Chapter 008—Raindrops Dripping From The Rooftop

Mrs. C’s cakes were delicious, and they were very popular among the neighbourhood. A lot of her female neighbours had come to learn making cakes, hoping to make their families happy with their cooking. Mrs. C was delighted to see that her cooking had helped other housewives maintain a harmonious family, for she knew deeply the importance of women in families. 

***

Back in the day when Mrs. C had been in her prime, she had lots of admirers. Yet out of all people, she had fallen in love with the ordinary Mr. C, turning a blind eye to all her rich and handsome admirers’ attempts to woo her. ‘I definitely won’t end up like my father.’ Romance filled the air amidst the flowers and moonlight beams as Mr. C gazed lovingly at her and made solemn vows. His lover’s smile was his gift in return.

After marriage, she single-handedly took care of every family business thoroughly, alleviating her husband’s worries, just so he could focus on building his career. Time flew by, and business at the factory was thriving. Mr. C’s rags-to-riches story had become a favourite among the streets. Yet, there was no sight of Mrs. C in the tales. 

She was like air; indispensable, but not everyone could see her importance.

No big deal. She was willing to do all this, because Mr. C had complimented her homemade cake was so unique that it didn’t have a match. 

***

That was another cake fresh out of the oven, with its aroma filling up the room. Its  layer of fresh white whipped cream was complemented with bright-coloured fruits. Exquisitely expressed in colour, smell, and taste, it was perfect. 

Mrs. C cut the cake into five pieces and took four out to the living room for everyone to eat, leaving the final slice for herself after she finished her chores. She also carefully poured four glasses of orange juice, serving as the cherry on top. The sweet taste with tinges of sourness was the perfect match.

Her eldest and middle son had their mouths watering, it only took seconds for them to clear up the entire slice of cake and orange juice. The youngest son never really liked cake, so he gave his slice to his father, whom he wasn’t able to meet in a long while, and drank his juice just to quench his thirst. Having just returned from Mainland China, Mr. C was entirely worn out. Without a word, he gobbled two pieces of cake whole and gulped down his orange juice. 

She watched father and son staying under the same roof, which was a moment hard to come by, followed by the sight of her cake which she had racked her brains while making it for the whole family. Seeing all of this, Mrs. C’s heart swelled with a sense of satisfaction that words couldn’t describe properly. 

***

Half a month ago, Mrs. C went to a certain city in Mainland China by car based on the information she had heard. Following her mother-in-law and Miss N to a residential building, she witnessed her mother-in-law, who had always been cold to her, treating Miss N with affection. Their conversation was full of smiles. She even made breakfast for Mr. C and Miss N.

This was a bolt from the blue for Mrs. C. Didn’t that mean Mother-in-law had already acknowledged Miss N’s place in the family?

Mrs. C went up to ask questions. Out of nowhere, Mother-in-law agreed that Mr. C should divorce Mrs. C, and marry Miss N afterwards. Mrs. C listed out all the times Mother-in-law had been shameless, while Mother-in-law blamed Mrs. C for doing nothing for Mr. C’s career. Hurling insults and grudges piled up over years at each other, the two instantly became like water and oil.

‘As the raindrops drip, never afar do they fall from the roof’s tip’  Mother-in-law repeated these words three times, wrapping up all the vice that had happened as the family’s karma.

Karma? Did this justify the fact that Mother-in-law, who had been abandoned by her ex-husband, supported the affair between her son and his mistress? Did this mean that Mrs. C had no reason to criticise anyone? Did she have to bear this pain? Today she was the victim, but did this mean that she would be the perpetrator in the future, causing trouble to her three daughters-in-law?

Mrs. C gazed down at her hands, seemingly stained with tears of her daughters-in-law.

***

Drip. Drip. Drip. The sound of water dripping echoed in Mrs. C’s ears.

‘As the raindrops drip, never afar do they fall from the roof’s tip.’

Putting the rope in hand to good use, her youngest son finally drifted off to a peaceful sleep and obediently lay beside his two brothers. Mrs. C could hardly imagine that children sleeping so adorably would soon be pains in the neck.

‘As the raindrops drip, never afar do they fall from the roof’s tip.’

Thanks to Mother-in-law’s reminder, Mrs. C was now aware that her three sons would definitely follow in the footsteps of her husband and her father-in-law (Mr. C’s father)—a scumbag who would leave his wife and children behind. Her sons and her daughters-in-law would then bear her grandchildren, who would follow suit… The sins of the family would stretch out endlessly, staining the world for ages to come.

Mrs. C made up her mind, and swore to pull up all the roots of trouble.  

‘As the raindrops drip, never afar do they fall from the roof’s tip.’

With a wave of a sharp pair of scissors and a tug at the rope of the toilet water tank, Mrs. C made the root of all evil disappear from the face of the earth. Mr C didn’t feel any pain or itchiness. He didn’t have any lingering emotions nor did he cry. He had lost his precious life long before this. Getting rid of his manhood was merely nothing.

Never again would raindrops drip from the roof.

Her ears were now free from that annoying sound.

***

After taking care of unfinished business, Mrs. C realised the last slice of poisonous cake was missing. It probably got carried off by a rat. She turned round and lifted up a knife, cutting herself. The process of losing one’s consciousness was such a long journey, long enough to let Mrs. C relive her memories thousands and thousands of times. 

Her childhood days without a care in the world, her glorious youth, Mr C’s sweet, sweet nothings, their eternal vows at their wedding, her husband’s serious face when working, the touching moment when her children were born, her first encounter with Miss N who was new to the factory, her children’s cute smiles, the time when rumours of Miss N and her husband’s affair were flying around, her mother-in-law’s  taunts and jeers, the warm hugs her children gave her, the arguments she had with Mr. C about Miss N, the times when her children ignored her because of schoolwork, those countless empty nights spent alone, the times when her children threw tantrums at her due to trivial matters, the hot words flung out from Mother-in-law’s mouth, the time her husband put forward a divorce…

After lots of reflecting, her mind landed on her husband and her three sons at last. Right before she lost consciousness, her heart was still with her family, a happy family she could never have. Hopefully, the Social Welfare Department would have pity on her and would carry out what she wished for in her will: cremate them together, their ashes buried together, and the five of them would be inseparable forever…

***

After the news of the four deaths was out, Mother-in-law instantly asked Miss N to hand over her authority over the factory. Miss N wasn’t able to see her lover for the last time, and so hanged herself to commit suicide. Her will was to ‘be buried together with Mr. C, as we couldn’t be together when we were alive’, along with ‘being a ghost of the C family in the afterlife, having been a member of the C family in her life, I pass on our flat (Miss N and Mr C’s love nest) to Mother-in-law’. The C family rejected her will to be buried with Mr. C, so Miss N’s family could only bury her near the tombs of the father and his three sons. 

After being rescued from her suicide attempt, Mrs. C was charged of four murder sentences. Facing the police’s interrogation, she remained silent. Those who had hoped to live on didn’t survive, those who had hoped to perish didn’t die, and those who sought love couldn’t be loved. For this, she had nothing to say.

***

Note: Adapted from ‘The murder case of the poisonous cake in Shun Tin Estate’ in May 1991.


TOC


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