Thursday, 24 March 2011

The retired professor and his wife

The old couple led a placid life since the husband, the old professor retired just about 10 years ago. Most days with the weather permitted, they hiked up a little hill a short distance from their residence over a gradual slope in early mornings to stretch their old bones. In the afternoon he kept himself busy tending dozens of potted plants at their balcony where they had fine, panoramic view of the hills at the adjacent landscape. He would have enjoyed a cup of afternoon tea, whilst going through the pages of a periodical, whereas she would have left the house for a chat with her old girl friends at a cozy country coffee house nearby. Their only child, a grown up young woman was working and based in the US.

About a month ago in the early wee hours, he felt that the bed sheet was wet. “Oh, she wetted the bed again!” He grumbled softly. Nudging his life partner of 40 over years, he found that there was no response. She had gone to another dimension in her sleep.

“Condolence…please take care of yourself!” “I will come over and keep you company if you feel being lonely.”  “Life still needs to go on…….after her passing…..” Concerned relatives and folks told him with genuine empathy.  “Thanks so much!” He replied sincerely. Shaking their hands and hugging them, he maintained his scholarly mannerism and poise. It seemed that he was okay with the loss of his dear wife.  Their daughter had then left for her work place shortly after the funeral; she had life of her own. The retired professor understood fully.

Weeks followed, he planned his moves orderly and discreetly. He had given away all his plants and flowers, returned all borrowed books to the local library, donated much of the household furniture to an orphanage. He had also visited his lawyer’s office to have his will reviewed and revised. It was all done in a matter of weeks.

On a moon lit night with the silvery light faintly slipped into his bedroom, he switched on his bedside lamp and wrote his parting words on a piece of paper. With his steady hands he held the plastic sleeping pill container, and glanced at the smiling face of her picture at their bedside table. As he reached for the lid to open it for the content inside, the phone rang. He hesitated but in the end he answered the call. Came the familiar voice he had so accustomed to, “Hey, Dad, I missed you so much, I want to keep you company. I am already at the airport!It was his dearest daughter on the line.

Summing up his story, the retired learned scholar placed his cup of English tea on the coffee table and told me this: It was neither the medicine, nor the treatment and advice of a psychiatrist or the patient’s cultured inner self, nor the sudden arrival of much needed wealth that prevented a person to commit suicide. It was just a plain feeling of being loved, concerned, and wanted.

A translated effort by
Alan CY Kok

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