Chapter 196: Chapter 196
Jooin spoke to me with a smile.
“Yeah, that’s me, mama.”
“I didn’t think that way.”
His smile was, at last, cut off this time. Looking at me with his eyes round open, Jooin’s face was slightly covered with a veil of naïveness as he usually did. I grinned and thought, ‘Yeah, so eventually, that’s whom Jooin is deep down.’
That was also Jooin’s true color.
“Mama, what did you just say?”
Jooin and my gaze sparked in the air. A bluish moonlight flew over our confrontation. I just stood still with a grin.
“No matter how much you and Eun Jiho won’t comprehend, I think you’re an easy person.”
A moment of silence went by. The moonlight leaked into the classroom and drew faint patterns on the shabby desks and the floor. The wind shook the distant branches. In the meantime, I quietly looked at Jooin in his pure brown eyes which often turned gold in the sunlight.
‘Ha…’ A sharp sigh then burst out.
“What the heck are you talking about?”
I cut off his words. Jooin lifted his eyes to look at me. The sign of fear in his gaze was too straightforward that it disconcerted me. Drawing my breath in short, I continued to speak.
“I think you don’t need to hurt yourself like that.”
“You may not be as bad as you think about yourself, Jooin. I convinced that you’re a way better person than your anticipation.”
“For what reason?”
Jooin spoke in a pale face that looked like that of a forsaken child. The wind hit the window again. Damp darkness sat down on his hand. Taking a deep breath, I chose the word to drop. As I failed to come across the appropriate words, I closed my eyes tightly.
‘Yeah, I’m not that kind of a person who has a way with words to talk about this topic. It would’ve been better if Eun Jiho was here instead of me,’ I thought.
Eun Jiho excelled especially in articulating abstract things. Jooin also said just now that how brilliant metaphor Eun Jiho used to describe himself.
‘No, but…’ I shook my head to brace myself. No matter how outstanding Eun Jiho was when articulating abstract things into words, there is something that he wasn’t able to see.
Eun Jiho, eventually, told me that he had no idea what was inside that answering machine. After all, only I could talk about this. With that thought in mind, I opened my eyes.
As if he got abandoned alone in the flow of time, Jooin was standing there in front of my sight with the same attitude as well as the same look on his face. His eyes were meeting mine. I opened my mouth.
“You said to me that you want revenge on those who hurt me.”
Jooin gave a nod. I kept on my words.
“Think about those people. They didn’t hurt you but me. You weren’t trying to avenge for yourself.”
Jooin shook his head slowly. His brown hair shook and touched my cheeks. In a calm voice like nothing on earth, Jooin continued.
“They are the people who made me angry.”
“Thanks for trying but mama, you don’t have to defend me.”
“Why were you mad?”
Jooin raised his eyes again. Holding eye contact with him, I spoke clearly.
“Why did you piss off? Is it because they did something wrong when I didn’t, but it was me who got more hurt? Did that irritate you? Or else, for the sake of your sense of justice?”
“Correct, if you remove the part, ‘my sense of justice.’ It wasn’t encouraged by something high-sounding like a righteous zeal.”
With that said, Jooin fetched a slow breath.
“… You turned a blind eye to what they did and moved on. If they reflected on their behaviors, they would’ve not made any more fuss. Doesn’t it prove that they didn’t feel sorry for you at all when they talked shit about you like that again?”
I blinked my eyes. When our eyes met again, I lifted my hand with an awkward smile. Folding my fingers slowly, I replied.
“Hmm, what you said is true.”
Jooin narrowed his eyes in suspicion. Still, with an odd grin, I carried on my words.
“What you just said is true. I mean, everyone does that.”
“When we have mercy on someone or, at least, practice good manners, we also look forward to the same response. In other words, when we do something nice to someone, we actually think that we’ll be treated the same way. Maybe this expectation is what leads us to behave in a certain way.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
I raised my hand to point at Jooin. His eyes over my fingertip were still subsided.
“Jooin, you said earlier that you’re hiding your true color to others. In your perspective, your entire actions were all just acting, right? It wasn’t the real Jooin deep down there. You aren’t a good person to do such good things; you’re acting to camouflage the bad side.”
“Then what if someone says something bad to you one day? What are you gonna do?”
My question, at last, stir the look on his face. He stared back at me. Drawing my breath in, I continued speaking.
“What if someone tells you that… you’re deceiving that person or you’re odd at some point? What are you gonna do if someone gets out of temper while dropping out those words?”
“Are you gonna get pissed off too? Or revenge as you did to those who hurt me?”
My works scattered away to the silent classroom floor. Knitting his brows, Jooin fixed his gaze at me as if he was solving a challenging problem.
The moonlight swayed between us. A moment after, I saw Jooin shaking his head at a slow pace. He spoke in a low voice.
“No, I’m not gonna get mad nor am I gonna revenge. I deserve to be treated that way. My ridiculous acting was just postponing others to notice who I really am and to hate the vile creature.”
Jooin didn’t look at my direction regardless of the call. He just remained silent while dropping his gaze at the floor.
I once heard about a quote that said, a person who talks about something tragic too serenely might have kept the incident in his or her heart for a long time. The pain is too strong that the person fakes to have a nonchalant look on the face.
I tried to fathom the years Jooin spent to think about himself like that. The slender woman I saw in front of Eun Jiho’s high-fenced mansion… Jooin was only five years old when she became his stepmother.
Then how long did Jooin have those thoughts inside him? How long did he start that ridiculous acting to conceal his true nature?
Was he six or seven years old? At least for a decade, he might have suffered from the absurd fear of showing who he was deep down. I clenched my fist.
How many people are out there who never have had any different persona? Back then, when I came back to my house while holding my limping, injured knees, my mom dashed to the front door and had a more painful look on her face. What did I do at that time? I stopped weeping and said to her, I’m totally fine. That was the first lie, the first fake actions that I remember.
However, the nature of acting to win other’s affection is utterly different from that of faking not to hurt other people. It gnaws at the person attempting such a thing.
I’m beloved of all; however, they aren’t into the real me. If I reveal my true color, no one’s gonna love me anymore. Jooin already derived a conclusion before he even approached to figure out the truth. This act would never change.
I raised my eyes.
The look on Jooin’s face, where I directed my eyes on, collapsed. Like a shy boy wandering his gaze, he glanced at my side, the ceiling, and the floor one after another then diverted his eyes back onto me with a clumsy smile. Jooin stretched out his hand to grab mine.
“Mama, what’s that look for?”
“Why are you… as if…”
“Why don’t you get that it’s such an incredible thing to behave nicely to others when you still believe others will hate you?”