Originally Published April 28, 2012
This one I’ve been meaning to write for a long time as my son knows very little about his father. It’s been more than 10 years since we last saw him. I believe I owe my son this post. He’s 20 now and perhaps, if he’d come across this piece in the near future, he’d already have acquired more awareness of life’s complexities and thus be able to understand what happened in our past.
My son and I never talked much about the man who was once a huge part of our lives. Vague and hazy memories are all he’s got. We reckon we’ve got more important things to do than talk about the man who extricated himself and took the easy way out by totally disappearing in our lives. Nonetheless, I believe he deserves to know a few things about his Dad and our history together as a couple.
Fine memories I keep hold of as to the man I married and loved for ten years. We met at work when I was still hacking it out in the accounting department of Data General Philippines. Quiet and reserved. Practical minded. Unassuming. Passionate and sweet. That’s my ex-husband, whose nature isn’t different from the timid ardent soul that I am. Somewhere between our 20s and silly eccentricities we fell in love.
In hindsight, there hasn’t been any other who loved me as much. Nothing, before or after, could outburn the flame of romance we’d had. I remember the many heady days when he’d suddenly turn up just to ask me for a simple stroll around the neighborhood hand in hand. There was this one morning during our leanest financial days when we met outside my parents’ house out of impulse, I told him I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet and was feeling hungry. Worried, he searched for the last remaining cash inside his wallet so he could buy me pieces of bread to munch on. Hence the satisfying taste of the bread got to be unforgettable from such display of caring.
He could cook and was the one who whipped up our meals (I never liked cooking), and he took loving care of me the times that I got sick.
We’d also hang around till late at night inside the mall waiting for the clerk stationed outside to go home — running and sneaking inside thereafter, giggling all the way, to watch a movie for free.
And every weekend we would meet at his sister’s rest house, located in a peaceful suburban village, and spend the whole day basking in the glow of our love for each other.
Heady times, indeed …
Months on end of passion until one day I mysteriously got ill — which aggregated to high fever for a couple of days, some vomiting and just feeling terrible.
My bothered sister asked pointblank, “Are you pregnant?”
“Of course not!” was my quick and bewildered reply. The probability hadn’t entered my mind — although I immediately rushed to him and together we went to the nearest maternity hospital for a test.
Result: Positive. OMG… We’d been careful, hadn’t we? How could it have happened?
We weren’t ready for anything yet like parenthood and responsibility. We weren’t even sure we were truly right for each other.
In the end, we decided to have the baby and got married in a civil ceremony. The officer who performed the rites joked about my husband’s cold palms after they shook hands. His brother and aunt served as witnesses. By the way, the man whom I married belonged to another religion — a highly tribal one at that. It didn’t occur to either of us then how that would factor heavily in the eventual disintegration of our marriage.
I am a Catholic, though not a practicing one. His family had been generations-long members of the second most powerful religion in our country that has been considered quite clannish by many. They had repeatedly asked me to join their Church. All I managed to do was attend and sit out at some worship services and that was it. I couldn’t possibly bring myself to do or join anything that doesn’t feel natural for me.
In the course of time, he managed to make one thing quite clear: his mother and siblings would always come first. My son and I could only come second. He reasoned they needed him more. I guess he inferred his immediate family was more of a sure thing in his twilight years than my son and I combined. He could have also realized I was capable of bringing up our child on my own. That fact apparently granted him the audacity to pursue his own goals that don’t include his wife and only child.
He worked in the Middle East intermittently as a contractual electrical engineer. But everything he earned went to his family, that is, his mom and siblings. I’ve always been capable of earning my own money so I hardly asked for his share. Still, I got increasingly frustrated that he didn’t make any attempt to pitch in. How come I failed to detect these ominous elements earlier in our relationship?
As time went by, our stark differences took a more profound shape, too. It’s like we each belonged to disparate worlds. Our dissimilarities in choice of leisure activities became more pronounced. He branded my tastes in TV programs, movies, reading and music as being uppity and was never able to relate much to the literary leanings I had had.
He had wanted me to share in the glee as to the things that gave him amusement. I tried but couldn’t be genuinely upbeat about them. A huge stone of discontent came to lodge as it slowly dawned on both of us how different our preferences were in many ways.
Admittedly, I’m not that much of a wife material. I might have been the wife that made sense only on paper but not from day to day in its domestic essence.
To his credit, he had been faithful in the years we were together as husband and wife — I never had to confront or grapple with a skirt-chasing husband.
Before our marriage completely came unglued, we got to see less and less of him until he drifted away for good. There was not even a final farewell from him.
That was a little more than ten years ago, when my son was barely 10 years old.
My son’s idiosyncrasies and occasional flash of outburst now is sometimes reminiscent of the man I once loved. Whenever that happens, I can’t help but go “Oh, it’s his father alright” inside my mind.
This is my side of the story. My ex-husband’s side will never come to light because I have a feeling we’ll never see him again. Whatever reasons he might have had for his unconscionable deed of turning his back on his son carry no weight upon me anymore. Besides, we’ve fared just fine.
Maybe he’s in a very far away land now or, for all I know, he may already be in another dimension. There’s a chance I will never get to know for sure and frankly, I’m fine with that.
And so is my son it seems.