“You can be a good mother…” He says, adding extra feeling to his word. He truly means it. Then their eyes meet. That he can see his, their, unborn children, inside her eyes, playing and embracing life of their own.
Or perhaps he’s just being true to himself about something so far away that it’s only a mere distant dream; because he knows that as long as he’s with this woman, he shall never have children of whom he can call his own.
“You’ve forgotten what I said to you, or you just pretend to forget about it?” sharply she responds to his comment, a compliment he wants to call it and has been intended to be so. He’d admit that her response is quite harsh. Considering that their relationship is still on its early stage.
“Which one?” he bravely faces her and looks at her eyes again.
“Fundamental things!” she answers him, sounds like shouting if not for the people inside the restaurant they are in; and like him she meets his eyes, only coldly. “I’d better, again, give you some extra time to think about this matter before we can go further. I can’t let this to advance until you fully accept my fundamental things.” She says, rising from her seat, ready to leave him.
He touches her hand; holds it to gesture her to sit down again. He’s never touched her before, even her hand. Then he pleads with her: “We’ve just started this relationship and obviously there are still more things we need to talk about, making sure we mean what we say, synchronising our future goals together. Calm down and please stay. But if you want to go, by any means you’re free to leave. But, mind you, I shall interpret it as the sign of the end of our early relationship.” For the second time he truly means what he says. That’s it! He’s not angry with her: he’s angry with his destiny. With love. She’s the closest woman he’s been so far, for his whole life, and if this would end this way too, then let it be. He’s readied himself.
In fact, he’s the first one to mention about “the fundamental things”. She asks him first what actually make him attracted to a woman at first place. He doesn’t answer her question but, instead, he talks something that he called “my fundamental things”: that before he decides to date and then court a woman, she must first meet his fundamental things.
“Three conditions must be met?” She becomes curious, “Your fundamental things, huh? But don’t you think that we must love unconditionally.” She asks. He almost agrees with her.
“Yes,” he says, “Precisely. But if we lived in an ideal world, that’s exactly what I want to do.
“But I don’t mind to love her unconditionally after these three conditions are met.” He looks at her and winks.
“The answer to all these three conditions must be a ‘yes’. If one of the answers is ‘no’, she’s no longer eligible, if I must say that word.
“First, and these are their order of importance: she loves the same God that I love; Second: I love her and Last: she loves me. As simple as that.”
“Actually, not as simple as that.” He continues after a long pause, “There’s more to the second condition. But my heart knows whether it’s met.”
He doesn’t ask her specifically to tell him about her fundamental things. One day, or rather night, when they’re out in a city park -surrounded by a quite few couples who, like them, are also enjoying their time in front of a beautiful fountain located in the middle of the park- she tells him about something that reveals more about her personality and her choice of life and how she wants to spend it. In the beginning, she doesn’t say it as her fundamental thing. Or she has three or more others that she counts as her fundamental things. If he can remember it correctly, their conversation just flows until they get to that topic:
“I want to be child-free for as long as I live,” she says to him and quite frankly it intrigues him and leaves him a bit surprised or whether, he guesses, that she’s only half joking, “so that I can devote more of my time volunteering.” She furthers surprises him with her words. Perhaps what makes him surprise is that it’s never slightly occurred to him to spend the rest of his life accompanying a woman volunteering, for whatever causes. “And it shall be in remote and isolated areas.” She’s not finished yet, as if the first two: being childless and volunteerism are not quite shocking for him, in fact, for the society of which they live where the purpose of marriage is mainly for procreation and where the idea of volunteerism is still quite foreign.
For whatever motives behind her aspiration, he’s to admit that she’s a quite liberated woman. And he doesn’t have enough courage to ask further about the details. He will and must find out one at a time, he promises himself but not now.
Then she reminds him of the ‘fundamental things’ that he’s mentioned first to her. “To borrow your own words: these are my ‘fundamental things’. Please answer me whether you are comfortable with them; and whether you can share your life with a woman that has them as her life goals. We can’t go further before you accept them.”
So he says yes. She asks him back whether he’s sure. He gives her the look of assurance that convinces her that the man in front of her can truly accept her fundamental things.
Or perhaps he’s very good at giving a convincing look and convincing people because he wants to add something to his ‘yes’, yes he wants to tell her that, but the look on her face suggests that he doesn’t need to do that. Or perhaps she just doesn’t need further explanation to his ‘yes’; after all, it was him that told her about the importance of trust, openness and honesty in a relationship: when your yes mean yes and no mean no; that she doesn’t need to question him like an interrogator.
And until they leave the park, he still doesn’t have the gut to tell her about that.
“Listen,” he says, after she takes a seat again and makes sure that her hands don’t slip out of his hands, “I meant it when I said that you can be a good mother. You are. You’re so tender and that’s why I’m in love with you at first place. On several occasions, I’ve seen that you liked kids from the way you held them in your arms or hugged them; and the way you chatted with babies is so amazing. And of course, I don’t forget about the ‘fundamental things’ of yours.” He lets the moment to pass in silence before continuing:
“When you asked me whether I accept your fundamental things, I didn’t lie to you. I don’t have problems with them. But I failed to tell you that there’s a part of me that wants to be a father: a fatherly calling if I may say, which I think is quite normal for a man like me. But the desire is not as quite as dominating. I don’t have any wish to establish my dynasty here on earth. But if the condition allows me to have the offspring of my own, I can’t refuse it either; if not, I‘m still a happy man. And that’s why I know that I can accept the fact that you plan to be childless. Or to be a volunteer. Or to spend your life in remote areas.
“Don’t view that as my attempt to just please you. If I wasn’t happy about it, I would have told you immediately and we won’t be here talking. Remember what I’ve said to you about trust, openness and honesty?
“And remember also, you have met my ‘fundamental things’ so what is left is just for me to accept you as a whole package.
“Please stay with me and let’s share the world together. Your world shall be mine and mine shall be yours and see if our happiness is not multiplied. I love you and that’s the only thing I’d like to assure you right now and I hope it would be sufficient.”
(Jakarta, November 07, 2007)