Sunday, May 01, 2011

A Confucian family

Dear diary
Mommy and daddy are squabbling again. Every 4-5 years, mommy can't stand it any more and throws a hissy fit at daddy's excesses. Daddy can be a bit of an a** at home, focused as he is on work but not taking as much time out to sayang us as we'd like. Whenever there's an argument, daddy can only say that he knows best... etc. He's really not very articulate at home.

Mommy feels especially indignant because daddy earns so much money, but our household sees so little of it. Parts of our house are falling to bits, but he only seems interested in fixing the bits that he feels most at home in first. Mommy is mad that daddy didn't take his housework seriously. He forgot to clean the drains, and they overflowed twice in 50 years. Also, some of our siblings are not so well-off because they have difficulty finding good jobs, but daddy doesn't see fit to take away the privileges of our more successful brothers and sisters to help them. After all, if we're so concerned for our needier brethren, then we should help them out of our own initiative and not let them depend on handouts from him all the time. Selfish man.

Another of mommy's pet peeves is that he makes us siblings who are working chip in to fund his many hare-brained investments which, as the stock market goes, you win some, you lose some. Daddy is such a dreamer, driving mommy nuts with his impossible schemes -- and though some of them actually do come true, they're exorbitantly expensive and guess who pays for them? Fortunately, for all our losses, we haven't broken the bank yet and our wins are still enough to keep us decently watered, fed and clothed and our house is still the envy of the neighbourhood.

And despite mommy's shrill insistence that we're all on the verge of poverty, most of us do earn enough money to occasionally splurge on mad things like good food, movies, expensive handbags, new cellphones, big-screen TVs and high-speed Internet access -- though we don't have all that much money to buy them without thinking it over a few times first. But it sure would be nice if we could just buy whatever we wanted like rich people, wouldn't it?

Daddy allows the neighbours' kids to drop in and visit, and sometimes they have sleepovers with us. Mommy doesn't like them very much because they aren't very well-behaved, they're dirty, smelly and poor and she feels that they are just sponging off our goodwill. She would chase them out of our house, if it were up to her. After all, Daddy's too busy at work all day, so who's going to clean up the mess they're making and stop them from snatching the spoons out of the babies' mouths?

Mommy can't help thinking like a housewife, always demanding for her money... now, complaining that daddy isn't helping out in the house 'cos he's spending too much time outside making crazy deals or cozying up to his buddies from around the world. She doesn't like how he can't discipline his children properly, like my bro, Mas, who has rage management issues. He threatened to break some of our nice home furnishings and hurt some of us because... well, we don't really know why. All daddy could do was to talk nicely to him but he ran away from home. Fortunately, because daddy's good friends with the neighbours, they helped to find Mas and bring him back. Now he is safely sitting in the corner until he has a change of attitude.

That's the one thing I worry about mommy. Daddy can be an indulgent, neglectful and fairly absent Asian father with terrible parenting skills. But mommy is quite insular, especially with her regard of our neighbours toward whom she is quite openly hostile. Left to her, I'm worried that she will throw our friends out (except the ones we can entice to do our housework for us) and not let us play outside either. Her view doesn't stretch beyond the four walls of our house, and her agenda doesn't extend towards maintaining good relations with our neighbours. But because our house is the envy of our neighbourhood, we're likely to become a target for people to throw rocks at, if we're going to act all uppity and unneighbourly towards them.

If we were self-sufficient and lived in the middle of nowhere, we can afford to be parochial; but we live and thrive because we have been able to maintain our relevance as the centre of everywhere. Even if we don't take the paranoid view that our neighbours are homicidal maniacs on a hair-trigger, the worst thing they can and probably will do is ignore us when we cease to interest them any further. Fact is, we depend on the goodwill of our neighbours for even our basic necessities. Let's see how quickly we turn to cannibalism once our household supplies run out.

With daddy looking out and mommy looking in, both become total jerks around this time. Fortunately, our family has rules about quarrels of this sort. Mommy and daddy will rage at each other, call each other names and try to sway their children to support one or the other through threats, bribes or pure undiluted vitriol. But once the haranguing on both sides reaches its apex, it stops. Everything calms down again and life goes on.

2 comments:

masterofboots said...

this is a perfect parable of our current times :P well done:)

Elim said...

So true!!!