Julya Oui/Raindrops/1 Raindrops in the Sun

By Julya Oui

2777 words

"Let me tell you something Shaun. There are worse things than getting Alzheimer's, or or Cancer, or or a by-pass or s-some old disease to make your life miserable." The septuagenarian rested his weight on the handle of the walking stick as he heaved slowly to catch his breath. He focused his bleary gaze at the garden which was wet from the rain that had finally ceased. “Do you know what it is?” He turned to look at the boy whose youth was at the meridian of his glowing visage. "I don’t think so." The boy replied. "Regret." "Oh?" "If I had known better I would have done things differently.” He watched a Yellow-vented Bulbul picking on a fruit and singing its peculiar song at intervals. “You know, my son, Will, used to call it the bird-of-after-rain.” He pointed at the bird but his movements frightened it off before the boy could catch sight of it. The old man sighed and tried to sit on the plastic bucket chair and the boy quickly lent a hand to lower him down. “When I was younger I thought the world was all mine. I thought I was

Julya Oui/Raindrops/2 the only one who mattered. But I couldn’t be more wrong. And you know what the worst thing is? That you only realise this only when you’ve got one foot in the grave. That's what I am and that's where I'm going soon." The boy folded his lips up and kept silent as he sat beside the old man, not knowing how to respond but he tried. “Maybe, it’s not too late.” "Are you sure about that? The people I hurt all left me because I chased them all away. I destroyed my own family. And I don't know how many more people suffered my bigotry.” He swayed the walking stick back and forth while keeping his eyes fixed on no particular object in the garden. “Sometimes I wished I had dementia or Alzheimer's so that I won't remember the past but life has a slow and wicked way to make you pay for what you did or didn’t do." His eyes shimmered in the light of the indistinct sun and he tried to wipe away the pain with his corrugated hand. "I thought my son was weak. I thought I was doing the right thing forcing him to be a man like me.” The boy saw the old man’s affliction on the lines and grooves of his face reminiscent of a battle map of a forgotten war. “When I punished my son, sometimes with my strongarm tactics and sometimes with guilt trips, I told him to leave the crying to women. But look at me now. I can't even control my eyes, I can’t control my bladder and worst of all I can’t control my heart. It beats however it wants to beat and it feels whatever it wants to feel. It never used to be like this. I was a regimented soldier of the very essence of my manhood." “Maybe you’re being too hard on yourself." "I wish I was. I wish I could turn back time and make things right. If only

Julya Oui/Raindrops/3 it was that easy. Snap my fingers, snap my fingers, snap my fingers.” The old man brought his hand up to emphasise his litany but his fingers were too fragile to produce the sound he once knew. He turned to the boy who stared at him with doleful eyes. “Do you know how I wronged my only child?" The boy shook his head, not daring to ask. “When he told me he was gay I took away everything that made him happy. I said I would tolerate it as long as he didn’t embarrass me but I didn’t make it easy for him. I tried to make a man of him every way I could. I made him take up sports that he never liked. I stopped him from enjoying the finer things in life which were not considered masculine. And I was always glad whenever he got into fights. Sometimes I was the one who initiated it. I would call him names and tick him off to get him all riled up so that he would pick a fight with someone else. His mother knew what I was doing and she hated it. She argued with me at the beginning but I soon put her in the place I believed where all women should be. I placed my wife in every corner of the house except in my heart. And I never gave her a chance to be nice to our only son; instead, I blamed her for making him gay.” The old man darted his eyes side to side to grapple on an object to fix his focus upon but he could hardly see through his short-sightedness. “It went on fine for a while, or at least for me. My wife and my son accepted everything I said and did to them. I don’t know how they put up with me but they did. My son was soon becoming the man I wanted him to be and I thought life would go on the way it should. Then one day, when he was old

Julya Oui/Raindrops/4 enough, he brought home his boyfriend.” The old man closed his eyes and regarded the silence briefly before he continued to break it. “If I had a weapon there and then I would have been convicted of murder, and hung, a long long time ago.” He dropped his head down with a crack on the neck and rubbed his nape with long stroking motions. “I chased them out of the house and told my son never to come back.” The old man opened his eyes again and eased his body back into the hollow of the chair and locked his hands together in a tight grip on the cane. “That was the day I understood the word tolerate over acceptance. They are a world apart. While one is a dormant volcano waiting to explode, the other is to see how beautiful it actually is. I was reluctant to take back what I said even when my wife intervened and got our son to come back and ask for forgiveness. To make sure I still had control over him I gave him an ultimatum. In a private meeting between the two of us I told him I would leave his mother if he didn’t listen to what I said and get married to a nice pretty girl I found for him.” The old man shook his head side to side to accommodate the bitterness that had poisoned his entire being. “Would I have done that to my wife? I would.” He nodded. “I would have left her just to prove a point. She was illiterate and her skills were confined to serving me all her life. And I would have done anything to hurt her to get to my son.” The sun’s brief appearance was soon consumed by the ponderous clouds that gradually rolled in and layered the sky with pigmented hues of grey.

Julya Oui/Raindrops/5 “I think a thunderstorm is brewing.” A capricious zephyr passed between them and brushed the ends of their hems and hair. “Do you have to go?” The old man asked. The boy hesitated for a moment as he observed the old man’s peregrine eyes shifting from the garden to the sky. “I can stay for a while.” “That would be nice. Maybe you would like to tell me about yourself instead of listening to an old man’s jabber.” “It’s okay. I don’t mind. I’d like to know what happened to your son if you don’t mind sharing.” The old man stretched his lips as far as they would go but he could not retrieve a smile from the action. “You could say it was a beautiful wedding but everyone who was meant to be happy celebrated the saddest day of their lives.” The old man pictured the day his son surrendered himself to the suit that marked the beginning of a compromised life. “My wife … my late wife who was against the marriage was overwhelmed by the ruptures of her anger. But she took the 16 year old girl, Selena, into our home nevertheless. I expected everything to go well again from that point onward.” He tapped the boy’s hand with his arthritic fingers to make sure his message was clear. “When you try to tolerate something, or someone, there’s only so much you can contain. Just as I was tolerating my family they were doing the same with me. I often caught glimpses of laughter and communication among them but my presence usually killed the sounds of joy. When I took away everyone's

Julya Oui/Raindrops/6 happiness I took mine away as well. For the sake of protecting my own reputation and ego I exposed my family to unnecessary harm and injury. One by one, they left me. My son and his wife decided to stop living the lie I created for them and went their separate ways. My wife, Doris, lived with my son for a while until my remorse manifested itself in my poor health. I was reaping the maladies of my own propagation. “She came back to stay by my side but I still couldn’t bring myself to accept my son who was now living with his boyfriend. I thought with Doris around I could forget everything else and die with my ignorance. But Doris left me sooner than I wished. I was never man enough to love her more than I should have. She meant the world to me but I never once mentioned that to her. I loved the way she made everything seem so easy. I was the one who complicated them into conventions and customs. And when I lost her, I lost my son too. I didn’t bother to know where he was and I don’t know where he is now.” The old man took a deep breath and blew the words out in a faint whistle. “I am finally able to feel the very essence of beauty but now I have no one to share it with.” The boy listened intently to the weary chronicles of the old man’s life and he said. “I could come by every day.” The old man turned to the boy and smiled. “That is very kind of you but I will not impose my selfish wants on anyone anymore.” They sat quietly to hear the distant thunder approaching. The old man longing for the heavy downpour and the boy watching the old man’s eyes

Julya Oui/Raindrops/7 reflecting the menacing clouds. “Can I call you grandpa?” The old man dropped his shoulders and looked at the boy. “It would be an honour but you don’t have to do it to please me.” “Not even if I am your grandson?” The old man let go of his walking stick and it smacked onto the ground abruptly, flipping a few times before coming to a halt. “My-my grandson?” The boy picked up the stick and said. “I was adopted by your son and his life partner when I was a baby. I call one of my fathers dad and the other one Pa.” The old man started shaking and he reached for the boy’s hands to cling on to them while falling into pieces of emotional spasm. “Y-you’re really my grand-son?” “I would like to be, but … I am adopted.” “I don’t care where you came from. I am sorry Shaun. I am so so sorry to put you through this when we could all have had a better life. Please tell your fathers I am sorry. Will they ever forgive me?" "They've always been looking out for you grandpa, even when you were sent to this home. All the cookies and cakes that you liked so much were made by my dad, your son. They told me about you when I was old enough to understand and I decided to come and volunteer so that I could see you and get know you."

Julya Oui/Raindrops/8 "I know I don't have Alzheimer's and I’m not senile. But please tell me it’s not a dream Shaun. Please.” The old man shook the boy’s arm to make sure nothing would evaporate into thin air. "It's not a dream grandpa. I am here.” “I have so many questions. Do you think they’ll come and see me?” “Yes. They have been waiting for the right time to approach you.” “Now is a good time. Now is a good time Shaun. You must tell them I am not what I used to be.” The old man brushed his face against the sleeves of his sanitised shirt to clear his eyes from fogging up his view. “I know.” “And-and, and I love him. It took me a lifetime to realise that but it’s not too late is it?” “No it’s not. I’ll bring them over as soon as I can.” “Today? Can you bring them today?” “Maybe not grandpa. The storm’s coming and it’s getting late.” “Tomorrow then? Tomorrow?” “Okay grandpa, I will.” The boy heard a gentle reminder drum across the sky and he grasped the old man’s hands lovingly. “I think I better go before it rains.” “Yes, yes, of course. But remember to come back tomorrow Shaun. Remember to bring your fathers.” “I will.” The boy opened his arms and the old man fell into them and hung on to the boy’s warm shoulders. “I’ll be back grandpa. Don’t worry, I’ll be

Julya Oui/Raindrops/9 back.” The boy let go of the old man and ran off into the misting atmosphere. “Remember to come back tomorrow.” The old man called and the boy waved back before moving out of his field of vision. The impending storm ingested the light and darkened the vicinity quickly; bringing about the night at an unusual time. “Doris,” he whispered to the breeze that was gradually unveiling itself. “I’m getting back our son. And a son-in-law and a grandson.” He smiled uncontrollably and felt the coolness wash over him. “I know it’s been too long. I know I should have done better in the past. I just hope that it’s not too late.” “Mr. Bay, you better come inside.” A stern but polite voice interrupted his train of thoughts as she made an appearance in front of him. “You don’t want to catch a cold from the storm do you? What are you doing out here alone anyway?” “My grandson was here to visit me.” “Oh? Would you like to bring the conversation indoors?” The caregiver reached out to accompany the old man back inside. “He left just a while ago.” “Oh did he now? Come on, before the rain drenches us all.” "My grandson is going to bring my son to see me tomorrow." "Your son?” The caregiver paused for a moment while she looked at the old man for an explanation. “But do you remember saying your son died in a car accident a long time ago?"

Julya Oui/Raindrops/10 "What? No! I know what I said. That was when I disowned him. That was when I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. But it's okay now." "Alright Mr. Bay, whatever you say. We still have to go inside before the rain comes." "I’m not making this up!" The old man flailed his hands in protest. "It’s okay." The caregiver took his arm to calm him down. “It’s going to be okay.” "I’m not making this up Missy. I’m not senile. You believe me don’t you? Don’t you?" “Of course I do. But can we go in now? I have a lot of work to do.” An unexpected drizzle showered the garden at the same time a ray of light broke out of the clouds to create a curtain of golden dust. “Look Missy, look.” “Yes, yes, it’s beginning to rain. So let’s get warm and comfortable inside.” “You don’t understand. Look. They’re raindrops in the sun.” The old man propped himself up with the help of the cane and the nurse’s hand. “My son, Will, used to tell me that the only way you can see the beauty of rain is when the sun is shining through it. Do you see it?” “Now that you mention it,” the caregiver grinned at the dazzling sight. “It’s a good sign. I just know it’s a good sign.” The old man recalled that day he learned how to see the raindrops in the sun through his son’s eyes and his heart could not help but anticipate the exhilaration of the impending

Julya Oui/Raindrops/11 tempest.

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