about him: he wasn’t lazy, but was a good worker ~ although only for his own sake. He would come home stinking of manure, but often went days without showering; fortunately, because the weather permitted, he'd made a den in the unused garage where he slept with the dog, so his stink remained there, but when he did come through the house to shower, the smell was awful. Then, he would leave his dirty clothes on the bathroom floor for Glen to pick up, and left the bath-mat soggy; his parents had obviously not made a very good job in their upbringing of him.

He fixed speakers up and played rap-music at such a volume that it could be heard far down the street. He had a scooter, on which to commute to work and so on, but it sounded like a chain-saw as he roared up and down the driveway at any time of the day and night, clearly showing utter disregard for others. The neighbors on one side couldn’t have been quieter, but those on the other side were just the opposite, often holding late-night parties with blaring karaoke music and using bad language, even though they had young kids of their own. Other neighbors finally united and lodged a complaint against them, and they were ordered to tone things down. We also used to complain about them, but with this kid on his chain-saw, we’d lost the moral high-ground, and had no right to say anything more. I told Glen to tell him about this, but it was a long time before she did; she was afraid of offending him and that he might leave her.

Things came to a head one night, and there was an explosion, for which I held Glen responsible, as I’d told her it was coming, and she should have seen it herself and done something to prevent it. We were all sitting in the lounge, and she said: "Go on, plug in" ~ meaning his laptop, which was beside him on the sofa. To do so, however, he would have had to take the cable from my laptop and plug it in his own, as he had done several times after I'd gone to bed, but left it in his instead of plugging it back in mine. Twice, she said it, as he hesitated, knowing he should ask me, but un-willing to do so. At this, fed-up with his attitude, I said, "If he asks first". Instead of encouraging him to do so, however, Glen came to his defense and said: "How petty! We'll buy you a cable tomor-row." I then reminded her that he doesn't speak to me, and asked her why she'd not spoken to him about this, as she'd agreed to do so the week before when we’d argued about it. Unable to avoid it, she did ask, upon which he said: "I do talk to you".

"When?" I said.

"I spoke to you yesterday," he said, “when you came back from the dentist's". He remembered, you see ~ and I did ~ as it was a one-off event; he certainly didn't speak to me when he came in that evening. It is only common courtesy to greet people, isn't it? I wasn't being petty. I told Glen she thinks the sun shines out of his butt, and she agreed she did, saying she loved him to bits; but this was indulgence, not love, and is exactly the way she spoiled her kids before. I don't know if he was a mamma's boy, but he certainly seemed to be a nana's boy; if he came home and found her not in, he immediately zoomed off on his scooter to look for her at Karin's; he couldn't bear to be there when she wasn’t.

Now, when we go to stay with other people, we feel our way and adjust to the situation there, speaking to everyone politely and in a friendly way, no? Not this kid; from the very beginning, he set himself on a collision-course with me. I don’t know if he was sim-ply rude or had taken an immediate personal dislike to me, or what, but he hardly uttered a word to me. I couldn’t think of any-thing I’d done that might have accounted for his bad-manners, but Glen doted on him and took his side totally. I saw clearly from this that she had a way of avoiding problems by sweeping them under the carpet instead of dealing with them. She could easily have told him ~ and should have ~ to at least greet me whenever he came in; after all, this is British custom, too. The next day, I explained to her the error she’d made, and begrudgingly, she apologized, but it didn’t solve the problem, which continued.

I also told her that he might have learned many things from me, but so biased had she become that she said sneeringly, “Like what?” I knew then that it was all over, and began to make plans to leave, but this took quite some time.

One day, I’d been out on my bike and came home with a flat tire. Fixing it, I found a tack in it, but thought I’d picked it up on the road somewhere. A few days later, there was another tack in my tire, and still I thought it might have come from the road; maybe some monkey-boy had maliciously scattered them. When I went out again, I paid special attention to the roads on my route, but there was no sign of tacks. The third time it happened, I became suspicious; these tacks had come from somewhere nearer home. I said to Glen, “Have you been sticking tacks in my tires?”

“I have not,” she said, indignantly. “Why would I do that?”

“I didn’t think you would,” I said, “but someone has.” I don’t know if she saw my point, or if her love refused to allow her to think it of him. Before I left, there was a fourth tack in my tire.

I sold the new printer-scanner I’d bought, and a circular-saw, but gave clothes and the many books I’d collected to a charity-shop, and in the end, unable to sell my bike, I gave that, too. I mailed a large parcel of stuff back to Malacca, to await me there.

Two days before I was to fly out to Turkey, Sheila called with the news that mum had died. I was upstairs in my room, and Glen came to tell me, sobbing, with tears on her face. I sat in medita-tion for a while, but having had years to prepare for this, didn’t feel sad; actually, I was relieved that she’d been released from her ruined body. She was almost 93. (Sheila saw to the funeral arrangements, and Anita hypocritically gave the eulogy. Her body was cremated, and Sheila later sent the ashes to Glen, to be scattered at the place where mum had been born).

Later, an argument developed over mum’s death, and quickly turned to dad. I’d not realized before just how badly Glen had felt about him. She dredged up things from many years in the past that she’d kept in the back of her mind. I told her that I’d made my peace with dad before he died, and was happy about that; she hadn’t, and it was too late now, and she was left with so much hatred, for that is what came out in her words and on her face. I let her go on, as I could see that nothing I could say would have any effect other than add fuel to the flames. She then said, “I know I’ll never see you again,” and she was probably right, as I can think of no reason whatsoever to return to England again.

< Previous  -   Next>

Home  -   Against The Stream  -   As It Is  -   Because I Care  -   Behind The Mask  -   Boleh Tahan -   Just A Thought -   Let Me See  -   Lotus Petals  -   Not This, Not That  -   Parting Shots  -   Ripples Following Ripples  -   So Many Roads  -   This, Too, Will Pass  -   Wait A Minute!  -   Your Questions, My Answers  -   Download  -   Funeral  -   Links  -   Contact