In Pursuit of Happiness, Part 3
Conclusion: To be happy sometimes, you need to cry
Newton’s third law of motion states that, ‘For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction.’ Like when you’re sitting in a car and the driver suddenly hits the breaks, your body gets thrown forward with the same amount of force opposed to the force stopping the car. Of course, since most likely you will be wearing a seatbelt, only your head receives the impact of that force and you get whiplash. It shares the same principle when someone grabs you by the shoulders and starts shaking you violently.
When I was little, I learned on my own that it doesn’t necessarily apply to just the physics of toys rolling on a slippery floor or figuring out the right amount of force to use to be able to successfully throw your sparring partner during martial arts class. I found out, that for every good thing that happens to you, something equally bad is waiting to pounce at you as you walk round the corner. Just when you finally find your personal redemption, something that gives you worth, there’s always something as equally bad that’s bound to happen in exchange for that simple pleasure you discovered.
One time, when we were younger, Kagura went on this ‘playing house with her younger cousins even if it was against their will’ stage. It was roughly after the incident with Momiji’s mother… I think. Somehow, something planted in Kagura’s mind that it was a good idea if she became her younger cousins’ substitute mother. Even though Kagura’s idea of ‘mothering’ was somewhat strange and sometimes frightening, I secretly admit that though some of those unconditional hugs of affection were unwelcome they were still a great comfort. Unfortunately, it was also in one of those instances when Kagura accidentally found incriminating bruises on my shoulders, carefully hidden under the folds of my clothes.
She also accidentally “told”.
Her mother got upset. She was very concerned that our martial arts classes were getting too rough. So she confronted Shihan about it. Shihan, in turn, confronted me. When he saw them it was the first time in my life that someone didn’t believe me when I said “I fell” at home. Naturally that person got upset when Shihan voiced his concerns to her. And that incident eventually led to a series of events that concluded with me ending up with a matching bruise on my arm, a badly sprained wrist, and a nearly dislocated shoulder after another “fall”. Needless to say, after that, Kagura made an effort to keep her demonstrations of affection became less pronounced at least with me.
As much as I hate to admit it after her unwanted displays of affection was finally withheld from me started to hunger for it. Specially during times like these, when one naturally seek out for comfort in when one starts to drown in a sea of self-pity. The hunger for affection gets worse after actually tasting for yourself instead if just imagining it… it didn’t really matter if it was merely an act of children playing, reinacting their experience of a mother’s love.
I can still remember her soft gentle humming filtered through my ears. It felt nice to hear it. I simply let the warm feelings that accompanied it wash over me. How pathetic I am. I’m so desperate in seeking for comfort that I’d reach out and settle for mere memories through my dreams. I let out a long sigh br />
Suddenly, the humming stopped.
“Ara? Yuki-kun? Are you awake?”
Eh? My eyes opened instantly and from the dim shadows the evening cast in my room, I saw her sitting on the floor by my bedside, looking at me apologetically. I automatically sat up to face her, “EH? Honda-san? Wha-?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you, but it was sort of habit,” She started apologetically with a sheepish smile as she raised to show me the piece of needle point she was working on, “I thought I’d try to finish my project for Home Economics class while I was here.”
“In the dark?” I couldn’t help but frown at that, “Why didn’t you turn on the lights? You’ll ruin your eyes.”
“Ah yes!” She replied, suddenly flustered at my reaction, as she leaned forward to explain her embarrassment, “I’m sorry! But I didn’t want to wake you. You looked so tired when you came home earlier this evening.”
Once again, I felt my breath get caught in my throat. Even the shadows of the late evening couldn’t hide the loveliness of her face as it cast her honest expressions. She was so close that I could smell the sweet and clean fragrance of her shampoo and I could the soft tendrils of her warm breath in the air around me. I quickly pulled away and reached past her to turn on my desk lamp, “Well it’s fine now. I’m awake. The least you could have done is turn on the lamp.”
“Ye- yes! I’m sorry!” She said again as she ducked her head and rose to her feet, “I’ll turn on the lights right now.”
I watched her anxiously cross the short distance in the room to turn on the light switch, somewhat feeling very torn between disappointment and relief. With those feelings, a single question nagged at the back of my head as well. I instinctively blinked my eyes as the bright florescent light flooded the room, “Ano Honda-san?”
“Yes?” She turned around and gave me a curious look.
“Ano what were you doing here?”
“Ah, Shigure-san asked me to.”
“Yes, before Hatori-san left, he said that it would be best to keep a close eye on you for the next 24 hours. I’m not quite sure what he meant by that Anyway, Kyou-kun called and said that he’ll be staying over at Shisho-san’s place overnight, and Shigure-san decided to accompany Hatori-san to the Main House. That’s why Shigure-san asked if I could watch you tonight.”
Eh? EEEEH!!? That perverted dog I’m going to KILL him first thing in the morning! I never felt so mortified in my entire life! And all the while, she was looking at me with an innocent and very pleased expression on her face. I forced a small, self-conscious smile on my face, praying that she wouldn’t notice the heat I felt pooling up my face, “Ano Honda-san I don’t think Hatori meant that you needed to stay in my room to watch me sleep overnight.”
“But it’s fine Yuki-kun, I don’t mind staying with you at all!” She chirped enthusiastically, then her expression froze with a look of horror as soon as she realized the words that left her mouth. Her hands instantaneously rose to cover her cheeks, but it couldn’t completely hide the same deep shade of red that flooded her own face, “Ah! Iya! ano I didn’t think I didn’t I mean not that way I’m sorry. I’ll go now if you want me to
“Ah, no, don’t!” I called out reassuringly, “I’m sorry for embarrassing you like that. You don’t have to leave if you don’t want to. Please stay.”
“Ye yes,” She said slowly as she settled back to her place, and picked up her school project, concentrating her gaze on the needle work in front of her.
I hooked my arms around a bent leg and rested my chin on my knee as I watched her work. Of course, by now sleep was the furthest thing in my mind. So I simply enjoyed her company and settled into the room’s comfortable silence, secretly thanking Shigure’s perversion that at least one good thing resulted from it.
“I was just wondering what exactly was Hatori-san worried about?”
I made an involuntary cringe at her question. Then again, I was already half-expecting that she would ask me that eventually, given Hatori’s extreme concern. But honestly, Hatori needs to lighten up and loosen his noose on me once in a while. I mean, I already made a verbal contract that I won’t do anything stupid. And yes, that earlier quip I made to him, when I asked him to hand me my Exacto knife in my drawer so I can slash my wrist to write and sign that contract in blood, was done in bad taste. But still he knew well enough that I was joking. He took the blade with him anyway. The man seriously needs to get himself a good sense of humour.
“Ah! You don’t have to tell me if it’s something personal,” She quickly said as she sensed my hesitation, before cautiously continuing on with her words, “But Yuki-kun if there’s something that bothering you anything at all I don’t think I’ll be much help but I’m willing to listen
I simply turned away and reached out to pull the white cord hanging by my window and peered at the clear night sky through the raised blinds. She made a nervous laugh at my silent reply, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so impudent. It’s just that Yuki-kun has done so much for me. I just thought that’s the least I could do I’m sorry.”
“I saw my father today.”
“Eh? Yuki-kun’s Otousan? Was that who you met this afternoon?”
“Maa, you haven’t seen your father in a long time, have you?”
“Was Ayame-san and your mother with you? It must have been a happy reunion.”
” No i-san and I saw him at separate times. My parents had never been in the same room since I was six-years-old.”
“Eh? I’m sorry, I didn’t know your parents were divorced.”
“They aren’t. They just decided to live separately. It probably would have been for the best if they just get it over with and get one. But with Ni-san and I being the way we are, a divorce will simply complicate things even more since Mother is not a Souma. “
“I’m sorry,” She whispered again, “It must have been very hard for you to grow up and not seeing your parents together.”
“Not really. Either way, I ended up not spending a lot of time with either of them when I was growing up anyway. My parents are the type of people that shouldn’t have been allowed to marry and have children.” To be quite honest, I was surprised to hear my voice stating those words to her.
I continued to look out my window, determined not to meet her gaze, lest I loose my courage to continue saying what was weighing my heart down all these years. From the tone of her voice, I can imagine the expression on her face. She must be visibly shocked or confused with my words, or even both. After all, what kind of a person would say those things about his own parents? But somehow, upon saying it it felt as if a wall had been knocked down. And the rest of the words being held back behind it poured out unabashedly
“Father is terrified of responsibility, so he’s made running away from it as a full time job. He takes his role as my father only because of duty and at his own convenience. Mother has the tendency to ‘do’ things out of anger and with her not realizing it. Ever since I was little, I’ve made up my mind that when I grow up I’ll never become like either of them. I would stand up on my own and have nothing to do with them But today
I closed my eyes to brace myself as the emotions I felt flooded over me, during the nerve-wracking moments when my father looked at me in the eye and refused to answer my questions, “For a few brief moments my father made me believe that I really wasn’t his son and I panicked. When it turned out to be untrue I actually felt relieved. I never thought I’d be glad to be my father’s son but it also forced me to accept something inevitable
“Yes?” She encouraged me to continue as my nerve to say aloud what I wanted to say next started to falter.
/ When you grow older and have children of your own, your genetics will dictate that you’ll either become just like mother
“Earlier today when I got upset at Hagayui-san I shifted my legs so that I would be hugging both of them as I buried my face on my knees, “I accidentally hurt you without even realizing it and all this time with Father with Mother with Ni-san
/ r just like me./
“I was simply running away.”
I don’t want that! I don’t want to end up like that! I don’t want to end up just like them. I don’t want to wake up one morning and see my reflection in the mirror looking tired and weary and angry and old. I don’t want to have the feeling that comes along with the knowledge that my children hates me and have flights of homicidal ideas to murder me at the back of a taxi cab with a ballpoint pen.
“Ano it probably would be very painful but I don’t think its possible for anyone to be killed by getting stabbed by a ballpoint pen
My eyes snapped open and immediately turned to her in disbelief. I immediately felt that embarrassing flush return to my face. I didn’t even realize I said it out loud! Nevertheless, she took every word I said in serious, thoughtful contemplation, as if it was something any ordinary person from the street would say out in the blue.
She met my eyes and froze before ducking her head, “I’m sorry. What I said was strange wasn’t it?” She made a small nervous laugh, “It’s just that I don’t think I can really fully understand what Yuki-kun is going through. I mean, I know how it feels not to have a father around I didn’t get to know my father very well either since I was still so young. I don’t even remember him very much. And of course Mom
After hearing her say those words, all at once I felt a great wave of shame engulfing me. Honda-san has gone through her life. And yet she continues None of my problems seem to matter compared to hers, “Honda-san?”
“Are you happy?”
Without any hesitation whatsoever, she flashed me her wonderful, sunny smile, “YES! Of course!”
“Even though so many sad things have happened to you? Even though you’ll never be with your mother and father again?”
“Well if you put it that way There are times when I do feel sad,” Her smile faltered as she looked at me in deep reflection, “But you know Yuki-kun a lot a happy things has happened to me as well. I have Uo-chan and Hana-chan as wonderful friends. And now, I have Kyou-kun and Shigure-san and everyone And of course Yuki-kun all of you have accepted me into the Souma Family For that, I think that I’m very lucky. It may sound a little sappy, but there is just so much for me to be thankful for! And for that I’m very happy.”
” mazing I whispered almost inaudibly as I bowed my head to hide my eyes, ” ou’re truly amazing, Honda-san
“All my life, all I wanted was to be just like that. I thought if I made my parents feel proud of me if I did everything that everyone was expecting from me
/ f I made them happy
” f I just waited patiently it would come eventually.
/ would be happy too
“But no matter how much I tried how long I waited
/ t didn’t work
” othing changed.”
/Nothing changed. Nothing ever changes. Nothing will ever change So I ran away
“So I I started to run away to see if I can find my own happiness
/But that didn’t work either./
“And now Honda-san is in front of me. Even though so many tragic things has happened to you you still have the ability and the strength to smile
/Compared to you
“Suddenly everything I did
/ ompared to you
” verything I ever felt
/ ompared to you./
“Now eems rather shallow.”
/I’m so inferior. /
Once again, I dropped my forehead on my knees, feeling suddenly exhausted. Of course, after all is said and done, I started to regret even saying it aloud to her. A heavy silence shrouded the four corners of my room. After a few more moments, the soft rustle of her clothing whispered in the air as she got on her feet. Of course, who would want to stay after hearing someone say something like that. I practically accused her of making me feel bad simply because she had a harder time with life than me. I made a sigh of disgust as I swallowed back the painful lump that was starting to form in my throat.
When suddenly, I felt a slight jostle against my right shin. I look up only to gape in surprise to see her sitting uncertainly on the edge of my bed, staring down at her hands, which was currently folded primly on her lap.
“I’m really sorry Yuki-kun she began as she anxiously chewed on her lower lip, “I don’t really understand what you’re feeling so I really don’t know what to say during times like these. But Mom once told me that even though a fruit doesn’t fall too far away from a crooked tree, the tree that sprouts from the seeds of that fruit grow doesn’t necessarily be the same as its parent. Its true that may also grow bent and crooked as well. But with proper tending, it may also grow taller and prouder than its parent, with its branches spreading far and wide.”
“It’s also the same with happiness,” She lifted her face and turned to directly look me in the eye, “Happiness is not really something you search for or wait for. Mom also told me that a lot of people tend to expect happiness as a form of reward. So they wait for it or search for it often times, not realizing that their happiness is right underneath their noses
With that, she gave me a shy grin, “Mom told me, that despite what a lot of people assume, nobody can bring you or give you happiness. The only person who can truly make you happy is yourself. Happiness is something you create and tend lovingly with your own hands.”
For the second time, in less than 24 hours, I was genuinely speechless. I bowed my head and closed my eyes. Before I even realized what I was doing, I’ve thrown myself on her lap, hands loosely wrapped around her waist. I felt her entire body freeze at my sudden action, uncertain with how to react.
“Ah ah ano Yu-yu-yuki kun?”
“I know it’s too much to ask,” I whispered again, “But please please let me stay like this for a little while please let me stay please stay
I felt her body gradually relax as one hand reluctantly rested on top of my shoulder, and the other started to gently run through my hair. She bent down until I could feel her breath close to my ear.
“Yes. I’ll stay with you for as long as you need me, Yuki-kun. I’ll stay with you for as long as you want.”
With those words, I instinctively tightened my hold around her waist for as far as I could dare without transforming. Then I let the flood that I was holding back in my eyes to fall freely to accompany the violent sobs that wracked through my body.
Honda-san was right. But I wasn’t entirely wrong either. Sometimes, you do need to go out and search for it. Now that I found it for sure, there’s no way I’ll let go. That tiny seed of happiness is finally in my hands now. I’ll make sure to plant it and tend to it with all my love. Perhaps No not ‘perhaps’ It’s absolutely for sure.
That seed will grow tall and proud. And its branches will spread far and wide.