Part XI: Problems
Gale stormed in through the front door of his parents’ home.
It was a public holiday that day and so, his father was home, seated comfortably in an armchair with a newspaper hiding his face. He could hear his mother in the kitchen.
His father looked up from his paper. Seeing that it was only his son, he set the paper aside to stand up and give him a hug.
“My word, Gale, neither your mother nor I expected you here this early in the morning! What’s wrong, my son?”
“It’s Anna, Father!” he raged, as his father made him sit on a sofa beside the armchair.
“Oh?” said the elderly man, walking towards the kitchen. “Gale’s here!” he called to his wife.
“I’m coming!” Gale could hear his mother responding. Soon enough, she joined the two men in the living-room.
“So, son,” she said, wiping her hands on the apron she had around her neck. “How’s your married life going?”
“Horrible!” cried Gale in anger. When he looked up, he saw his parents exchanging calm, knowing glances. “She doesn’t understand me at all! I am only requesting that we start a family soon…is that too much to ask?! Mother, what do you think?!” Even as he said this, his heart was breaking painfully by the minute, sweat breaking out without his consent.
“Well,” his mother responded, “I think I need to know what dear Anna’s reply was, before I make any judgments on the matter.”
Gale inhaled deeply and said, “Yes, I suppose that’s only fair. Well, she says she’s not ready.”
“Then, yes,” his mother nodded her head. “You don’t know the kind of additional labour we women have to go through when we’re carrying – for nine whole months! And carry on our daily chores!” She stared at her son in the eye. “Do you honestly think that it’s such an easy task, child?”
Gale lowered his eyes as realising dawned upon him. “Yes, I suppose that’s right, Mother,” he murmured in a subdued tone of voice. “It can’t be very easy.”
“No, it isn’t,” his mother agreed with the ghost of a smile on her face. “Therefore, in order to start a family, the girl must be physically and mentally prepared to host a new creature that she and her husband create together.”
Gale was silence for a moment, trying to comprehend all this. Then, he looked up with a guilty smile.
“Yes, Mother, I understand now. I suppose I mustn’t be too hasty…so childish of me… Geez…!”
“Just remember this, son,” his father spoke up: “in a relationship, there will be problems and downfalls. It will be the task of the participants to work out their problems for themselves. Of course, they can always take help from the more experienced, but my point is that such problems as you and Anna are facing now are common and nothing to be so worked up about.
“At the same time, do not take hasty decisions and simply give up.”
“Yes, Father,” said Gale, humbly.
“Where’s poor Anna now, though?” asked his mother.
“Mama, Gale left me!” Anna cried into her mother’s shoulder, tears pouring torrentially from her eyes. She did not bother to wipe them away. “And it’s all my fault!”
Her mother, standing on the patio with a hose in hand [in fact, she was in the middle of watering the garden], tried her best to pat her head in an attempt at pacification.
Fortunately for her, Annalise’s father came out just then and, taking in the scene in front of him, swiftly moved to take the hose from his wife.
“Anna dear,” her mother cooed, “what is it? Why do you think Gale left you?”
“I don’t know!” wept Annalise. “I mean, I do know… I just…said that I wasn’t ready to start a family! He got angry at that and tried to argue with me and then – he left!!”
Annalise’s father patted her on the head. “Now, now, child, stop crying. Please.”
The young wife gently pulled away from her mother’s grip and wiped her eyes. “Yes, Papa?”
“Sit down, first,” her mother instructed her, gesturing to one of the patio chairs. She gladly obeyed.
Her father sat down opposite her. He stared at his grown up daughter for a bit, taking in each detail: her red-rimmed eyes, her swollen cheeks, her red nose…she looked as if her heart had been ripped right out of her chest.
He sighed. “Look here,” he began, “these kinds of quarrels are very common in relationships, especially with newly-weds.” He glanced at his wife, who smiled ruefully back at him.
“You have a live example right here,” she told her daughter. “Therefore, you’re not alone.” She winked at her.
Annalise giggled. “All right…although I really can’t imagine you and Papa fighting – or even disagreeing on anything!”
“Well then, you certainly do not remember your childhood much!” Her mother chuckled.
“Remember, child,” her father added soberly, “this is only the beginning…you’ll have more such disagreements in the future!”
Annalise’s eyes widened in astonishment. “Oh no, no,” she whispered, “I won’t be able to take it, then…I just can’t live without Gale!”
“Who said you ever would?!”
Annalise’s heart skipped a beat at the sound of the familiar voice…something she had been hearing the past two weeks that filled her entire essence with a sense of utmost delight…
She stood up and turned around to see her husband waiting for her…