Let Him Go?
“There is a saying, if you love someone let him go. If he comes back to you, he is yours. If he does not come back, he was never yours to begin with.” Muntaha sounds so sure.
“You are saying I should leave him?” Lila's voices rises as she forms the question. She sniffs loudly into the handkerchief Muntaha has just given her.
“I am not saying that. Just let him be free… just for a while…” says Muntaha.
“But I left my parents for him, and even my job. Now you are saying I should leave him too?” Lila's voice rises even more. She sniffs again. Her eyes are red from crying.
“Don’t cry baby. Reality can be very cruel sometimes.” says Muntaha.
“Ok… Just tell me… What do you know?” Lila is sounding desperate.
“I told you, I know nothing.” Muntaha remains firm.
“Then tell me, what did you see?” begs Lila.
“Can you bear it?” says Muntaha. Her voice sounds heavy.
“What did she see?” thinks Lila.
“You mean to say there is something that I cannot bear?” she cries.
“Lila please be strong. Just go home. You need to find out these things for yourself.” Muntaha’s advice sounds wise.
“OK,” says Lila at last, “I’ll try.” Lila doesn’t know how she will do this, but she knows she has to do something.
Lila gets back home late that night. Saem is already there. As usual he is holding his mobile phone in one hand, and in the other, a cigarette. It seems he never looks at her or gives her any attention these days. Whenever Lila goes to him and tries to talk about her day, Saem usually nods his head as if to show Lila that he is listening, but she thinks he is not really taking in what she says to him. Today, Lila looks at him as if from a distance. She cannot move towards him. Her mind remains blocked when she thinks about him.
“Is he seeing someone else? Is it really possible?” she asks herself.
Saem does not really notice that Lila stays away from him tonight, but in a strange way, he has a feeling that something unusual is going on.
They have two bedrooms in their flat. These days, they are sleeping in different rooms. Their little son sleeps with whom he wishes. Lila sometimes calls Saem in the night on her phone, and he comes to her, but now that she thinks about it, it seems to her that he doesn’t come willingly. Normally, Lila does not mind too much, she thinks perhaps every man is the same in nature. In the beginning, his cool, quiet behaviour had attracted her to him. He seemed to need her love and care so much, but tonight she cannot bring herself to even touch the screen of her phone to call him.
She remembers the day he cried just like a child. It was the day they had lost their second baby. Just after her return from the hospital, to her surprise, Lila found herself comforting him. “Baby, don’t cry. Don’t cry like a child.” She had said. “We’ll have another child, very soon.”
“But I really wanted our baby girl.” he had told her. “We would have had a perfect family, if she had lived.” He had cried all night. Lila was the one who had to be strong, even though it was she who had carried the child for so many months, and it was from her body that their little girl had come. “Shouldn’t he have been the one comforting me?” she had thought. At the time, she felt she had to try so hard to be strong for both of them. “We can try again. Inshallah, we will have another little girl next year.” she had said. “Please. Please don’t cry.” Her heart felt dead, but strangely her own tears had not come.
Thinking about the future, Saem had seemed afraid. Lila reminded him to think about their other child, their sweet little boy, Ayan, and finally, Saem had stopped crying. Now Lila remembers all this. She cannot imagine how this same man could ever leave her. “How can it be possible?”
She thinks about many important things. How Ayan is supposed to begin school this year. How, for the sake of Ayan’s pre-school education, Lila had left her job and stayed at home to be with him, every day, for the whole day, with only herself there to guide him. She thinks about how completely dependent she is on her little boy’s father right now. Separation would be very tough for her. But living like this, every day, living like a zombie is not possible either. What should she do? There are so many questions spinning through her mind. “Should I look for another job? How will I manage on my own? What will this do to our son?” Holding Ayan tightly, she falls asleep at last. Saem does not come to her room at all tonight.
Unlike other mornings, today Lila is silent at the breakfast table. She serves everything without saying a word. Saem has noticed her odd behaviour, but he remains silent. He cannot decide what to say. “She seems troubled about something.” he thinks to himself. “I guess she will tell me when she is ready. Time will make everything clear. Time will heal everything.” He comforts himself with this idea, and leaves for his office as usual.
Feeling the silence between them, Lila becomes even more worried. Their lives have become complicated. All this worry is making it hard for her to breathe. She goes about the flat, doing her housework like a machine. She is not looking for anything, but just as she puts Saem’s clean clothes into his chest of drawers, she suddenly notices a handkerchief.
She picks it up slowly. In a BFDC movie, she once saw the heroine giving her lover a handkerchief like this as a gift to show her love. But Saem already has a handkerchief in his pocket. This one is nothing like it. It’s so unusual, and almost impossible that he would ever use anything like this. Now, Lila thinks she is beginning to understand what Muntaha, her friend, was trying to say.
For the whole day neither she nor Saem have called each other. They are both busy with their daily work. After coming home from his office, Saem finds his tea sitting on the dining table. His tea is excellent, but Lila’s absence makes him restless. “Lila! Lila! Where are you?” he calls. There is no reply. He checks the other parts of their flat. She is not in the bathroom. She is not in her room, where Ayan is lying fast asleep.
Saem goes upstairs to the roof. No, she is not there either. “Uff! What’s going on?” He calls to her again. From where he is standing, he can hear the sound of a phone ringing below. He looks down. There she is, sitting alone in the garden, enjoying the cool evening air. Her phone is ringing, but she does not answer it. She seems to be deep in thought, and her mind seems to be far away.
Suddenly, Lila notices Saem’s movement above her, and looks up. They make eye contact for a moment, but it feels uncomfortable, and they both look away quickly. How strange this moment is.
Saem wonders if there is some way he can find out the reason for Lila’s unusual behaviour. “What on earth is going on?” he thinks. And then he has an idea. “She writes in her diary sometimes. Yes, that’s it. That might tell me what is going on.” He goes back inside and looks around. There, sitting on top of her desk, he sees Lila’s diary. “Perhaps there’s an answer there.” He thinks. “But should I look?”
He cannot stop himself. He opens Lila’s diary to the page where the pen is kept. Her beautiful handwriting looks so familiar and dear to him. He begins to read…
“If you love someone, let him go…”
Vocabulary Lists: learn all of the words from the following two lists…
High Frequency Words from the 2nd 1000 General Service Word List
absence breakfast dining imagine roof worry advice breathe drawers inside sake afraid busy education loudly screen asleep check excellent manage slowly attention chest (furniture) firm parents spinning attracted clean flat (building) pen suddenly baby clothes guess perfect tea beg comfort guide phone tightly
behaviour (British English spelling)
complicated handkerchief picks tonight
behavior (American English spelling)
cruel heal tough blocked desk hospital remind upstairs
High Frequency Words from the Academic Word List
Do you know the meaning of the words and expressions below? Use a dictionary to check the meaning. These are not high frequency, or common, words in English, so only learn these words and expressions if you already know ALL of the words in the two lists above very well.
Inferring: What is the relationship between Lila and Saem? (The writer does not tell us this directly. She expects us, the readers, to work this out for ourselves.)
Remembering: What worries came to Lila’s mind when she heard Muntaha’s advice? What worries did Lila have when she thought about the possibility of separating from Saem?
Understanding: What does the writer mean, when she says Muntaha’s voice “sounds heavy?”
Understanding: What does it mean to “find out something for yourself”?
Inferring: The writer describes Saem as holding his mobile phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other. What does this information tell us about Saem? (The writer does not tell us directly why this is important. What do you think the writer might be suggesting?)
Understanding: Why did Saem look inside Lila’s diary?
Critical Thinking Questions
Analyse: Why do you think Muntaha did not tell Lila what she had seen? In your opinion, had she, in fact, seen anything of importance, or was she simply gossiping? Why do you think she told Lila to go home and “find out for herself”?
Analyse: In what way was the death of Lila and Saem’s baby girl important in the story? How does it help us to better understand each of them?
Analyse: The writer tells us, “Lila doesn’t know how she will do this, but she knows she has to do something.” Do you think Lila left her diary where Saem could find it, on purpose? If so, why do you think she did that?
Apply: If you were Lila, what would you do in this situation? If you were Saem, what would you do? (Give reasons for your answer.)
Evaluate: Do you agree with the statement, “If you love someone, let them go.”? In what situation(s) might this be good advice? In what situation(s) might it be bad advice? What do you think might be some good advice to give to…
Evaluate: In your view, is it ever wise to give other people advice about their close relationships? Even if you know the background and details of someone’s personal problems well, is it better to say nothing and let them solve those problems by themselves or not? Give some reasons for your opinions.
Evaluate: Do you keep a personal diary? If you do, how would you feel if someone read it? Is it ever OK to read another person’s diary? Why/Why not?
Create: The writer of this story does not tell us what happens next. If you were the writer of this story, how would you end it? Either…
a) Write an ending of your own in two or three paragraphs, or…
b) Tell someone an ending to the story in English.
(In each case, make some notes, and spend some time planning what you are going to write or say first. Make sure you explain how the strange handkerchief came to be in Saem’s chest of drawers.)