I received a call from Father just after I came back from an official visit abroad when I barely felt refreshed after a hot bath. Father’s number flashed on my mobile’s screen, immediately making my head swell.
Anyway, what else can I expect Father to say except urging me to marry myself off as soon as possible like I was a flawed commodity. Mother used to do that before a tragic accident took her life two years ago. While feeling keenly the grief of losing my most beloved mother, I had nourished the blasphemous thought that maybe I could have my own way thereafter. I was downright naive. Father carried on Mother’s will in a much more determined way, in a way, oh forgive me, that bordered on harassment and humiliation. He would say a woman of my age had no right to be picky; he said all of his friends had grandchildren; he blamed me for not giving peace to Mother in heaven. One time, I kept receiving e-mails from strangers asking me out, which gave me the creeps. It turned out that Father got my email address and registered my very private information with a matchmaking agency.
People around me said I was too proud and set an unreasonably high standard about a man so idealized that he could only be met in fiction. How can a beautiful and smart woman be unable to settle down with a family at 30? Rumors had it that women were my pursuit. But I was neither arrogant nor lesbian. I just wanted to marry a man like Father，a true gentleman, charming dignified, super nice to women. Mother definitely considered herself the happiest person when she was around. Auntie, a spinster four years younger than Father, once told me when I visited her in her native town several years ago that Father was so kind to her that she didn’t see the extraordinary privilege of a marriage.
Knowing better than to ignore the call, I answered it rather reluctantly. The excitement of his voice immediately vibrated in my ears.
“Honey, get packed, we are going back to my hometown.”
“To attend your aunt’s wedding ceremony!”
That’s news! Despite my fatigue, my curiosity and genuine concern for Auntie had an upper hand.
After the modest but warm wedding banquet, leaving drunken Father in the charge of her husband, a good–humored, retired middle school teacher, Auntie invited me for a walk along a river, the banks overhung with soft wickers.
Our happy conversation lasted for some time. Then Auntie took my hands in hers, looking at me intently, “Will you please forgive me?”
“For what?” I asked very much perplexed.
Auntie’s eyes rested on my face for a long while before she suddenly released my hands and walked away in big steps in a silent huff. I sensed there must have been a story and instinctively caught up with her and pleaded repeatedly, “Auntie, what is it? Please tell me.”
My persistence stopped her and she finally said, “You will regret to hear this.
“Never!” that only reinforced my curiosity.
“OK,” she sighed, “I am not your aunt. I had been your father’s fiancee before he met your mother. But he always felt guilty because he knew how much sacrifice I had made to support him through college. He came to beg my pardon only one week before he married your mother. He asked me to marry somebody else when I was still young and pretty. But how could I? I said on impulse I would get married unless his son or daughter got married.”
She shifted her eyes away from the dumbfounded me, pointing into the sky where an unusually big and bright moon hung there quietly, and said bitterly, “Don’t blame me. I had been punished for so many years, unable to see the most beautiful and poetic things in the world. I have never known there is such a pretty supermoon like this until today. ” After a pause, she turned to face me, “Find a boyfriend for yourself please, for me and for your father as well!”Share...