An Ingrate Like Me

Qualified Entry: Fiction Category

By: Jeriel Ng

“Ingrates like you aren’t welcomed around our house.”

That was the last thing my mother said to me before I moved out. At the time, it wasn’t exactly the most hurtful thing I’d heard because, in all honesty, she had been saying things of similar nature to me all my life. Why would I have thought anything about it? But now, as I stand at the doorstep of what was once my home, I begin to truly wonder whether that statement ever held any truth. The way I remember it, that disagreement we had on that last day together wasn’t ordinary at all. In fact, it was perhaps the worst way to part with my parents. Perhaps I should do a little bit of recapping. It was only about three years ago that I moved out and onto college. Normally, most people would move into a college nearby or maybe one that wasn’t too far away. As for myself, however, I moved out of the country. I thought it’d be a nice change to travel to some other nation – some other nation like England.

Before I continue, I do have to say that I’ve always been fascinated with British culture. There are always the stereotypes of prim and proper individuals who eat only fish and chips on a daily basis. Of course, that’s not necessarily the case, but I preferred to think so, anyway. What I found was a society much like our own with its own slight cultural differences. But that’s beside the point. The point I’m trying to make here is that my parents naturally assumed that the only reason I wanted to move out of the country was to move as far away from them as possible.

Really, it disappoints me to see how quickly they’ve always jumped to conclusions about the way I act. Do they even know me that well? Alright, so maybe I did want to distance myself from them, but that wasn’t the primary fuel for my cause. I genuinely wanted to discover other cultures for myself.

So now, as I find myself back home, I can only wonder how they would react to my long-awaited return. With the push of a button, I hear the doorbell ring throughout the house.

It only takes a few seconds before they answer me. My father comes out to offer what I take as a generally warm welcome. But he’s the least of my concerns right now. However, don’t get me wrong; I’m certainly glad to see him once again.

As we embrace, he tells me, “It’s been so long.”

“I know,” I answer. “I know.”

“I can’t believe you’re back! Tell me all about your time there!”

“Well, I will. I promise!” With a laugh, I add, “Can I come in?”

“Sure, sure. What kind of host would I be if I said no?”

As we step inside, I take my coat off and hang it up. My father helps me with my bags, and it’s not long before we’re settled down on the couch.

I take a gaze at my father’s face, and it really amazes me to see how much he’s aged. The once dark hair on his head has gradually faded into a mixed brown and gray. Though the wrinkles under his eyes have become ever more apparent, his eyes still tell the story of his jovial life. I’ve always envied how light-hearted he is all the time. But as each moment passes, I can see the light on his face gradually fade into a half-smile.

“Is something wrong?” I ask him.

He frowns and hesitates for a moment.

“Dad?” I ask again.

“I guess you were expecting your mother, too, weren’t you?”

By this point, I can already guess what will come next. My heart begins to sting a little. However, I allow him to carry on.

“Your mother passed away this summer,” he said, his face now entirely solemn. “She had a heart attack, just like your grandmother did several years ago. I didn’t want to say anything about it because I never heard from you all these years. I figured you were happy over there, so I didn’t say anything. I’m really sorry.”

I can’t even come to comprehend the situation. My mind is trying so hard to rationalize the situation, but my heart is denying it from doing so. “Why . . . Why didn’t you tell me? You didn’t call or write or anything? Why did you keep this from me?”

“I just told you.”

I hesitate a moment. “But that’s still no reason to hold that from me. You have to tell me these things! You can’t just hide them from me forever.”

“I know. I know. I’m sorry.”

And as I stand there, my eyes tearing up, I remember the last words my ever said to me: “Ingrates like you aren’t welcomed around our house.”

How I wish we had ended on a better note.