I am So Sad I Am Unable To Study
On an overcast Sunday afternoon, Oceané sat in her bedroom reading and trying to focus on her studies when she heard her parents starting to argue. Her exams were only a week away, and yet she had to endure daily disruptions to her studies as tensions reached breaking point in the house. Both her parents had continued to argue on a daily basis, which always climaxed with screams and shouts. As she sat listening to the argument intensify, she wondered how she would ever create the conditions conducive to achieving a set of good exam results. A few moments later, Oceané realized Lucy was standing in the hallway, trying to follow the argument between their two parents.
“Lucy,” Oceané whispered. “Come in here and sit with me. It is better not to get involved.”
“Leave me alone,” snapped Lucy ferociously, not comprehending the damage that would result from getting involved in an argument she didn’t understand. “I want to be with Mum,” she hissed, before running to join her mother.
Oceané sighed with frustration and returned to her desk, gazing out of the window as she tried to block out the tension and distress arising from her parents’ heated attacks. Her eyes returned to the page she had been studying, but her heart was empty and desolate. Every year close to exam time, the arguments between her parents would increase in intensity and frequency. With the house full of tension and distress, Oceané found it impossible to concentrate in such a fractured environment.
As she sat in her chair trying to concentrate, she could feel herself getting inextricably caught up in the daily drama and tension of her parents failing marriage and gradually, her enthusiasm to study and memorize the material in front of her eroded away. Grace, Edward and Lucy were all ignorant of the absolutely damaging effects of their own ignorance, attachment and hatred. Unable to settle their disputes in a quiet and reasonable manner, daily fights and arguments were the norm, creating an unhappy and deeply disturbing environment for all concerned.
Edward had been having affairs with various women for many years, and all the ensuing unhappiness surrounding that had worn away at Grace’s health, leaving her in a state that could only be described something very close to death. Unable to see a clear path forward, nor a happy future, Oceané’s heart sank in despair. Although she knew both parents expected the best from her, Oceané struggled to find a path to inner peace and happiness.
As the screaming continued, Oceané found that she too became focused upon the content of her parents’ argument.
“I want a divorce,” cried Grace.
“You can have your f…king divorce,” Edward replied. “Take your two children and get the hell out of my life.”
“Aren’t you forgetting they are also your children?” Grace demanded.
“I don’t give a stuff about the children. You turned them away from me a long time ago.”
“Your alcoholic habits are the cause for all the damage,” Grace replied bitterly.
“Fuck you,” he screamed. “Get the hell out of my house!”
“This is my house,” cried Grace.
“Not any more it isn’t. I got you to sign over the assets that were in your name when you were too f…king weak and stupid to know what you were doing.”
Oceané jumped from her seat. Realizing Edward had gone too far, she ran down the hallway to the living room and into the maelstrom unfolding all around her.
“What the hell is going on?’ Oceané cried. “Have you both gone completely mad? I am trying to study and you are not giving me a single chance to get anything done with this constant screaming and fighting. My exams are next week, and I can’t concentrate with you both at each other’s throats. I really can’t stand it anymore Dad. You’re threatening to take away our home and run off with that horrible tart who is only trying to take you for all your money, and yet you still demand high results from me despite the fact there is mayhem all around.”
“And what about you, Mum? Can’t you just try to ignore his attacks and not respond to his attempts to provoke you?”
“Oh, he is doing far more than that, Oceané. He has already emptied the family trust of the money that was set aside for you and Lucy’s future. His aim is to leave us with nothing.”
“You got what you deserve,” barked Edward.
“Stop it,” cried Oceané. “Do you want me to end it all now?” she cried as she picked up a large knife that lay on the kitchen table. “I have had enough. This fighting has been going on for years and years. I don’t have a hope of being able to focus clearly with this hell going on around me and a family disintegrating before my very eyes. Can’t you see how selfish you both are being? Why do you always ramp up the fights right around the time of my exams? Are you purposely trying to put me off my studies?”
“Oceané, put the knife down,” cried Grace in an empty and dispassionate tone of voice.
“Why? Why should I behave responsibly when you two are going crazy and refusing to sort things out in a calm and civilized manner? I’ll withdraw this threat when you bring some peace and stability back into our lives. Otherwise, there is no point hanging around. I can’t bear to hear this day after day, year after year. You do this to me every time I have work to do and need some peace and quiet. You expect me to be responsible? Well how about setting a better example for your children to follow?”
“See what you’ve done, Edward?” cried Grace.
“Don’t blame me, you f..cking stupid bitch,” he thundered, while reaching for another glass of scotch.
Oceané looked at them both in despair. “Well, I can see neither of you have any intention of changing,” said Oceané as she slammed down the knife in disgust and burst into tears. “I’m leaving,” she said, before running back to her room.
Crying and sobbing, Oceané blindly grabbed her small canvas wallet, checking through the wall of tears streaming from her eyes to see if she had enough money for a train ride to the other side of town. She grabbed her school bag and some clothes before running to the front door, just as her mother appeared behind her.
“Wait, Oceané, wait! Where are you going? Don’t leave me here on my own.”
“What is the point of staying Mum?” Oceané sobbed, gasping for breath as her sobbing became more uncontrolled. “You will never get it together with Dad. I can’t live with this aggressive arguing and abuse anymore. How can I work and be happy with both of you tearing each other to pieces day after day? You need to leave him Mum,” Oceané continued, “or you won’t have anything left of your life to save. He is going to take us all to the cleaners and he doesn’t mind if he buries you along the way. Look at yourself. You’re a nervous wreck and you’re health won’t hold up much longer under these conditions.” She focused intently on her mother’s eyes to see if her message was getting through. “It’s over Mum. We have to get out while we can. He doesn’t care about us anymore. He only wants to live with that horrible home wrecker he is now hitched up with. So please, let’s go while we still have a chance.”
There was a moment’s silence as Oceané and Grace stood looking at each other, with Oceané wondering if her mother had fully realized that the end had indeed come for their life together as a family. Their life together could be characterized as deeply turbulent, and materially focused, with no insights or understanding whatsoever into their true spiritual potential and innate abilities to each achieve deep states of inner peace, happiness and freedom.
“I am going to stay with some friends for a few days,” Oceané continued. “I need to get out of this horrible atmosphere. I have exams to focus on Mum. Can’t you see it is impossible to work here under these conditions?”
“Where are you going to stay, Oceané? Please don’t leave.”
“I don’t know where I’m going,” Oceané cried helplessly. My friends don’t really care about me either. They are only interested in distracting me too, and making sure we make life at school just a place for games and fun, rather than using the opportunity we have to actually learn something useful. I will go somewhere that’s a bit more peaceful and harmonious than here, so I can find somewhere to relax.”
Turning away, she walked down the pathway towards the street. Oceané knew her plan was flawed and perhaps a pathetic means of finding a solution, but she wanted to make a point. Feeling as though she couldn’t bear to be in her parents company for a moment longer, she walked towards a train that was already waiting at the station. Although she knew she had nowhere stable to go, and no refuge or means to secure real freedom from the miserable state she found herself in, she continued to walk away from her family home, towards a cold and desolate world, which in reality was no different from the unhappiness she was trying to leave behind. A bitter wind cut through her bones and bit at her nose and ears. Everything appeared totally lifeless and grey, as though she was surrounded by a sea full of desolate concrete and steel, with nothing to protect her from the pain in her heart, or from the acute and dark well of suffering and despair.
Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019
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