Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Anaya - Part 5

By the time their first anniversary came around, Anaya and Kris managed two ice-cream parlors while her parents retired back to their old country. The country of Anaya’s birth, the place that she recalled in flashes of bittersweet memories. Whatever had happened decades ago that had necessitated their exile had calmed down. It was not a place her parents could have returned to work in again, their businesses evaporated, their properties not theirs anymore, their name unrecognizable, their friends dead or exiled from the upheaval of the country’s politics. Anaya had no connection to the place and had good excuse not to visit her parents – there just was never the time.

One day a customer came in, dressed in scrubs. He bought an ice cream shake and lingered while he sipped. It was a slow day so Anaya struck up a conversation, curious about his occupation. He was a second year medical student and knew from a young age his dream to be a doctor. His parents supported him and helped out as much as they could to get him a head start. He admitted it was hard, but the beauty of pursuing a dream was that you do anything, to make it happen. After he left, Anaya pondered on her life, the life she was made to lead and the life that she wanted to.

Her marriage remained a partnership, as cordial as the business one. Kris was charming and courteous and allowed Anaya her space as they went about their daily routines. Each spent their working ours in the two separate stores and time at home behind their work desks, moving forward like the parallel train tracks. Anaya spent her free time going for long walks and almost always found her feet taking her toward the hospital down the block. There she would stand in the park and watch recovering patients stroll on the walkways or sit under the shade of tree, a visitor or a nurse beside them. She’d catch glimpses of doctors on break, grabbing coffee on a bench. Anaya would tear up and walk away from the scene as quickly as she had erased her chances of her dream from her mind.
Now that her parents were gone, settled in their homeland and living on a paycheck from the proceeds of Anaya and Kris’s parlor profits, Anaya toyed with the idea of leaving it all behind. She thought to give it all away to Kris and follow her own path. As days went by, this idea became more irresistible and she approached Kris with a proposition. He hated the idea. He didn’t want her to go away and leave it for him to run everything alone. He didn’t feel it right to take over her family’s business by himself. He needed her to stay in his life, no matter how estranged their relationship was. He reminded her of the responsibility to her parents’ hard work and for their sake, she couldn’t throw this all away. What if he couldn’t manage it alone and lost the business? He couldn’t take that responsibility.
Anaya, frustrated at the same card that her father had played with her and now her husband – fear, obligation, guilt. A thick fog descended on her as she went about her daily tasks. He was a good man, her husband, she thought. He had the opportunity to take it all but he cared, really cared. The question that had been bothering her all this time surfaced again, why did he marry her if it was not the money or to take over her business? That night her question was answered.
to be continued...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Anaya - Part 4

Over the next few weeks she learned how this arrangement was a win-win for her parents. This guy, Kris, was going to move in, help run the business so her father could retire. They needed a man at the helm, her father explained, and he was getting old and tired. Anaya could run the place, but a man needed to manage the business and her fiancé was a perfect choice, her father rationalized. He had experience running businesses, he didn’t mind moving in with them, as both his parents had passed away, and his sister was happily married off, leading a life far away. Above all, her father elaborated, Kris liked Anaya, and will not mind her continuing to run the store as she always did.
In the private corner of her mind she disappeared, to entertain some ideas, but came up with no solution. She had no one to turn to, no family she knew of, or friends who could even vaguely understand her predicament. She had no money or any outlet she could reach out to, or even if she did, how could she leave her parents, especially as they looked so much older and weaker and had no one else in the world left to take care of them. She couldn’t just abandon them in their twilight years, so alone. She returned to the reality and with her eyes dimmed, her shoulders slouched, she quietly listened to her parents as they put this new man on a pedestal. He seemed just too perfect, too good to be true.
The wedding day arrived, a simple affair with few friends, some regular customers, a handful of neighbors, and even smaller group with the groom. Her mother gave her a red garb, the nicest clothes Anaya received from her parents since their arrival to their new homeland. After the ceremonies, Anaya and her new husband drove off to a beach town for a weekend getaway. He was charming and gentle, and Anaya enjoyed his company. They became friends and became comfortable with each other. The question of love never entered her mind. This marriage, she knew, was a partnership and as partners, they got along fabulously.
To be continued...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Anaya - Part 3

A year after graduation Anaya found herself managing the parlor full-time, while her father worked on starting a second one. Her lone friend had shipped to college across the country. Her mother shuttled between the two stores to help where she could. One slow day when Anaya was alone behind the front counter, a young man walked in. She put on her professional smile and welcomed him to the store. He sampled a few flavors and settled on a cup of pistachio gelato.  Holding the cool cup, he lingered a while as Anaya waited. He smiled, introduced himself as Kris, and asked her a few questions about how the business was going, whether she enjoyed working there, what she did in her free time, her favorite place to eat. She kept her professional smile pasted and gave short quick answers – yes business was good, it’s a family business so there’s no question about enjoy or not, and no, she doesn’t have free time or eat out. He was charming in a way, but she didn’t feel any attraction toward him. He stayed to finish the ice-cream in his cup and tried to make more conversation, but luckily they were interrupted, as more customers walked in and she got busy handing out endless samples to a team of soccer kids.

Late one evening her parents knocked on her bedroom door and invited themselves in. They asked her about the young man, Kris, who had visited their parlor few weeks ago. She was perplexed and told them that he asked too many questions and hopefully she hadn’t caused any problems by answering. Her mother shook her head and asked, what she thought of this young man. Why? She asked, what do they care? She thought he was a jerk, too inquisitive, too friendly for her comfort. Well, her father informed, that Anaya will have to like him now, and it would make them very happy, because they had arranged for them to be married. Anaya felt as if both her parents had slapped her. She stared at them and shouted her objections. How could they do this without even asking her? What gave them the right? She thought they needed her to help with the business, to take care of them. How could they even do this without even asking when, if, she wanted to get married? She yelled and bawled and cried, in anger, in desperation, in despair. Her mother held her and rocked her, as if lulling her to sleep. Anaya’s petite body heaved and then depleted, she slumped.

to be continued...