My mom only had one eye. I hated her... she was such an embarrassment. My mom ran a small shop at a flea market. She collected little weeds and such to sell... anything for the money we needed, she was such an embarrassment. There was this one day during elementary school, I remember that it was field day, and my mom came. I was so embarrassed. How could she do this to me? I threw her a hateful look and ran out. The next day at school..."Your mom only has one eye?!" and they taunted me.
I wished that my mom would just disappear from this world so I said to my mom, "Mom, why don't you have the other eye?! You're only going to make me a laughingstock. Why don't you just die?" My mom did not respond. I guess I felt a little bad, but at the same time, it felt good to think that I had said what I'd wanted to say all this time.
Maybe it was because my mom hadn't punished me, but I didn't think that I had hurt her feelings very badly.
That night... I woke up, and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. My mom was crying there, so quietly, as if she was afraid that she might wake me. I took a look at her, and then turned away. Because of the thing I had said to her earlier, there was something pinching at me in the corner of my heart. Even so, I hated my mother who was crying out of her one eye. So I told myself that I would grow up and become successful, because I hated my one-eyed mom and our desperate poverty.
Then I studied really hard. I left my mother and came to Seoul and studied, and got accepted in the Seoul University with all the confidence I had. Then, I got married. I bought a house of my own. Then I had kids, too. Now I'm living happily as a successful man. I like it here because it's a place that doesn't remind me of my mom.
This happiness was getting bigger and bigger, when someone unexpected came to see me. "What?! Who's this?!"... It was my mother... Still with her one eye. It felt as if the whole sky was falling apart on me. My little girl ran away, scared of my mom's eye.
And I asked her, "Who are you? I don't know you!!!" as if I tried to make that real. I screamed at her "How dare you come to my house and scare my daughter! GET OUT OF HERE! NOW!!!" And to this, my mother quietly answered, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I may have gotten the wrong address," and she disappeared. Thank goodness... she doesn't recognize me. I was quite relieved. I told myself that I wasn't going to care, or think about this for the rest of my life.
Then a wave of relief came upon me... One day, a letter regarding a school reunion came to my house. I lied to my wife saying that I was going on a business trip. After the reunion, I went down to the old shack, that I used to call a house... just out of curiosity there, I found my mother fallen on the cold ground. But I did not shed a single tear. She had a piece of paper in her hand.... it was a letter to me.
My son... I think my life has been long enough now. And... I won't visit Seoul anymore... but would it be too much to ask if I wanted you to come visit me once in a while? I miss you so much. And I was so glad when I heard you were coming for the reunion. But I decided not to go to the school... For you... I'm sorry that I only have one eye, and I was an embarrassment for you.
You see, when you were very little, you got into an accident, and lost your eye. As a mother, I couldn't stand watching you having to grow up with only one eye... so I gave you mine... I was so proud of my son that was seeing a whole new world for me, in my place, with that eye. I was never upset at you for anything you did. The couple times that you were angry with me, I thought to myself, "it's because he loves me." I miss the times when you were still young around me.
I miss you so much. I love you. You mean the world to me.
My world shattered!!! Then I cried for the person who lived for me... My Mother