If there’s one word Lui hated the most it’s PREGNANCY.
Raised in a town packed with women with baby bumps she had witnessed how and what it’s like to be pregnant. In her early age of nine she already was aware of the hardships and sacrifices women were bound to face and make if they were to bear a child. She saw how her aunt threw up now and then and it made her nauseous just hearing its sound. How her cousin wept when her boyfriend gave up his search for something she demanded – usually found once in a blue moon. How her cousin’s bestfriend looked like a zombie after waking up at least five times in the middle of the night to attend to the baby’s needs. How husbands and wives in her neighborhood wrangled over who would look after the blubbering child. And how the mothers she knew lost time for themselves because they had given it all to raising their children. And later on when the children grew up, they would easily forget about how their parents, especially their mother sacrificed their own happiness and freedom just to give it to them. These were some of the many reasons why Lui abhorred the word. While mothers considered having a child as the sweetest blessing from heaven that completes life, Lui saw it the opposite way. For her having a child doesn’t complete life, but rather ends it; it ends everything in a woman’s life; it ends life itself. This is why she did everything in her power to avoid this curse.
She dated guys she’s not sexually attracted to. She made out with girls whenever her body asked for it. Everything worked out according to her plan and she was happy with the way she’s living her life. Lui had three goals in life: to graduate from high school, to attend the university, and to have a career; these goals were nearly shattered when she made the stupidest mistake of letting her bestfriend convince her to attend a party the latter had hosted.
The morning after the party, she woke up in her bestfriend’s bed with a naked boy beside her. Crying was her immediate response; she had done it and she could only plead for her doctor to declare ‘false alarm’ when she went for a checkup after weeks of not having menstruation and vomiting a couple of times. YOU’RE PREGNANT were the only words from her doctor that registered in her brain/echoed in her ears as if these were the only words that’s left in her world. The only thing she avoided had struck her straight to the heart. She blamed her bestfriend for not protecting her, but the person she blamed the most was herself; she got pregnant and she hadn’t even enjoyed the process because she was too inebriated to remember.
Eureka! Just as everything in Lui’s world was crumbling, she came up with a brilliant idea, a sweet escape as she would call it. Megan, her bestfriend, was going to be left alone as her parents headed for a business trip abroad; she invited Lui to stay with her for a period of nearly four months. Lui didn’t want to leave her old mother by herself, but it was the only way she could get away with the responsibilities that’s four months away from being shoved down her throat (Lui’s petite stature had helped her in hiding her bump). She returned home after giving birth to her daughter, who she named after her bestfriend and savior. ‘It’s Megan’s,’ she told her mother, who was stupefied to see her daughter come home with this innocent little creature in her arms. It was all she needed to say and she’s saved. Megan’s parents had decided to move abroad for good and she was to continue her studies there. Lui’s proposal was for Megan to play as the mother of the child so that she could come home and go back to school after having to drop out because her bump was too huge for the alibi “I ate too much”, without any trouble. In return, Lui would name her baby after her bestfriend. It was a proposal Megan couldn’t resist after everything Lui had done for her, besides she wouldn’t have to take care of little Megan she would only have to play the role of a mother who left her child to her bestfriend because she couldn’t do it. It was a win-win solution for Lui: she got her life back and as far as she’s concerned she’s not a sinner because she bore her child and her baby got to live with her real mother rather than being aborted or given away.
Lui got away with her nightmare and made it to college. She got a time off from looking after the baby when she needed it, which was impossible for single mothers to get; her mother would do the job, she knew her daughter was against having a child and she admired her for shouldering the responsibilities her bestfriend turned her back on. With the truth hidden, Lui could afford to slack off. Little Megan grew up to be a beautiful and smart girl; she was looking like her Aunt Lui each day, which didn’t invite any questions because they’re together all the time resulting to a big resemblance between the two. They had a balanced and equal relationship. When Megan wanted something from Lui, which the latter couldn’t give, she would only have to be told to stop or behave herself once and she would. Megan always followed what Lui said and it’s because she had known from the beginning that she wasn’t her real daughter and so she didn’t have the right to behave the way real daughters would normally behave around their real mother.
Lui thought she was handling everything pretty well, but what she didn’t realize and failed to notice was the missing part in Megan’s life that only she could fill. Now working as a writer, Lui worked on the most compelling story she’d ever stumbled upon:
…even though she left me behind, I will always be grateful to her for giving me a life. I long to be with her. I love you, Mommy whoever and wherever you are.
The letter landed on her desk and it had been sitting there for more than a month. She knew she had to respond to it sooner or later or her credibility as a writer would be in jeopardy, especially when there’s more than fifteen people vying for her position. But what bothered her more was not the risk of getting fired but the words grateful, I long to be with her, and I love you, Mommy. And for the first time since she found out she was in trouble, when Megan became the product of a drunk egg and a John Doe sperm, Lui felt a pang somewhere in her heart something that only mothers felt. And this was because she didn’t mind coming home late listening inattentively on her mother’s account of how Megan fell and bruised her knees. Nor did she take a moment to appreciate Megan’s effort of running to her and taking her heavy bag and then fetching her slippers for her. But Lui wasn’t ready to tell Megan and her mother the truth; in fact, she wasn’t sure if telling them was the right thing to do or if it would make things better and easier for all of them.
‘What’s wrong with you? You look defeated,’ asked Grams distracted by Megan’s forlorn airs.
‘My letter still hasn’t been answered,’ sighed Megan.
‘The one I sent to Aunt Lui's office.’
‘It’s a busy place. They’ve got a lot of letters to read, you’re not the only letter sender.’
‘But it’s been more than a month, Grams. Sure there’s lots of letter senders but there’s also lots of them working there – Aunt Lui told me – and it doesn’t take days to read a three page letter.’
‘Well, then maybe your letter got lost why won’t you write another one and just hand it to your Aunt Lui.’
‘No, Grams it didn’t get lost. Aunt Lui said she saw her colleague crying, and when she looked to check she saw the lady clinging to my letter. Aunt Lui could’ve just answered my letter but she wouldn’t because the answer would be based on a relative’s point of view and I want someone else’s opinion on this.’
‘Oh, dear! You made someone cry. What exactly did you put in your letter, young lady?’
Megan waited for the next few weeks and for the next few weeks she retired with unanswered letter. I will have my answers one day, she comforted herself. Lui, in the neighboring room, had also been ruminating for the past weeks. Only she could end the agony in both rooms, as well as in the room of her mother, who prayed every night for the happiness of her daughter and granddaughter. It’s been years since Megan wrote her unanswered letter; she was now in her teens. And on her sixteenth birthday she received her most wanted gift: the answer to her letter. Six years after she wrote it she finally got her answer and it was even better. Her letter was published in the newspaper and below it was the answer she’d been wondering about for the past years. Everyone knows that the newspaper is one of the most powerful means of communication. It tells the world’s most exciting story and now her story was being read by the people – may they be teenagers or grownups - across the country. Megan hoped to inspire people with her story where one part read: You can’t please everyone. I couldn’t please my own mother that she left me. But there will always be other people willing to accept you for who or what you are.
Megan framed the article that read her story and hung it on her wall. And every night before she went to bed she would read it and every night this part of the letter would put a smile on her face:
You wanted to know what your mother looked like or what she’s like, but the truth is you already knew the answer to your curiosities because you’ve been living with her your entire life. A mother doesn’t mean the person who carried you for nine months or less in her womb and then leaves you all alone in this harsh world, but rather a mother is the person who wakes up in the middle of the night to change your diaper, the person who watches you grow up, and the person who sticks with you no matter what the world brings.
‘I love you, Mommy Lui. Thank you.’ That night Megan lay next to Lui, who fell asleep while mending her daughter’s torn skirt. She might’ve not told Megan the truth but in her own little way and through the motherly instinct she’d come to acknowledge, Lui was giving her best to fill the position she once hated as a teenager. Her answer to Megan’s letter was one of her little ways.