Flash Fiction #153
(This is the 2nd half of the story. The first half is here.)
The conversation happened two years ago. And Lulan hasn’t thought about it until now.
Just several days ago, Ajun came back from a trip to Southeast Asia. He should have taken a rest to nurse his jet lag, but he didn’t. He drove to Philadelphia for a business meeting the very next day. When he drove back, he fell asleep behind the wheel. His car hit the guard rail, bounced, and flipped. He died when he was being transported to the hospital.
And Ivy and Tom went to help Mi to arrange everything and to provide support. And according to the tradition of Ajun and Mi’s hometown, a funeral is usually followed by a big banquet in honor of the deceased, in which great amount of food will be consumed by people who know the deceased, music will be played, and Buddhist scripts will be chanted by monks. Mi managed everything, except that she couldn’t get any monks and couldn’t get any Buddhist scripts. So she gave up the idea. Instead, she asked everybody to recite something in remembrance of Ajun.
It just so happened that Ivy, Tom, and two senior instructors have been invited to the funeral and the banquet. However, Lulan, who’s also a senior instructor, is not invited. Ivy tried to conceal the news of the invitation from Lulan, but it hasn’t worked. Lulan soon realizes that she’s the only senior member who’s not invited and she’s quite upset.
“Why didn’t Mi invite me?” Lulan asks Ivy when she gets hold of her.
“Lulan, Mi is in mourning and she can’t think of everything. You should forgive her. She probably just forgets certain details. So don’t make it sound like …” Ivy says and tries to get away.
“You should remind her that she should invite me.” Lulan says.
“No, I can’t do that.” Ivy says and tries not to look at Lulan.
“Why can’t you remind her? I’ve never done anything to offend Ajun and Mi, except that one time I talked a little bit of narcissism and depression, which can be run in a family or something like that.” Lulan says.
“Not just a little bit. You said it in front of all the instructors…” Ivy says.
“Not all instructors. Just several… Oh, my goodness. Somebody tried to flatter Ajun and Mi, and he or she just threw me under the bus. ‘Hi, Mi, you know Lulan in ITC is badmouthing about Ajun and blah, blah, blah.’ I can just imagine that.” Lulan says.
“It’s not me. Let’s make that clear. Actually Mi came to ask me about your ‘diagnose’ of her husband as a narcissist. I was very surprised. I couldn’t say you didn’t say that.” Ivy says.
“I didn’t diagnose it. I just said there’s a chance that overworking and overexercising are caused by narcissism, but I said I don’t know Ajun and he might not be a narcissist, didn’t I? That’s so unfair. Now you see. He worked himself to death. So my diagnose is correct. If Ajun had had treatment, he probably would have quit working so hard long ago. And he would not have died from overwork. Now Mi is really shooting the messenger, isn’t she? I can’t believe this. I was trying to be helpful, but I was rewarded with anger and rejection and…” Lulan says.
“You are not a psychiatrist, Lulan. You could be wrong. The problem is that if you are wrong, you can be forgiven for misspeaking. However if you are right, you will never be forgiven and you may be hated forever.” Ivy says with a wistful grin.