The international terminal of Tan Son Nhat airport was full of people seeing-off and picking-up. Standing in that hustling and bustling crowd, people caught sight of a couple also anxiously seeing-off their thirteen or fourteen-year-old daughter to study abroad. The woman hugged the little girl with sorrowful tears, seemingly not wanting to have this separation at all. She embraced the girl tightly and lovingly said, “Go with your auntie, you have to try to be obedient and study hard!”
Her choked voice might touch anyone’s heart, as if she did not want to leave her little daughter at all.
The little girl also hugged the mother tightly and burying her head in the mother’s lap. Even though she’s still teen-age, she probably carries dominant gene of her father, she is almost as tall as her mother. If skipping looking at the face, people would think they were just two sisters instead of the mother and the daughter.
Van hugged her mother’s neck and cooed, “Mom, stay here and try to be healthy. Please don’t miss me too much. When I have summer vacation, I will definitely come back and see mom.”
Next, she turned back to hold her father’s hand and admonished continuously, “Dad, remember to take care of my mom on behalf of me please. Without me at home, you two must love and care each other more and more. Mom is also afraid of sleeping alone. Next time, you should not be on night duty anymore, Dad. At home at midnight, no one is with mom, she won’t be able to sleep. Dad, remember please.”
The little girl pouted, “Dad can’t bully my beloved mom, either. If I know that you make her cry, I will not look at your face, will not love you anymore.”
The little girl said and then took her father’s hand and placed on her mother’s one. The hustle, bustle and hurry with moment of the separation, the little girl did not feel the forced atmosphere between her parents. When the little girl put her father’s hand on her mother’s one, the mother trembled according to a conditional reflex. For a long time, the couple has been living together as two friends only, maybe not really as close as the friends. They only maintained the fake image of the model couple just because of their little daughter.
After all, Van is still lucky because her parents really love and cherish her. In order to maintain a complete family for her, her father and mother have tried to endure each other for many years. They are like sharing same bed but different dreams. They are just living under the same roof but everything else is separate. Outsiders still see the image of a happy family, successful parents, good children, only the couple know how hard they have been trying to keep their daughter in peace.
And right now, they are also trying to show the image of the painful couple who can not bear to leave their little daughter. Especially for the mother, she does not know if she will be able to overcome missing her little daughter in the coming years or not. Until now, Van is everything to her. Marriage is not happy, her joy is all from this little daughter.
The past years are just series of sad memories. All her feelings and thoughts are devoted to her daughter. She and her husband are like sharing the same place of residence, but it’s not, it should be said that she is living in his house.
Marriage with love, they have ever been happy for the first five years. Then next years, the hard life killed his romance. Though she was still same as before, a woman was whole-hearted for her husband and the daughter, suffering and sacrificing, he was no longer tolerant and patient enough to feel her good qualities. He also gradually forgot the deep love and peaceful, beautiful memories of both of them in the past.
Life pressure, living expenses, professional improvement and busy days at hospital made him extremely tired, no longer loving or give gentle words to his wife and no longer appreciating the precious moments with his wife and daughter as well.
His patience was worn down from the hardships of life. He always showed his attitude to his wife while she did nothing wrong with him. Gradually, she crawled into her own shell, living quietly with her daughter, no longer needing to share with her husband.
He still came home after work but always felt suffocated with the family atmosphere. Then, as a rule of life, this man found new joy with his younger nurse colleague pampering and idolizing him, far different from the silent wife like the shadow beside him.
Fortunately, he still considers his daughter as the most precious gift God has given him, so he has not broken up his family yet. The initial rift was just silence, then his gradual coldness and finally formed the immense distance between both of them as it is now.
Because of their love for the daughter, the two agreed to keep her a perfect life full of both parents. Wait until Van goes abroad to study, they will end this boring marriage.
Now, the right time comes and soon they will be nothing for each other. He will be with the lady he loves and she will be herself again. They will separate like two strangers.
“Don’t cry anymore. If you miss her, you can visit her any time.” Her sister, Linh advised.
Linh knows that the daughter is everything to her sister. Over the years, she had struggles to this moment thanks to the daughter. Now, her only joy is about to leave, indeed Linh can understand how her sister can not bear this. If it were not for the daughter’s future, her sister probably would not have let her go.
Her life up to this moment can be said to be nothing more precious. Her parents passed away and her sister settled down with her husband in a far away place. Her sole daughter is also about to study abroad, leaving her with extreme loneliness. There will be no more relatives by her side.
Her property is nothing. During the years of marriage, she spent her youth and money for her family. Now, it’s just empty handed in return. Youth has also been buried in the painful past.
Therefore, Linh thinks that women should not be like her sister, Lam. Why sacrificing your life for the marriage and exchanging for betrayal? Two-thirds of the life is clearly just tears and suffering. If Linh were her sister, she would not stupidly maintain this unhappy marriage. But who tells she has the sister who is too gentle. She dares to bet that if time could be turned back, Lam would still choose this man and spend her whole life for him.
When life was difficult, this man was still Lam’s husband. And now, after being successful, more affluent, he is about to be someone’s husband. What could be more ironic and tragic than her sister’s plight?
However, with other women, she will probably hate and torment, but with her sister, a unreasonably gentle woman who might make fairies also feel bad for her. She accepted to leave without a word of reproach or hatred.
“Please take care of Van for me. Consider her as your daughter. If she’s disobedient or not focusing, you can scold her but please be forgiving with her.” Lam wept bitterly and gave her daughter to Linh.
“Why did you say so? She is my niece, she calls me auntie, still need you to beg me? My husband and me do not have any daughter, I will treat little Van as my daughter. Don’t worry, you also have to take care of yourself here, love yourself a little.” Linh wiped her sister’s tears.
She did not want to mention her nominal brother-in-law. For her, this man would soon no longer have any ties to her sister and then she would also become a stranger to him. He will eventually have a new family, only poor sister Lam.
It seemed that he also felt the hostility of this nominal sister-in-law, but now, she did not matter to him. Even the wife with fifteen years under the same roof also is going to become the stranger, there is no meaning to the wife’s sisters. Just now looking at the wife, suddenly he feels full of regrets.
It has been a long time since the last time when he was close to her. Although the two share the same roof, they both have their own space. After coming home from school, she will be silent at some corner. She teaches her daughter and plays with her. He also has his other joys. He could not remember the last time he faced to her and heard her explanation and discussion.
He is not statue which can’t feel how sad she will be when the daughter goes to United States. Even he is not so close to his daughter, but he is still heartbroken and depressed. How painful would a person who always accompanies the daughter as Lam be? Looking at her now, he feels pity in his heart. And then he could not help but blurt out, “Calm down! She just goes to study abroad and will come back. Whenever you miss her, you can visit. Don’t be so sad that the little daughter can’t bear to leave.”
“Mom, please stop crying. I loves you most. Mom keeps crying and making me not want to go to America with Aunt Linh at all.” The daughter continued to comfort her mother.
Lam hurriedly hugged her daughter and sobbed, “Van has to learn, that’s your future. I promise not to cry anymore. Van obeys Aunt Linh, lives in harmony with cousins Bi and Bin. Also, you have to listen to uncle-in-law Trang, don’t be stubborn.”
“Mon, I remember everything you told me. I will be fine.” Saying that, she bursts into tears, making her mom pitiful.
He also tried to control himself but the corners of his eyes were still stinging. He stood next to his wife, stroked his daughter’s hair and advised, “My daughter, try to study well. Whenever you miss home, just give me a call. I will miss you everyday.”
He wrapped his arms around his daughter. She also hugged her father tightly with one hand. The other hand wrapped around her mother’s back, the family of three persons seemed like an inseparable block. At this moment, the separation of the couple is temporarily non-existent, in front of them only the nostalgia of leaving their little daughter.
“There is less time for the plane to take off, we should step in or we will be late. You say goodbye to your parents and follow me.” Linh held her niece’s hand and urged.
The mother heard the daughter about to fly, she trembled again. The husband beside could feel her panic.
“Goodbye Mom and Dad! Van loves you two very much. I will miss you every day.” Van rushed into her parents’ arms, hugged and kissed for the last time.
“I will miss you, Van, my dearest daughter.” The mother’s voice was choked, cracked with anguish.
Van waved goodbye to her parents, then followed her auntie into the quarantine area. Lam seemed to have nothing left to cling to, a heart-broken sadness immediately came. Every nook of her face was broken and tattered.
He could not bear it, and then like a deep instinct, he suddenly hugged her in his embrace, patted her back gently, “Don’t be like that, crying much will damage your health. Time passes very fast and our daughter will come back soon.”
She still buried her head deep in his chest crying quietly. It took a long time when she calmed down, she suddenly realized that she was so emotional that she instinctively relied on him. She no longer has the right to rely on this man. He will have another family, there will be no more years of mutually suffering. She pulled herself out of his arms, making him suddenly feel empty in his chest. An awkward atmosphere crept between both persons.
“Sorry I was so emotional, I made your shirt dirty.” Her voice was apologetic.
“It’s okay. Are you fine now?” He was also very gentle.
She nodded as if she did not want him to pay much attention to her, “Let’s go back now.”
Honestly, she does not even have energy to maintain anymore. She just wants to hide in her own corner to cry freely, gnawing the loneliness when her daughter was gone. From now on, there will be no one beside her every day to let her forget sad life.
“You are here waiting for me to get the car. You’re tired, don’t move anymore. I’ll drive over soon.”These might be the first words of concern he has given her since the past five years. It has been so long, so long that she has almost forgotten his voice. His concern for the family was just a luxury item that she couldn’t afford, so she gave up long time ago.