Ou Yang stayed in Simone’s house a very long time that Sunday. She made very clear her wronged feelings and righteous logic. She cried a few times as she talked about the sacrifice she had made for her little family, as though she had stooped to marrying Ge Wen. Simone didn’t understand how Ou Yang could act so shocked, like she had been the innocent party to which the harm was done.
Ou Yang somewhat changed this time. Her voice, though still coarse, became thinner, fragile with gusts of wailing. Her face was puffy from obvious weeping and her eyeliner had become pale black smears down her cheeks. She did have the look of a victim seeking for compensation.
“I told Ge Wen that we are staying. We are not going to Vancouver,” she said decidedly. “I told him that we need to continue the education of our son, my only son. I told him to send us $1,500 a month plus his $700 share of the payment for the house!”
Ge Wen’s new job in Vancouver paid him about $60,000 a year. After taxes, Ge Wen had only about $4,500 per month. But if he agreed to Ou Yang’s demands, then he would only have $2,300 left to cover his $1,200 monthly rent, plus car and food expenses.
They all knew that living in Vancouver was much more expensive than in Montreal. Ou Yang’s demands for “compensation” sounded weirdly like passive robbery to Simone.
Simone tried to wake Ou Yang out of her sense of righteousness, of being the victim making her claims now that the bandit was caught. She could not or maybe just would not see that she was the bandit, yet she needed one. Ou Yang uttered those words full of logic and her demands sounded God granted.
But Ou Yang wouldn’t listen. She bargained, ha! She bargained with Simone, as though Simone were her husband’s accomplice.
“No, I don’t care. We need this much money! We have to keep our standard of living!” Ou Yang was almost yelling to Simone.
Then Ou Yang began calculating all of the expenses for Sunny’s studies, and the after school activities that she would have to pay for.
She wasn’t even bargaining anymore. Ou Yang had made her decision and that was it.
“Fine, fine, don’t tell me then,” Simone finally said, “tell it to your husband!”
“I already told him clearly!” Ou Yang confirmed to herself that she was alright about her demands.
But if Ge Wen had agreed, Ou Yang wouldn’t have been going on and on to Simone. Here, a man had been abandoned, and nearly half his income demanded of him in order to maintain the standard of living for his queen-like wife and only son, while he squeezed by in a 50 square meter apartment in Vancouver.
Ge Wen was facing, for the first time in his already miserable life, a challenge to which he was scared to respond. If he refused, his wife and her family in China would consider him a dishonorable and cruel husband. And they would use his refusal as proof that Ou Yang had indeed married beneath her when she married such a cheap man.
To be continued…