Filial and piety
Filial and Piety
He wished for some Earl today.
Matthew had already woken up, grinning at the ceiling. June’s breeze felt mild and gentle. It seemed as if the skies had given him one more day to live on this planet. However Matthew knew his days were numbered, he could feel it in his bones.
It’s not that he was suffering from anything bad, just arthritis at an old age. At eighty three, Matthew was lonely. His wife had left him six years ago while his children never visited him, except for Emil. His sore body rendered him to slowly inch his way up, this was not a good day.
Matthew groaned and shivered as the pain reminded the man his age. He looked at himself in the mirror, at least he aged well. Never had he smoked those vile sticks ever and he drinks sparingly. His eyes shrunken and uninterested while his skin fair and loose with strong definition of wrinkles. His beard clung on to dear life around his face. He didn’t even bother to brush; taking his dentures soaked in a solution, lethargically sending it into his mouth. He frowned at the horrible taste.
Always independent ever since he was young, he worked as a repairman all his life. He would go back home every day, sit on his comforter and read the paper. Now that he retired, Matthew never wanted to bother anyone. This was also the reason why he chose to live on his own without his children. The man remembered all his sons coldly, they were all useless.
His eldest son Andrew, the shameless one. Has been apprehended by the police once again. He would be hanged on august with first degree manslaughter. He never learnt his lesson even when he’s sixty.
His second, Bentley. He was a reckless and stupid person. Died before he reached twenty five, serving the god damned army.
His third son Carter; the henpecked one; he’s always crawling under his wife’s shadow; everyone treated him like a big joke.
His fourth son Derrick was just as bad. At fifty one and of all the job vocations out there, he became a politician. But, no matter how much of a good loyal patriot he was to the country, all politicians are bad in Matthew’s eyes. And his yes-man of a son didn’t fare better.
And then there was his youngest. Emil was working as a gay porn actor at the age of twenty to pay off his student loans.
Matthew took his time to walk to the kitchen, pouring boiled water into a cup and tearing open a satchel of oats to mix it all up. He kept stirring, his sullen face hung on. The cup shook from his hands while he took his time to gulp it down. The nice blend of sweetness and fiber was all he needed for the day. And then he remembered his jar of Earl Grey.
God damn it!
The man wore his clothes, the usual ones. His white primp shirt altogether with his olive green waist high pants. He proceeded to sit on his armchair as the lingering quietness hung in the room. The soft plump comforter soothed his body from the strain and he slept again.
The doorbell rang twice, slowly bringing Matthew back to life. He groaned, realizing the sickly warmth around his waist. He called out to the door announcing his presence, it was his youngest son. With open arms, both father and child embraced each other and Matthew welcomed him in. Emil was working long hours as a foreman, while he took care of his father as much as possible. But he never complained.
But Emil was also a dowdy man. Forty eight and still single, his complexion pale and gauntly with skin dry and loose with scars. The dark spots all over his body continued to haunt him until now as no woman would ever want to date him. Syphilis, as he had been infected when he was twenty one. Fortunately he sought treatment before it got any worse, he was lucky to an extent.
“Dad.” Emil asked him.
“I could handle this myself, go make some tea.” Matthew said, before he snapped at him with a series of coughing fits.
“Just let me help dad, it’s faster.” His son replied, guiding his father into the bedroom.
“All right, thank you.” Matthew said.
Back when Matthew threw twenty year old Emil out of the house, there were no arguments, no pleas for forgiveness. All the boy had was his guilt stricken face to accompany him.
“Don’t you ever come back!” he barked at his son, slamming the door behind him. As Matthew stood behind the door, he knew his Emil wouldn’t even try. The modest and kind-hearted kid he knew would be gone forever. His tears fell as he blamed them on his gay son.
That was the only time when Lydia was at her angriest. She pounded away at Matthew’s chest, screaming at him for being heartless. Her wrath continued, cursing herself the inability to birth any daughters. By then she had ran out to find her Emil, but he was gone and she was inconsolable for weeks.
Although Lydia was back to her usual kind and jovial self, this was the only thing she couldn’t forgive Matthew for. Her feelings shifted every time Emil was mentioned.
The years burned away, one by one his children started to leave home, growing distant from each other. The sadness in him grew, forever eating into him. Eventually Lydia succumbed to liver cancer at the age of seventy seven and everyone was gone from his life.
But on the day of her funeral, Emil showed up.
“She is still my mother.” He grimaced, and both father and son hugged.
“Your mum, she’s.” Matthew mumbled under the embrace.
“I know dad. I regretted not having the guts to return home, even before I knew that mum was sick. I didn’t come back because of you, I am so sorry.” Emil admitted and teared. Matthew stared at him, his silly youngest son.
“I am at fault for chasing you away those years ago. Now I realized how stupid this all was. Could you forgive me?” Matthew whimpered.
It seemed Matthew had wronged the youngest, he was still the same old Emil after all these years and he was touched. His son’s past didn’t matter anymore. Emil would visit him whenever he could and they would talk, usually about life and its deeper meanings. It doesn’t matter whether Emil was still single whatsoever, he was the only filial one.
Emil laid a bunch of towels onto Matthew’s bed and rested his father on it, stripping away his pants to remove the soiled diaper.
“I had a date the other day, she’s forty two and a divorcee of two kids. It turned out well and I think we did all right.” Emil said while cleaning around his father’s flaccid penis. Matthew gazed at him with gloom.
“Is she okay about it, and about you?” Matthew asked while rolling onto his stomach for Emil to clean his rear. The conversation lingered in dead silence while the wall fan whistled.
“I’ve already explained myself to her prior to the date and she’s really fine with me. I could tell.” Emil eventually said.
“You could tell and that’s your assumption.” Matthew replied, lifting his butt up for Emil to cloth him with a fresh new diaper. The conversation lingered on again in silence. Emil slotted back a pair of new pants.
“She’ll end up like the others.” Matthew commented, promptly rolling to his side. And that was it. Emil sighed, leaving his father to do the laundry.
That faggot. Matthew took a long deep breath and grumped. His eyes closed for a while before he dozed off.
Emil made and served the drinks after his chores around the house. Matthew inched his way up in bed. He drained half of the hot earl grey and set in on the end table. It was too sweet for his liking.
They talked a lot about anything under the sun. Emil got a promotion at work and Matthew congratulated him. They reminisced about the past and laughed at present events. They even discussed about them visiting the eldest at the county prison a few days ago. Matthew sighed as nothing could help him now. The obsession of being filial and dear to his father led his Andrew through the path of a criminal. Gangs, drug money, loan-sharking, being a hitman, Andrew did it all to provide for his poor family. He did what he was best at and it was his way to show love for his father and fellow brothers. That shameless filial one, he was Matthew’s favorite.
“It’s soon going to be you, Derrick and Carter left. You boys really need to stick together.” Matthew sighed.
“It’s hard, they never listen to me.”
“You still need to try. Have you told Derrick to visit Andrew?” Matthew asked while Emil sipped on his own cup.
“Rick said he was busy with work and there’s no time for him to do it now.” Emil stuttered. Matthew nodded.
“Everyone’s busy with their lives, that’s not an excuse.”
“Well the city elections are coming up and he’s preparing for the recent cabinet meetings.”
”I see, I shall not blame him then.” Matthew commented. There was a time when young Derrick looked at his eldest brother with the highest regard. “How about Carter?” He asked.
“He’s moving house again, I think. To a smaller estate. That’s what he said.” Frank pondered.
“And? What does that have to do with him not visiting his brother?” He asked, confused.
“He’s busy I guess, with the kids and the business.”
“Was it his wife’s decision again?” Matthew asked again while Emil shrugged. “Worthless boy.” The old man grumbled and rolled back to the side, shutting his eyes. And that was it. Carter’s own son would fail in life, just like how he failed him.
Matthew slowly remembered the days when all his children were around him. Unburdened and unmolded by the harsh society around them. The younger days were the best. His Andrew, wanting to be rich and inspirational. His Bentley, obsessed with toy guns. His Carter, wanting to be a chef. His Derrick, an aspiring freedom fighter. And his Emil, who wanted to be like his father. He always wanted a big and happy family and he got half of that dream.
Emil nudged him, he had to leave him for work soon. Matthew got up and showed him the way out. Both father and son hugged by the door
“You’ll convince them both to visit Andrew?” Matthew said.
“I will try” Emil yawned.
“Must.” Matthew whispered with words that bored into Emil. But the old man soon managed a smile to brighten up his son, patting him on the shoulders.
“I’ll be fine now, best wishes Emil.” The old man said to his son while he closed the door behind him.
Matthew laid back on his bed which started another round of coughing fits, each cough getting worse than before. He stared at the ceiling and grimaced. The burdens of cowardice, egotism and meekness, a heavy Matthew grew tired. His sons and their idiotic father.
He continued to sleep till nightfall…
He continued to sleep on to the next day…
And the next day…
And the next day…
He was still sleeping when Emil rang the doorbell…
He was still sleeping when the paramedics arrive…
He was still sleeping when all his other sons came to see him. Crying and apologizing to the old man…
He was still sleeping, grinning like a little child…
Matthew woke up. He rose to find a woman by his side. He was happy.