'I have seen your potential and I know you have more potential, but I haven't yet seen you bringing it to the maximum, Julia.'
The voice of my professor who is also my thesis advisor echoed in the class, left me ashamed before the curious and pitiful eyes of my classmates.
Yes, I'm a master degree student. I took this special weekend course because I couldn't quit my job just for studying.
'You should try to do better, Julia. I know you're working full-time too but how can you do the thesis without going to the library? Some information can't be found online.' She added.
'I'm trying my best, professor, but the movie achieve library is open only at weekdays so how could I go...'
I knew she was right, still I also have many other things to be worried about, not only this damn thesis.
'I'm sure you can take a half day off or some leaves.' She advised calmly, yet somehow I noticed disappointment in her voice.
I knew she had a point, but in this situation and my many conditions I don't have many choices.
'Don't forget to submit all your overdue assignments, Julia. It's been long due.'
I just felt my body shrank down to the size of a doll.
'You're so absent minded lately, Julia.' The managing director who is my direct boss sneered at me.
"Oh, here he goes again" I thought, groaned quietly.
'I am happy to work with you, but you missed many deadlines lately and didn't even pick my calls sometimes.'
If his stare was a knife it must have stabbed me throughout my body.
I was silent as deep down I knew he was right. My performance was much better before I started taking this master degree course.
It had been my dream since I was young to get Ph.D. and to study abroad.
However, due to my family financial condition, I had to work and couldn't just take a few years off for post-graduate study like many of my friends whose family could support them and responsibilities were not as high as mine.
Therefore instead of studying abroad, I could only manage to study in the country at the weekends.
'Anyway, due to Covid situation we have less income, so we have to cut off all employees' salary. Yours will be cut off by 30 percent. Please try to do better for the company so we can pass this together.'
He added and tried to give me a slight smile, knowing I had no choice but to accept it.
Who will take a risk losing the job right now? Less money is much better than no income. It's not easy to find a job during this pandemic.
Anyway I just can't help laughing inside at how he used "income" as an excuse to decrease employees' salary.
Not that I don't know how he took "income" directly into his pocket, but what can I say? He is the sole genuine shareholder. It is "his company" after all.
'No problem boss.' was my only answer.
'Honey, do you have like 1,000 Baht? Can you transfer for me? We don't have any more food in the fridge.' Asked my dad.
'Love, did you pay electricity bill? Did you pay house installment?' My mom added.
Since this pandemic, my parents lost ownership of the business they had been doing and have much less income. My brother who has been helping them is also affected and now jobless.
They were so proud of such "family business" but now as everything crumbled down, it's me whose job was "tiring and time-taking" in their opinion who still has income to support the whole family. Yes, that my decreased income.
This house we're living, it is actually my house, but under mortgage with the bank of course.
When my parents were doing their business they helped me like 30 percent of the monthly installment, but from now I'll have to pay alone.
Dad's voice rang again 'I still have monthly debt to pay, and now I don't have income anymore. If you have spare money could you....'
"If you have spare money" is the phrase I hate the most at the moment.
Well, Asian cultures are just like that. The parents gave you life and brought you up, so you must be grateful and repay them back until the day you die. They are Godlike for you.
Not that I don't love them, I do, but I am tired of taking care of the things that weren't made of my decision.
When being asked how they created such high amount of debt which seems to take more 20 years to settle, they said;
'It was the debt made long ago to build our family. It was used in the family to bring up both of you.'
I could only sigh and roll eyes, not in their presence of course. I would be such an ungrateful child to make such gestures in front of them.
What choices do I have?
'We miss you, Julia.' The text showed on my WhatsApp screen.
My guild members in one online mobile game I have been playing for over a year always say that in our group chat. Of course they must have missed me, I have been absent in game a lot lately and didn't really do the job of their guild leader.
That game was my favorite. I had a lot of good time there with my friends and my special someone. However, since he stopped playing and since I started to get busier, I somehow lost interest and got more detached each day goes by.
I, no, my account, is still there just only for the sake of my guild members, who of course are my friends. We have been through many things, laughing, crying and fighting together.
'Aku selalu busy sayangku.' I teased them in Indonesian with laughing emoji despite the fact that I'm not Indonesian. I learned some "Bahasa" because most of my guild members are from Indonesia.
My deputy leader sent crying and angry emojis back. 'I can't be a good leader like you. Please come back and be active.' She begged.
'But I'm online every day!' I defended myself.
'I know, but you're not active like before.' She insisted, and I knew she was right.
I sighed, closing my eyes to think about the happy moments I had with my friends, especially with my special someone there,
and I realized that the game could never be as fun as it used to be anymore, not without him & another deputy leader, one of my very few good friends whom I trust & who I had just demoted as she had been also too busy to play lately.
'I will play again if I get less busy.' I finally said, although still highly doubted if I could find fun there ever again.
The clock blinks; 4:30AM
"I miss him." I thought while crying.
Yes, he was the one who had always been supporting me to the maximum he could have done, but somehow I always f*cked up in this relationship.
The stress and emotions shouldn't be excuses for anyone to damage their relationship. Somehow, I lost control and said many things that hurt him, again, without considering things well. I should have communicated with him more to avoid misunderstandings.
'Is it ok to do and understand anything as you wanna understand???' He asked, and I could imagine his angry voice.
'No it's not, that's why I'm here to apologize...' I literally cried, but of course he couldn't have seen.
'Apologies not accepted.' He shrugged me off, and I cried even more.
Well, it was my fault and I really feel sorry that I hurt him, and eventually the fact that I hurt him hurts myself. I'm not mad at him but at myself.
I know it is the same old stupid mistake. He must have been tired of being with such a woman who always speaks without thinking like me. I don't blame him at all, this isn't the first time.
'I'm sorry I have hurt your feelings...' I apologized again another day.
'Doesn't matter.' He cut me off, but I knew he was still hurt. I cried silently, again, putting the blame at myself for all these things that happened.
With all such things happening in my life lately I just can't sleep at nights. I have to drink, and sometimes smoke, just to make me calm enough to sleep. I don't want to but without them I just can't sleep.
'Why you're hurting yourself for me?' He asked painfully after he knew what I have been doing.
'It wasn't for you. It was my self-punishment and self-solace.' I answered as much painfully.
'You so love self-punishment? Fine, watch and learn from the expert.' He said angrily and vanished into thin air.
I didn't dare nagging again as I knew he must totally be in a bad mood.
With hazy head that is tired enough, I finally fell asleep with the first dawn.
My last thought before entering to dreamland, where he awaited just like he does every night, was...
"I miss him."
Julia R. 26 July 2020