Wednesday, June 29, 2011
“Have you ever shed tears before?” I asked.
“Are you just out of questions? Why did you ask that all of a sudden?” she said, laughing.
“No, I’m serious…”
“Well, yes, all humans cry, you know. Why did you ask?” There was curiosity in her voice.
“Does that make me inhuman then?”
“Huh?” She looked at me as if I was the only person she was seeing.
“I said, are tears important to be human?” I was not looking at her.
“Uhm, yes, tears help you wash the dirt away from your eyes. You see, I read in an article that people who cry often could maintain the twinkle in their eyes until they get old.” I know she was trying to lighten the atmosphere a bit.
“I don’t care about science or whatever. I want to know why tears are that important.”
“Why Caleb? Why these questions?”
“Why?” That’s the question I’ve been asking myself for years now. “Do I need to answer that?”
“Well, I don’t know why tears are invented, or why do people cry. Maybe to express emotions…”
“I see... Emotions.... You see, I’ve never cried my entire life. All these 19 years of existence and I never even shed a single tear.”
“You’re joking right? No human could sup…”
“NO! I’m saying the truth!”
A moment of deafening silence…
“So, you’ve never cried?”
“No… Sorry for shouting like that. I was just dead tired of people not believing anything I say…”
“I believe you Caleb, I do. It’s just that… How do you express it, you know, emotions?”
“I don’t express it. You could say I hide it. Suppress whatever I’m feeling. But you see, anger, sadness, despair, happiness, they all mean the same thing to me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I can’t distinguish these feelings from each other. These are what you call emotions, right?”
“Well, don’t you have emotions in your own world?”
“None. I was born and raised like any other person, but I was never taught of these things. I remember the time when I was a baby. I was hungry then, but no one knew. I wasn’t able to express my feelings. I waited for them. For them to notice me. But the next thing I knew, they were rushing me to the hospital.”
“But Caleb, emotions and feelings are not taught, they are innate. You know, like when you are hungry or thirsty as a baby, you cry. No one will teach you how to cry to get the attention of other people, you do it on your own.”
“But, I don’t know how. It’s hard.”
“Hard? You don’t force yourself to do them, it’s involuntary.”
It made me think. You are not forced to cry. You do it involuntarily. She sounded as if it was that easy.
“Maybe for you, but in my case, it was perfectly different.”
“I wish I were like you… You don’t need to worry about tears or anything like that. You know, I remember my grandfather beating my older brother for stealing something from our shop. He was crying so loudly that my grandpa got even more furious. He was shouting something like ‘Be a man! Don’t cry! Crying is just done by girls! No man is a weakling! You must be strong and crying is just for weak people!’ My brother tried to stop himself from crying, but he sobbed the whole time. Maybe, my grandpa was correct, and that just means that you are strong Caleb, that’s why you don’t easily cry…”
“Am I? Strong?” I sounded as if I don’t believe her. “But I was scolded many times before by my dad because I’m such a scaredy-cat. I can’t even walk alone in the dark, and for that, I always ended being beaten up by my father. I don’t actually feel scared, but I just stood there like nobody’s business.”
“But most of us are like that when we were little. I am also scared of the dark, and not just that, I am scared of snakes, lizards and rats! Now that you are already a man, I’m sure you've already outgrown your fears”
“Yes, I have.”
“See? So what’s there to worry about, accept it or not, you are such a strong guy! That’s why I love you!”
She gently hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. All that she had said wanted to make sense in my head but it never matched to anything I have known ever since I was born. No matter how I convince myself that I’m normal, I can’t seem to put the pieces together.
Then came the day I received a message from Max, Louise’s sister. I never felt this way before. Her voice was so full of what Louise called ‘sadness’.
She trembled as she spoke. Then she broke the news… Louise was dead, killed in a shootout. I don’t know how to react, but I felt odd inside. It was as if I’m finally feeling emotions that she was telling me before.
I guess I really have those feelings inside me, just locked up and kept hidden deep within. Or, I knew it existed, it was just that I wasn’t able to show it for I suppressed it.
I was meant to be strong for my family and that was what they thought of me. I must never show weakness. And I guess Louise was correct. In a way, I am strong, but I knew different. I was really weak. Weak not to be able to show what I really feel.
The telephone receiver slipped from my hands, and for the first time in my life, I let my emotions show. That day, I cried…