A Tale Of Two Cousins (Flash Fiction Part 12)

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Flash Fiction #163

This is the 12th part. The previous 11 parts are here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,9, 10, 11.

Nalan, Present Day

After a socially appropriate period of mourning, my father married again. I was a little shocked to see how sad an appearance my father put up after my mother died. Shouldn’t he be relieved that he didn’t have to stay in a bitter marriage anymore? I guess he probably felt that, but that’s something my father couldn’t tell me, couldn’t share with neighbors, or probably couldn’t even admit to himself. Anyway, his sad demeanor invoked endless sympathy from women in the neighborhood and women far away, who heard of this news from their friends or relatives. Suddenly, my father became a most welcomed guest to neighborhood events and dinner parties, during which somebody’s widowed or unmarried female friends or relatives happened to show up by accident. My father had never bothered to write letters or lift his pen for other purposes if he could help it, but suddenly he took up the task of writing long letters to women far away.

When I came back for winter or summer breaks before he got remarried, I could feel that he was enjoying his life, although not in a very obvious ways in case it would be frowned upon. It has always puzzled me that my father who disliked women in general would be so eager to find a wife. Shouldn’t he stay away from the group of people he didn’t like very much? He was a covert narcissist and a very polite narcissist. He would never openly scold women, but he could always find fault in a woman’s appearance and make a polite (and clever) comment about it; women’s traits were always ridiculous to him–they giggle, they chat, they rant, they speak in high pitched voices, they nag, they complain, they have moods, they have women’s issues. When such an annoyance intruded on him, he would make sure that he commented on this with his unfailingly polite phrases. Whenever a woman around us suffered from some chronic illnesses due to stress or childbirth or whatever, my father would recite an old proverb, “a sick woman is a burden on a man.”

And he got remarried. Guess what? His second wife was (she was still working when they married but she has since retired) the head of a human resource department of an electricity company, in charge of debt collection from schools, hospitals, senior centers, and other public entities, from which the electricity company was not allowed to disconnect their service. This second wife, whom I call Auntie Yuan, is a no-nonsense lady and an expert in human relationship. For years, she had the toughest job to do and the toughest team to manage. Now the providence gave her the task of managing my father. And she’s totally up to the challenge. She controlled my father, whose narcissism has been crushed under Auntie Yuan’s oversized friendliness and steely attitude. Every time I met them, Auntie Yuan would behave like a normal person, but my father would complain to me (behind Auntie Yuan’s back) that she was uneducated, she had an accent, she couldn’t even read one newspaper paragraph without making two mistakes, she wanted to control his money. It was my father’s usual narcissistic trick. He would speak ill of Auntie Yuan to me, and very likely he spoke ill of me to her, so that I would dislike her and she would dislike me. I never participated in his game, and somehow I was confident that Auntie Yuan would never team up with my father to criticize me. She probably haven’t read more than a handful of books, but she is a cool person and she is super clever about people. If she wanted to grab all my father’s money, I had absolutely no problem with that.

Well, now let me come back to my life and my entanglement with my cousin Arjin 25 years after the unfortunate incident of our teenage years. Anyway, I have become a researcher in psychology in a university. I am living now in the same big city where most of my maternal relatives live. It is the best place to find an academic job. I dislike all my maternal relatives since most of them are either hard core narcissists or frightened narcissistic victims or clueless narcissistic golden boys or girls. I rarely go to family gatherings. If I ever go, I play the same role of grey rock as I always do.

Anyway, last week, I went to my grandma’s funeral, where most of my relatives were present. As usual, my narcissistic relatives squabbled about who was to blame for Grandma’s death. I was so fed up that I stood up and said, “she was old and she died. Why do we need find a scapegoat for everything happened in this family? Somebody said something that she didn’t like. Her heart couldn’t take it and it gave out. So she died. That’s it. Just let it go.”

I felt that my uncle, who’s Arjin’s father, eyed me with contempt. When the funeral was over, Arjin’s wife Fanfan came to me. She listened to what I said in the funeral and agreed with me.

Also she thinks that I am doing psychological research and I may be able to help her. In addition, she knows about my “feud” with Arjin. Because of this, she guessed that I would not take Arjin’s side.

She told me everything.

At first, I stared at Fanfan, not knowing what to do. I didn’t want to get involved with anything happened in this narcissistic family, but on the other hand, I was unable to say no to her if she really needed my help.

(To Be Continued Here)

14 thoughts on “A Tale Of Two Cousins (Flash Fiction Part 12)

  1. Auntie Yuan sounds like a tough woman and someone who could stand up to your dad. I understand why you said that at the funeral and maybe people hated it because you were right.

    Liked by 1 person

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