This was my first night with my newly married wife, Hye-jin. After the hustle and bustle of the wedding, Hye-jin and I were led to our decorated, flower-filled bed. I dreamt it would be the best of my times, I’d have lots to do and lots to say—to invite my partner to my life, start a brand-new world with her. Alas, I couldn’t get her attention; she didn’t see eye to eye with me as regards our future. To me, Hye-jin appeared to be a Frowning Tigress—how could I dare to stare at Her Majesty’s face?
Hye-jin referred to her parents, Kyung-soo and Jeong-ja, as GemDaddy and GemMummy, and so did I. The day after our wedding night, GemDaddy announced that Hye-jin wouldn’t accompany me to my workplace, Busan; she’d stay at his residence to do her masters at the university. My parents and I didn’t like the idea, yet we couldn’t discourage Hye-jin from going to university.
As I couldn’t get Hye-jin to my nest at Busan, I invited Papa and Mamma there. My intention was to take care of my aged parents, but it was they who looked after their bachelor son instead. Since Ji-woo and her son, Seung-hyun, had been living with my parents at Gyeongju, they came as well to my quarters at Busan. My parents almost took care of my kitchen and grocery; the home of Gyeongju was virtually transported to my nest at Busan.
Next, when Hye-jin came to Busan during her university holidays to see my hospitalised Papa, ‘Life of Pi’ was spawned on my Busan nest. I discovered that Tigress wasn’t concerned for anyone in my Busan boat—not for me, not even for my sick Papa; she was missing the feast with tigers at her home Forest Daegu. The only means of communication from Busan to Forest was via the talking bird Mynah. Tigress whispered messages to the ear of a Mynah, put that Mynah in a cage and handed it over to me. I had to go to the adjacent boat, where Papa was hospitalised, and let the Mynah fly away to Forest; Tigress couldn’t go to that adjacent boat.
Mynahs sent from Forest would land into our boat directly and anyone in my boat, including Tigress, could pick up the Mynah and listen to the messages.
One day, Tigress asked me to send a Mynah to TigerRegan in Forest. I asked her why to TigerRegan again—I’d sent a Mynah to him earlier in the day. She said she remembered something new.
Before sending that Mynah off, I found that a Mynah from TigerRegan had just arrived in our boat. I took both Mynahs, one sent from Tigress and the other received from TigerRegan, with me to the adjacent boat. Before seeing my hospitalised Papa there, I was curious about frequent Mynahs between Tigress and TigerRegan. I thought I’d listen to TigerRegan’s Mynah before handing over to Tigress and also listen to Tigress’s Mynah before sending off to TigerRegan.
When I listened to TigerRegan’s Mynah, I visualised a vivid picture of his physical intimacy with Tigress: he, sitting on a chair, asked Tigress to come over and sit on his lap, keeping her legs on both sides of TigerRegan. Tigress greedily obliged to arouse him. TigerRegan was proudly confident that Tigress was pregnant with his child. He exclaimed, ‘My horse has won the race!’
Before sending off the Mynah from Tigress, I tapped the Mynah and listened to what Mynah was supposed to deliver to TigerRegan. I got an even bigger shock to go through Tigress’s narration of events with TigerRegan. I couldn’t believe how Tigress had relished every detail of her intercourse with TigerRegan. She was, as Mynah replicated, sorry and relieved at the same time that she wasn’t pregnant to TigerRegan. She’d menstruated that day. That made her send the second Mynah to TigerRegan on the same day. She promised to fulfil his desire soon, with exclamations of intense love. I sent off the Mynah to TigerRegan and sent another Mynah to TigressDaddy also in Forest, requesting him to catch TigerRegan red-handed.
Unfortunately, TigressDaddy couldn’t track the Mynah delivered to TigerRegan, but he advised me to listen to all her incoming and outgoing Mynahs. I abided by his instructions and listened to many Mynahs flying between Busan and Forest. I came to know that Tigress had made herself available to two other tigers in her home forest and she shunned the domestic life of a housewife. I felt my boat was lost in the ocean and I had to share my boat with Tigress; I had to protect her from getting drowned, at the same time I had to safeguard the health of other animals in the boat—my old parents, my sister Ji-woo and her son, Seung-hyun. I had a big dilemma here and shared only with TigressDaddy and, at his request, I opted to forgive Tigress and carry on.
After her MA exams, Hye-jin joined me at Busan, but her body and soul were never accessible. I was then fully convinced about the futility of marriage and started meditating on prospects of a society without marriage. The real life, however, was far from my visions; I needed to reconcile my relationships with Hye-jin and her parents. I found a job at Chuncheon, a town far way from Busan and from the home town of Hye-jin and myself. But a move to Chuncheon meant releasing the four-bedroom quarter at Busan. Now I had a difficult question to answer: ‘Should I take Papa, Mamma, Ji-woo and Seung-hyun to Chuncheon, where I’m uncertain of my own stay? Should I get them back to Gyeongju, where they used to live?’ I requested Suk-hwan if he could accommodate them in his three-bedroom apartment in Buyeo. Suk-hwan agreed to accommodate them till I could have enough rooms for our parents.
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