I am not the happy one

This story is dedicated to a powerless group. If they could speak, it should be heard.

View the illustrated version 


 
pliao@mica.edu
 

I am not the happy one

I live on the third floor in an eight-story building. I’ve never gone out. In fact, I wonder if anyone has ever made their way out.

There is a fake sun in the middle of my life. It is so bright. Therefore, I got lost in time.  

The light is so dazzling that he cannot see himself. But I see him so well - our landlord is a miserable guy.

He owns the land but not everything above it. He takes care of his property but has no control of it.

“Hey sweetheart, don’t cry, everything will be alright. I will get the money by the end of this month.” He was on the phone talking to his daughter who goes to college.

He is like a puppet performing in silence. His flesh ties to strings and his eyes stare straight ahead; he cannot acknowledge or predict his moves.

He brought more little tenants in today. His hands were shaking and his will was resisting. He can only do one thing: just watch his destiny spinning along the bigger wheel.

The giant wheel is powered by endless demand and generates massive supply. Non stop, non stop.

This business brings in far more sadness than satisfaction.

One of my roommates is a whining lady. Just like how Eskimos have many words for snow, she makes twenty-four sounds to sob out the sorrow and grief in her life.

“Are you OK?” I know that was a nightmare, probably the same one as yesterday. She is experiencing one thing, over and over again.

“I am not, really.” Her voice is hoarse.

I don’t blame her. She does not have the authority of her body. She cannot spread out her arms, nor can she stand on her feet.

Her body is programmed to crush her mind. She is a product of a domineering arrogance to combat time, to earn efficiency. The more the better; quality does not matter.

She seems old. In fact, her life is abnormally short, but it feels unbearably long. Her life is not short or long. She loses track, so do I.

I know my young brother was wiped out when he was so little. In his very first breath, he inhaled the smell of greasy metal. The only thing he touched was a running production belt.

His soul woke up in a pile of ground fears and tears. I don’t know which is good luck and which is not. Sometimes death is mercy.

Last night, I dreamt of being a mom. I thought that it was something I was doing so well, but the truth is, I don’t have the right to see my child.

I miss my mom who I’ve never met. I am just one of the unmet children. The only memory I have about her is her voice, soft but weak, and a story she told two hundred and eighty-six times.

The story is about my very very great, great, grandmother who was a happy one.

She loved taking a long bath under the real sun or under tree shade. She always danced like a little fairy with the dust she raised. She was proud of being a mother and she had lots of children.

She recognized them all. She protected them all with her solid love and strong arms. Each of them recognized her voice, they listened and looked up to her to be a better one.

That’s what my world should be. I don’t know when everything changed. Our value is defined by someone else’s suffering. Our happiness is measured by someone else’s tragedy.

This is all happening in the world that I don’t comprehend. I only know, there is a better way.

I wish I lived in a different flesh. I wish I didn’t have to lay an egg every thirty-two hours in the farm. I wish there were not three hundred and five million others like me. I wish I were not a chicken.

Tomorrow will be my second birthday. I know that day is also coming, the day of the end.

I hope I will dream of the story tonight. I hope to see the image of the healthy, happy mother that keeps me hopeful in my only inherited tragic life.

And when you see me, you will hear me whispering the story of my very very great, great, grandmother who was the happy one, on the shelf, or in your grocery bag.