When Hye-jin returned from an overseas trip to Joo-won, she found another lady in Kun-woo’s place. As Hye-jin entered the lounge and placed her luggage there, that lady disappeared into Kun-woo’s bedroom. Soon Kun-woo came out and introduced the lady.
‘Hi Hye-jin, you haven’t forgotten Su-bin, my wife? And Su-bin, please meet your ringleader, Hye-jin. As discussed with you, she was a close friend of Chun-ja and started living here long before her death. I’ll take your luggage to the guestroom, Hye-jin, where you’ll stay now.’
Kun-woo took the luggage to the guestroom, followed by Hye-jin, carrying the lighter cabin bag, leaving Su-bin in the lounge. Kun-woo placed the heavy suitcase in the corner of the room. He turned and gripped Hye-jin’s waist, tossed her in the air and pressed her belly button against his lips.
‘Don’t, don’t please’, Hye-jin wanted to say, but her words were lost. She felt titillated and couldn’t but laugh at the tickling sensation. She laughed and laughed. She had never laughed so much since her days in primary school. Kun-woo slowly lowered her till she was on her feet. He grabbed her torso with both hands, pressed her against his bare chest and kissed her hard. For a while, Hye-jin forgot where she was. Kun-woo’s hairy chest was full of grey patches; she pressed hard on him. After a while she jerked herself free.
‘I have to go to the toilet and shower’, she said and disappeared into the ensuite bathroom.
Later in the day, Kun-woo, Su-bin and Hye-jin sat together at their dining table and shared a good meal. Stories and gossip about the tour and about themselves were more entertaining than the spicy dishes. Hye-jin wanted to retire to her room, relax, and empty her suitcase, so Kun-woo escorted her to the guestroom again. On entering the room, Hye-jin found the photos of Chun-ja and Jie-won now mounted on the wall of the guestroom.
‘I thought you’d like these photos more than Su-bin would, so I brought them here’, Kun-woo said.
‘Thank you, Kun-woo’, said Hye-jin. ‘How come Su-bin is here. Have you reconciled with her?’
‘Yes, I have. You might not know that Min-jun died the same month as Chun-ja died. My net income was much less as I needed to pay alimony to Su-bin. I wasn’t able to cope with your spending habits—I don’t earn that much. With Su-bin here, I don’t need to pay her anymore. She is strong and healthy and loves to work as I tell her. I might introduce her to my work, and she could be employed there as well. You know she is highly qualified. ’
Hye-jin couldn’t find any words to respond to Kun-woo.
Kun-woo continued, ‘You’re welcome to stay here, Hye-jin. I am addicted to your aura or smell—whatever you call it. I don’t think Su-bin would object. She was in the kitchen when I lifted you up. I’m grateful to you for your sincere help during Chun-ja’s illness’.
Kun-woo left the room leaving Hye-jin to rest and unpack her luggage.
‘What should I do now?’ Hye-jin moved to the photos of Jie-won and Chun-ja, as if asking their advice. ‘Should I continue to live here, under the eyes of Su-bin and Kun-woo, or should I go back to the place where I used to live with Jie-won? Where do I belong, Jie-won? Does anything belong to me, Chun-ja? Which boundaries restrict me?’
Hye-jin picked up a notebook, the pages of which were filled with Jie-won’s poems. At one time she thought she’d publish these poems, but she couldn’t make that happen. She chose a poem to read:
Days after days, spent dimes after dimes;
Toiled hard; roamed continents—many times.
Visited long, long ranges of mountains;
I wandered on beaches, oceans, fountains.
Yet you escaped my vision, bewitched my browse;
Could never hold and raise the tip of your blouse.
To discover the two beautiful mesmerising globes
And feel the apex on their two sweet sultana poles.
I know that you belong somewhere else, not to me, to us.
You believe as well, I belong to an omnibus—fictitious.
Yet there’s something in me that matches something in yours,
In our endeavours, dreams, meaningless demeanours.
You dream—you have wings to fly, disappear in the sky,
Get airborne to the home of your dreams, faraway, nearby.
I dream I amble through the forests, by the river to the sea.
You dream of heavens; I daydream the earth I want to see.
We’re living our dreams, though far from each other.
Would we love our dreams, if we remain together?
With the citizen of the world, our dreams, let us share.
The heaven, hell and earth; let the boundaries disappear.
Hye-jin finds herself restricted by boundaries, she is no more than a temporary guest in Kun-woo’s house while Su-bin belongs there as his wife. She can’t encroach into their family boundaries.
Hye-jin doesn’t get any answer from Chun-ja or Jie-won – photos don’t talk, they cannot tell her where she belongs. Hye-jin thinks of going back to to Jie-won’s study to meditate on Oneness, learn how Jie-won was so close, so near, yet so far, so different from his friends. This move may also bring her back to the same family boundaries that entrapped her after marriage with Jie-won.
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