I smile easily. I smile a lot. And last year has been full of smiles.
When Mama informed me that she was planning to work in Singapore for a while, I smiled. It was brilliant, the way she went about it. She actually found a well paying job and managed to procure a work-visa. She told her friends and family that since I'd left for college, she needed something to occupy herself with. She even convinced Papa by showing him the kind of money that she was going to make for us. I don't even need to go into the details. It was that perfectly planned out.
When Papa called me in the middle of the night (a few months after she'd left) and sobbed into the phone because he'd found out about her affair, I smiled. How he'd found out, I didn't know and didn't care. I just knew that all his drunken claims of never having stopped loving her, and his disbelief at her actions, didn't matter to me at all. I put the phone on mute from my side and went to bed, smiling with the knowledge that he was still moaning and crying on the other end. He was too drunk to realize anything, anyway.
When he tried to humiliate Mama in front of me by claiming that she was a selfish mother who had destroyed all possible marital prospects for me by "whoring around", I smiled. I smiled and let him know that he had made the mistake of making three assumptions:
That I needed to be married to be happy. That marital prospects actually mattered. All anyone had to do was look at was my parents' marriage itself to know that marriage promises neither happiness, nor success.
That people cared about what my mother/parents did. If they did, then his alcohol addiction was enough to drive "prospective grooms" away from me.
That I cared. If I did, then I would have tried to stop her from going to Singapore in the first place. It came as a shock to them when they found out that I knew all along and didn't give two shits about any of this.
All this was after he had actually traveled all the way to Singapore to drag Mama back. I assume he told her the same cock and bull story about how her selfishness would result in a bad future for me. I'm sure he blackmailed her into sacrificing her own happiness for my sake. I made it crystal clear to both of them that I didn't care and that we didn't have to go on pretending to be a normal family. I asked them to get a divorce and lead separate lives because I no longer needed them to stick around for my sake alone. I asked Mama to go back to her job and her lover in Singapore and be happy for once in her life. I said all kinds of rational and sensible things that evening.
But when Mama decided to stay on for my sake, for society's sake, for the sake of a good marriage alliance for me, she finally managed to wipe that smile off my face. My smile was an armor that I wore with pride. And that smile was gone with my mother's decision to punish herself "for her daughter's sake".
Two life-changing decisions were made on that day. One, that I would never marry, as I had lost all faith in the institution itself. And two, that I had to break up with my boyfriend of 3 years who tried to reason with me that my support for my mother during these difficult times was a sign that I was capable of being unfaithful, myself.
I don't know how long before I start shooting people in the face for their stupidity. I need to get a shotgun.