[Edit: This piece of prose was previously shared on my other site as an experimental piece. Despite it being unceremoniously labeled as a “huh is this fanfiction”, I’ve decided to merge the content since this blog is all about me jkjk, but because I’m bolstered by the love I’ve received for my previous words. No idea how to port this from the other page so here goes, for the 2nd time, a piece inspired by my character study of Lucille and themes.]
I had to study Housekeeping in detail and I have always hated Lucille. One day, after my nth time of reading Housekeeping, I realised why I hated her so. I always believed biological relations to trump all, that this form of kinship could never be severed and that surely anyone who forsook family was mad. Trying to understand Lucille, to offer another perspective to Housekeeping also helped me to cope with my own questions of realities I observed. Housekeeping is a book I have grown to love very much and I hope that this short narrative would be intriguing enough to motivate you to google about the book, or head to the nearest library.
“Families will not be broken. Curse and expel them, send their children wandering, drown them in floods and fires, and old women will make songs of all these sorrows and sit on the porch and sing them on mild evenings.”
― Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
||On one hand, they left me. They didn’t take the olive branch I tried to extend. They were not affected by the ultimatum I set. I think Ruth hated me, she was utterly betrayed by my actions. Then again, what was I to do? I just wanted a stab at normal life. Not a life wracked by distrust and uncertainty that anyone would stop loving me. Grandma left, then again, she never loved us. We were just substitutes to take in all the love she couldn’t give. Lily & Nona were only concerned about themselves. Aunt Sylvie, I thought she’d be different. I thought she’d be like Mama. When she first arrived, I was so desperate to hold on to her. I was so afraid that she would decide that a house was more important than us. I feared that she would decide that she couldn’t love us. I was afraid that she would simply leave, leave us behind. I feared that she’d be like Mama. Mama left and never came back. Then I realised, Mama never loved us either. She did what was best for herself, and left us at a house she was not happy in.
Suicide is an abandonment, a betrayal. One life wasn’t lost that day. Three lives were – Mama’s, Ruth’s, and mine. Our lives were irrevocably changed and we became orphans. There was no one who loved us, no one who called our names, no one who was there for us. It was just Ruth and I for awhile, treading through the solitude, trying to make sense of this cold world. We lay in the cold, hoping that it’d be in the pictures. Where there would be a grand search party, complete with hounds. All stops pulled out to find two missing girls.
I cried myself to sleep that night when I realised the truth – no one was coming. Was it something wrong with me? Was I unlikable, was it something I did, something I said. It is so painful to have to second-guess yourself each day. It is painful to have to believe that you are unworthy of love. It kills you to have to consider that your best efforts are for naught and that you could be fundamentally unlovable. I think Ruth was satisfied with only having me. I wasn’t. I wanted more. I wanted to be accepted. I had the chance to be loved, to be showered with the love that should have been given from the start. I took it. Thinking back, I still would not change a thing. I craved and needed this love. While this is foolish devotion, I’d take it any day, over the painful uncertainty I had to live through. The nights when I stayed up, praying and praying so fervently that Sylvie would not leave. When I left, they tried. Sylvie tried to be…be Normal. She tried her best to be a member of the community, to charm the ladies she did not care for. She tried her best to keep herself in the house at all times to provide a constant presence.
I should have been happy. It should have been enough that she was trying. I broke down again that day, when I realised that perhaps my notions of love had been wrong all along. Maybe, to love someone could also mean that we had to be apart. At that moment, I realised that, we were all better off apart from each other. I would never be truly happy, if I had to live with a suppressed Sylvie & Ruth. They belonged to the world. It was not their place to be shackled to Fingerbone, to lose a part of themselves all the nights when they could not venture out in the darkness. It wasn’t an entirely noble decision. I considered my interests as well. As much as I loved them, it was the best for us to let go and thrive where we are needed, where we sought to be. Love was letting go, loving the person enough to let her do what she loves. Loving another is doing what is best for another.
First and foremost, before our duties as a kin, as a friend, as a lover, our duty should be to ourselves. We can only give and take so much love unless we love ourselves unconditionally. My duty to myself propelled me to let go. To let go of the whole institution of family, and build one of my own. Subsequently, I left, left the whole house.
I created my community in Boston, away from Fingerbone, away from the memories. Ruth and Sylvie would probably never be able to understand my rationale and motivations, just like I did not understand theirs. It is alright. We did not have to understand each other to know that we had to do what we did. More importantly, I was happy. I did no’t want the conflict to repeat. I chose to cover my tracks so that they would never find me. So that I could be remembered fondly. For Ruth and I, we can only be a part of each other when we are apart. If I do happen to run into Ruth one day, preferably when I am about to leave this earth, I’d tell her that I’ve always loved her. I was sorry I left when I was the only person she had. But I loved her all the same. I loved her. ||