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Imi was born and raised in Europe, Hungary. After finishing his school years, he moved to Canada to search for a better life. He lived in Toronto for 13 years and currently resides in Vancouver. He is a romantic at heart with a strong desire to always do the right thing. He would like to give hope to the Chinese and Asian ladies with his story and send a message that love eventually finds everybody.
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Under the Old Oak Tree, Shadows Hold Tight (Part 2)    

By Imi
429 Views | 6 Comments | 4/25/2019 3:58:30 AM

Inside was cool, quiet, and fuggy. Perhaps too quiet and too fuggy. But what did I expect? It was a nursing home, not a nursery school. No one was supposed to run around, tug your coat, and make funny faces at you.

 

I stood in a badly-lit lobby. I guess, after sizing up the place—as much as I could in the semidarkness—I could call it a normal lobby, though the term “normal” can be interpreted in several ways. It really depends on the individual, I’d say. To me, the lobby looked normal. I saw no scythes hanging from the walls as I very much expected to be normal in The Grim Reaper’s castle.

 

Before me, two curved staircases led to the second floor. To my left, a massive wood door blocked my eyes from wandering any farther, and to my right, a tinted white glass door, reading “Office” on it, was ajar. While I hesitated in the lobby, the office door fully opened, and out came a woman, carrying thick files in her arms. When she saw me, she yelled out, startled, “Oh, my gracious Lord in heaven!” before measuring me up from head to toe and cautiously walking over where I stood. She was around my age and a bit overweight with ordinary features and thick glasses that made her brown eyes huge like the eyes of a doe.

 

“May I help you?” she asked, a little . . . irritated?

 

I entirely dismissed the idea that my presence made her annoyed. My best guess was that the place had something to do with it. After learning of the actual operation of the place, it began to freak me out too, with all its perfection, uncared-for fountain, disappearing caretaker, and depressed inside. And I had only been there for five minutes. The woman had to work there, who knows how many days a week, so no wonder she was irritated by me. Another lost soul was all I to her who tried to bring additional nuisance into her already displeased life. I explained why I was there, after which, she looked even moodier.

 

“You have to call first and make an appointment. You can’t just walk in here, unannounced,” she said.

 

For the woman’s frustration and furrowed eyebrows, I blamed the waitress. She should have warned me about the place and its set of rules. I apologized for my “incursion” and politely asked the woman if she could make an exception this time and let me see my friend’s mother for a few minutes since I traveled a great distance just to be there.

 

Behind her thick glasses, the woman’s frown began to soften a bit that also took the edge off her face and even made her attractive in her own way. While she thought about how to address my request, her posture became relaxed and began to rest her weight on one leg that made her voluptuous hip curve to the side invitingly. She switched the thick files she held against her chest from two arms to her right arm. As little and insignificant maneuver as it was, it still allowed my eyes to have a quick glance at the pair of serious bulginess on her front. She overtly smiled at my minor indecency, and I felt a hint of embarrassment glaze my face ever so slightly. I could only hope my discomfort wasn’t as evident as I thought it might have.

 

“Okay, wait here! I’ll go and get the lady you’re here for,” said the woman in a friendly tone now, and then she turned around and climbed one of the staircases up to the second floor. I didn’t mean to look, but there was nothing else to look but her round bottom. Moving from side to side, it had a sort of confab with me from under her white uniform as she was taking the steps: “I know you’re looking at me. Do you like what you see? You are way too easy to read. Every man is the same. You’re not in the least different from them.”

 

She was overweight but shapely. It was pleasing to look at her figure from behind, I had to admit. On the last step, she turned her head and looked back at me. I couldn’t read her expression (she was on the top of the staircase, standing in the dark), but my intuition told me she didn’t just look back to check if I carried out her instruction and stayed in the lobby. I’ve never been with a chubby woman in my life but have experienced on numerous occasions, they were drawn to me more than their slender counterparts for a reason I couldn’t quite figure out.

 

My thoughts of sexual nature hardly had the time to get sanitized by my fixed stare at the very bad replication of a famous painting on the wall when I saw her again on the stairs with an old lady on her side.

 

Slowly descending, the two women were careful with their steps. Halfway down, they had to take a few-second break on one of the steps. When they finally reached the lobby, they both looked exhausted, regardless, one by age, the other by the physical effort she had to put in for their successful descent. They exchanged a few quick words, after which the caretaker quietly vanished behind the office door, and the waitress’s mother, whose name was Claudia, greeted me with a smile.

 

Claudia was old. Over eighty would have been my opening guess if someone asked me. Wrinkles around her mouth and eyes and her face, in general, took away all the sense of her elation regardless of the curl of her lips. It was only her eyes, light blue in color, that showed genuine pleasure seeing me there. She wore a faded housecoat that matched with the color of her eyes and sagged on her body in a way that you could have easily confused her with an apparition in that gloom.

 

We greeted each other by shaking hands, and Claudia was eager to recommend going outside and sitting on a bench. As soon as I agreed with her suggestion, her blue eyes got some of its vigor back, and her face began to lose its sickly yellow color. Holding my right arm for support, we walked out into an early-afternoon sunshine and light breeze.

 

She led me to a bench under one of the oak trees in the front yard where we sat down, and I immediately gave the envelope with the money to her. She thanked me for taking the time and bringing it to her, and then a few minutes went by as we sat in silence. Claudia closed her eyes and enjoyed the light breeze in her silver hair. Whether she was troubled or not by some of her locks that got into her face she showed no sign at all. Tousled, she conveniently sat beside me.

 

“This is my favorite spot,” she said in a small voice and without making any effort to open her eyes.

 

I didn’t know if I was supposed to respond to that, so I kept quiet and waited for her to go on, but she didn’t. Instead, she lazily raised her chin higher toward the incoming warm draft of air. The seconds dragged on and gradually stretched into minutes. Shamelessly, a flock of pigeons began cooing over our heads in the foliage as if discussing the events of the day—perhaps ranting about crapping into the mouth of the fish statue earlier. The chubby nurse with the round bottom opened a downstairs window, and after verifying our activity, she closed it. The rented Opel was losing its original color under the buildup of the dust and became a shelter for a house cat from the sun. The tawny feline was lying under it, its head bobbing intermittently, eyes dull, closing every so often.

 

I drew the conclusion that my promise was fulfilled, and I might as well say goodbye to Claudia. She, however, as if reading my mind, thought differently. She opened her eyes and went on, “I can see my window from here,” she said, pointing at one of the windows on the second floor. “It’s easy to find. The one with the white curtains and green blinds.”

 

Once again, I was at a loss for a decent answer and only assured her that I could see her window. Then, just as I finished my sentence, Claudia turned to me as she sat on the bench and touched my knee with her hand.

 

“It might sound strange, but I’ve been wondering if I may hug you,” she said without the least of awkwardness in her voice.

 

She must have seen the dim-witted expression on my face because she hastened to clarify her slightly unusual request.

 

“I sense that you’re ready to go. I know you’ve probably got better things to do than sitting with an old woman on a bench in a never-heard-of place. What I meant was, before you go, a hug would be nice, don’t you think?”

 

I was thirty-five when I met Claudia. She showed up in my life only for a very short moment. For fifteen years, the memory of the meeting had hidden inside me, unexplained, waiting for the right time—perhaps when I gained enough wisdom to put in plain words the encounter—to re-emerge.

 

When I was ready to leave, we both stood up and hugged. Being a head shorter than me, Claudia folded her arms around my waist and buried her face in my chest. Almost immediately, she began to cry. I didn’t hear it at first. I only felt her body trembling and tears drenching my shirt.

 

Holding her body close to mine was like holding a life-size puppet in my arms. I felt that there wasn’t much life left in her. She was skin and bones and must have felt abandoned like an injured old animal on the side of the trail. From where we stood, I could see the uncared-for fountain and a large part of the healthy green lawn. Suddenly, I began to cry too and couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried. My pride left my body, and I wept like a child.

 

It wasn’t hard to realize why Claudia cried. She was afraid of dying alone, confined, surrounded by people she hardly knew. As much as I could tell, she didn’t care about the money. I gleaned from her reaction when she had taken it from me earlier that a hundred-dollar bill meant as much to her as a book certificate to a blind man. A visit, a hug, and a caring word were all the exchange values in that isolated place for easing the sense, even if for some seconds, of one’s total abandonment.

 

In desperation, Claudia must have convinced herself that I was one of the closest persons to her relatives, so she hugged me and let her tears fall. Without words, she lamented. Without words, she told me everything there was to know about her adverse situation. Without words, she also made me realize that there would only be one place in the entire world that would forever understand me without saying a single word. And that is my country, Hungary, and its people.

 

I’m fifty now, and recently, it occurred to me that I definitely have to flee once again, probably in the near future, most likely back to Hungary. I’m only a living shadow in Canada—a shadow in an overblown, phony, and misleading glamour, wandering in the reeking fume of lies while trying to find a solution for a happier life.

 

On that day when I took Claudia in my arms and cried, I cried because I felt her loneliness. It seeped into my conscience. Her isolation reflected my own seclusion in a foreign country. That country, Canada, even though I came to love some parts of it, would forever remain a foreign kingdom to me.

 

I’m not sure if Claudia is still alive. If she is, she has to be close to a hundred or more. At her age, fifteen years have to feel like fifteen-pound shackles being added to each of her ankles of each passing year. They can slow you down to a pace that could be dangerous in a destructive and turbulent world like the one as of late.

 

We stood like that, quietly crying in a close embrace, for an imperceptible time. We fed each other’s tears with our own sorrows. With the afternoon sun, our shadows grew with the shadow of the oak tree itself. The pigeons overhead took flight, and everything sank into absolute silence. As the light breeze was trying to wipe off our tears, I watched our shadows extending freely like no other place on Earth.

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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(Showing 1 to 6 of 6) 1
#2019-04-25 03:58:21 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

The first thing you did in this post is introduce a new word to me. I have never heard of the word "fuggy" before, so I looked it up. Here's is what I got:

fug·gy

/ˈfəɡē/

adjectiveINFORMAL•BRITISH

(of a room or atmosphere) warm, stuffy, or smoky.

"it was fuggy in the cabin"

synonyms: stuffy, smoky, close, muggy, stale, fusty, unventilated, airless, suffocating, stifling, oppressive;

I am guessing many of our Brits knew this word, and perhaps our Aussies too, but I had never heard it in Canada, the US nor in my time in China. Certainly not in my more recent stay in South America. While my Chinese/Aussie wife had heard it she has never said it in my presence.

Which left me curious how a Hungarian/Canadian imported it ino his vocabulary. But being in the lower mainland of Canada, no doubt you have been in the presence of many immigrants or visitors from the British Isles so maybe you picked it up among them. 

The second, and far more important thing you did with this post, is awaken within me a yearning to return to my home. To my Canada.

Your lonely seclusion within that foreign kingdom has become my lonely seclusion anywhere else. That feeling has knawed at me beneath the surface now for a couple of years, but your discription of your amazing moments with Claudia and the release you felt somehow also released this need in me to return home to come tumbling into my conscious mind.

I am not sure whether to thank you or to damn you for that, but it will now be my goal even though it may take some time to achieve.

Cheers on you Imi, for a story well told. 

#2019-04-25 16:01:49 by oldghost @oldghost

@JohnAbbott knaw? gnaw!  (sorry)  fuggy (and fusty and musty for that matter) are familiar but (almost) never used words; muggy occasionally.  Mould and humidity come to mind when I see them, and perhaps Edgar Allan Poe too.

Some of the writing is really good, but occasionally a surprising word intrudes, seemingly inapposite - confab, crapping, fuggy (yes), freak out, dim-witted for example.  Just my opinion of course and probably sound related!  How can crepuscular be a word to describe the dawn dusk twilight I ask you!

#2019-04-25 18:43:10 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

I have also never before heard the word 'fuggy'

Nice story, Imi.

#2019-04-28 03:33:08 by kalzorch @kalzorch

Nice story, well written.  It would have been perfect if she had given you back the money, because that hug was worth every penny.

#2019-05-05 20:32:33 by melcyan @melcyan

Imi, when I read this story I could not help comparing the lives of Claudia and my partner’s mama. Mama’s life is so much better. We all need a cultural connection. We all need a family connection. My partner’s mama has a much stronger connection with Chinese culture and her own family living in Australia than what she would have had if she lived her final years in China.

 

I feel sorry for Claudia. I met a woman in similar circumstances in an aged care facility in Shanghai. This woman was also traumatised and felt "abandoned" by her children.

#2019-05-11 09:30:44 by Barry1 @Barry1

 

@imi5922

"recently, it occurred to me that I definitely have to flee once again, probably in the near future, most likely back to Hungary. I’m only a living shadow in Canada—a shadow in an overblown, phony, and misleading glamour, wandering in the reeking fume of lies while trying to find a solution for a happier life"


A touching story, thanks Imi.

Yet I'm both disturbed yet happy about the wrods above. That you may be seriously considering returning to Hungary. 

Disturbed because what effect will this have on your marraige? Where will it leave you financially, when eventually you have to retire?

Happy because you will be closer to your homeland, your childhood memories, your extended family and long term friends. 

If Canada doesn't suit you long term, have you considered living in China, close to Janessa's family? Why I say this is the cost of living there would be cheap, although I guess living in Hungary would be much cheaper than Canada also.

Or maybe split the difference - six months in China followed by six months in Canada?  Though employment here rears its ugly head. What would you do for work in an otherwise ideal scenario such as this?

Anyway Imi, my thoughts and best wishes are with you. You and Janessa are always welcome to visit me in Australia, if ever you get the opportunity.

Cheers mate.   (y)

 

 

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