I really haven’t encountered scary things in my life, and now I feel that my life is strangely inadequate in this aspect. Probably many people are like me in this way, and probably this is why many people like Halloween, just to be scared once a year, to have the experience of fear and the adrenaline rush. My life is rather uneventful. If I’ve ever met a bear or jaguar or coyote or wolf or tiger, that’s in a zoo somewhere.
When I was young, my family went to the local zoo once every year and to this day I don’t know why my parents wanted to do that. I felt depressed each time after watching the depressed animals, but I didn’t have the heart to tell my parents. For some inexplicable reasons, I felt that my parents considered the trip to the zoo an education for my benefit, though I didn’t feel I got the slightest amount of education or received any benefit.
“Look, the peacock is opening up its feathers.” My mother said excitedly to my father and me, “he must be excited to see us.”
If my parents were less authoritative, I would have said I don’t believe our presence makes him happy at all, but I knew if I said that, my parents would probably considered me starting a revolution. Better keep my mouth shut. Still I looked around to see if a female peacock was present to excite the male, but no. There’s no other peacock around. This particular peacock was alone in the front area and he had a back area which was blocked by a fence. Then it suddenly dawned on me that this local zoo must be a puritanical zoo–the males and the females were either neutered or separated–for the simple reason of preventing them from doing unseemly things in front of us. I wished my friends were with me so that we could share this discovery of mine and I couldn’t wait for the next day so that I could go to school to talk with my two best friends about this.
We walked to see the elephant. He is truly alone since there’s no female elephant in this zoo. We looked around, but couldn’t see his bulky figure. My mother said he might be hiding in his little house, which was located at the edge of the little patch of lawn he was used to strolling about. My mother asked me to go with her to the little house, which has a visitor’s viewing area, separated and barred away from the elephant area. When it’s raining, people would go to the little house to see the elephant, though I could never understand why people want to visit a zoo in a rainy day. I showed no interest to go with her. So she went alone. Minutes later, she ran out of it, wiping her face and the front of her jacket with something. It turned out the elephant sucked the water from somewhere and squirted it onto my mother.
I stared at my mother and didn’t feel a thing. If this had happened to my friends Yingying or Zhangli, I would sympathize, laugh, find a napkin to help them wipe themselves, talk about all the details, and probably would go inside the elephant house again to find a way to revenge, but I didn’t feel a thing for my mother. I didn’t move a muscle in my face or in my body. I suddenly remembered that when my friend Zhangli was scolded by my teacher once–just one or two sentences–I felt I was really hurt and I still feel hurt to this day.
I was scared that I’m not a good daughter or I am not even a normal person. How could I not feel a thing? I’ve thought about this incident again and again since then. I am not unsympathetic to my mother’s circumstances. She had to take care of her eight siblings–she’s the eldest–since she was very young; she had no interest in children after such a labor intensive childhood; she’s very pretty and very energetic and had all the promise of a bright future, but it all ended up a mirage. It all ended up that she had to take care my father and I, as unwillingly as she was with her younger siblings.
I was scared. Things can be scary without being visibly scary.