Wednesday, June 16, 2010


*I wrote this story in 2009 for a book my writing club, Aksara, was publishing. It's based on real facts and true experiences that I witnessed myself. The title is based on the analogy of the adamantine, which is a substance that is commonly compared to a diamond, because of its texture and material. Despite the twin-like similarities, it would never really be a diamond.


They say that life is an ever-turning wheel. Sometimes you’re at the top, at the prime of your times. But other times you’re stuck at the bottom, in the pit of misery and catastrophe. They say sometimes. But I say it’s not as simple as that.

I think there is a good reason why people believe in rotten luck. In doomed fate. In being condemned for the worst. In being damned for the rest of your life. It’s just the role that our supposed “God” has given you. And you are forced to be the victim of balance. If there is a good, you are the bad.

I was born as “the other child”, the one who came out second, approximately 13 seconds after my sister, Nina. Yeah, I was second and continued to be second in everything. Looks. Intelligence. Preference. Talents. We did have similarities, but she was just always better. No, Nina was perfect. And I was just a minor alternative. A product of excessive flesh and bone in my mother’s womb that was given a doomed soul.

Nina was always nice. The teacher’s pet. The popular star. The admired. The blessed. And this was so effortlessly gained because that was just how she was created to be. As for me, I just tried. Then I gave up. I waited for the wheel to turn. But it never did. For the many years of my life, it never did.

Nina breezed through school with perfect marks, gained a bunch of trophies, and married a dignified man. They lived abroad for some years while her husband got his PhD. They had some sweet kids, pretty good-looking and smart like them, who got the chance to go to school abroad too. So when they finally came back, it was quite a welcoming they got. They were celebrities in our area. A role model family adored and envied by everyone.

On the other hand, my school life was mediocre. My achievements so far are too insignificant compared to my sister’s. I got married to my high-school-sweetheart in the middle of college, had two kids with him, and divorced him 12 years later because we just couldn’t talk civilly to each other anymore. I’m glad I did too because he lost his job a few months after and had to resort to making homemade ice cream for a living.

Unfortunately, my son chose him over me. It was quite a bad choice too, because my ex-husband remarried to a conceited and selfish bitch that treats my son like a parasite.

Meanwhile, I was busy with my own complicated affairs so I didn’t know about my son’s condition until a few years later. I was on my hands and feet looking for a place to stay and a steady job to support myself and my twelve-year-old daughter. It was a hard time. I stayed at my mother’s house and opened a beauty parlor in the guest room. But I had to sadly terminate the business because of a bastard who gave me an outrageous interest rate for my loans. He gave Nina another chance to save the day and kiss-ass by paying all my debts for me. So I forced myself to smile sweetly and nearly broke a nerve thanking her for the hundredth time she played my hero. It made me lose the desire to continue the business altogether.

Luckily, my daughter could continue school and seemed to do okay. So I let her be and decided to pick myself up, find new acquaintances, get a life, and start anew. I met a good-looking fellow when I was shopping one day and we hit it off. He met my every need. He satisfied me. We got married 3 months later and moved to his apartment across the state.

Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t seem to like him. She showed me this by being an ungrateful wretch, denying all the gifts and leisure’s my new husband offered her. She regarded me with disrespect and a disposition close to hatred. Me. Her mother! So many times I thought that I should’ve left her to her father instead. But she graduated from high school soon enough and took off to fend for herself. I haven’t heard from her since.

For a couple of years after that, nothing bad happened. I really thought that things were turning up for me. But little did I know that a bomb was ticking and I was running out of time to save myself. In the end the bomb did explode. My life exploded. He left me. One morning he packed his bags and said he had to go. He had some affairs to attend to. But he gave me one look before he went out of the door, one hollow look, and I knew that he wouldn’t be coming back.

I didn’t cry. I didn’t even call him and beg him on my knees to come back. Our relationship was just not as it used to be. The passion was gone. He was bored. I was bored. We both knew we couldn’t satisfy each other anymore. And I understood from long ago that I was just not meant to live soundly, find true love, and live together in a “happily-ever-after” scenario. No, that happy fate was bestowed upon my sister, Nina. Not me.

Again, I picked myself up and tried to find bits of life that I could grasp that made life worth living. I decided to go to my first husband’s house to see my son. I hadn’t seen and heard from him for 5 years. I was still his mother after all so I did miss him even though he did betray me for his no-good father.

My first husband’s house was shabbier than ever, even more worse-off than I’d last seen it. I could see that his little business wasn’t getting him anywhere. He greeted me very awkwardly, offering me helpings of his own ice cream as a pathetic gesture of courtesy. I went straight to the point and asked to see my son. Instead of giving me a clear answer, he burst into tears and apologized repeatedly, mumbling something about failing to raise his own son and make him happy. Then he told me what had become of him.

My son was always a patient boy. He was always good, accepting. He rarely whined or cried. But life really was too harsh for him. Poverty was always something he had to face, ever since he was born. Love and care was hard to get. Even harder after the divorce and our separation.

I do realize that I wasn’t a very good mother. I spent too many hours with my gals every time I couldn’t stand seeing my husband anymore. I always arrived at home drunk, yelling at my husband and kids, and sleeping all day long. My daughter took to the housewifely duties. So my son was left with his sister and worthless father at home, doing God knows what, after school hours. Maybe that’s why he chose his father over me.

My ex-husband told me that our son wasn’t better off living with him. He had to help him sell his ice cream for hours on end after school, around the block, and even at his school. He was therefore known as “the ice cream boy”.

Home wasn’t home for him. His stepmother didn’t like him at all. The vicious woman deprived him the privilege of having his own room and stole all his allowance and pocket money from him. She made him spend some nights outside so that he was left to sleep in mosques, at his friend’s house, or at Nina’s place. Yes, my sister lived nearby.

Apparently the “little saint” wanted to adopt him but my son didn’t have the heart to leave his father, even though his stepmother never showed him any affection, or anything close to being nice for the past five years. He was her slave and private punch-bag, even when my ex-husband was around. But what did the man do when his son turned to him for protection? He said, “Just do as you’re told.”

My ex husband denied his own son the very last bit of salvation he had left. He destroyed the whole image of what parents were meant to be. He contributed to making life a dark and gloomy cell. So all my son could do was be patient and bid his time for freedom. And he did get it in the end.


When I seek for moments to smile and be happy about something in my life, I think of my son. I think about how it was never easy for him. I think of how he managed to keep holding on even when he didn’t have a real mother or father in his life. I savor on the fact that he is now an accomplished student who is worthy of a scholarship and support from a renowned university far across the continent. Far from the grasp of his witch stepmother. Far from his disappointing, good-for-nothing father. Far from me, the would-be mother.

Yes, I am an old widow and a failed mother. My children have forgotten me completely. I have never tried to contact them and I mean to keep doing so, out of shame. So since my mother died, I have lived on my own in my mother’s house which Nina so charitably left in my possession.

Today, I spend my hours on the verandah, in the old armchair my mother used to sit in, looking out into the green rice fields where the sun sets on the horizon. I am still thinking of how things could’ve been so much better, if in exactly 68 years of my life, I had been more accepting. I was constantly comparing myself to Nina, killing myself with jealousy, and despising her for everything that was never her fault. I knew she was good, but I never let the good come to me.

I long for Nina’s presence now, but she is no more that a memory. She passed away two years ago. It was a beautiful funeral, full of great people who loved her and will continue to love her, even after her death. But the prospect of my death haunts me. There’s no one here for me today. There won’t be anyone here tomorrow.


A cold breeze slips through the trees, creating ripples across the rice fields, making it seem as if a dark green sea is right there before my eyes. There is a rumble of a vehicle far off in the distance. It gets louder as two cars emerge, making its way around the rice fields and parks in front of the house. The doors open. The figures emerge, dark and shadowed under the evening sky. Their voices drift through the air.

“Are we there yet?”

“Hush, settle down now!”

“Yes, kids. We’re going to meet someone quite old. Be on your best behavior”.

“Who are we going to meet mom?”

“It’s been so long…”

“I know, dear.”

The doors slammed shut and the figures quietly approach, each step crushing the twigs and dry leaves blanketing the ground. The kerosene light from the veranda coats them, illuminating their figures, becoming distinct. Suddenly, one of the little ones ran across the distance that was left, up the steps, and into the veranda.

“Nina!” A man shouted and hurried after her.

I stared at the little girl and she looked back into my eyes. Those eyes. Eyes I knew only too well. Eyes that stared back in every memory.

I stood up as a man and a woman walked slowly up the steps. They had the same eyes.

“Hello, mother.”

The wheel does turn after all.

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