A parable about how people often ruin their lives by taking the wrong decision.
— Is this the queue for sacrifices?
— That’s right! You’re behind me. I’m number 852 in the queue, you’re 853.
— Oh dear — that long! I wonder when we’ll reach the front?
— Don’t worry, it’s moving fast. Who or what do you want to make a sacrifice for?
— In the name of love. How about you?
— For the sake of children. Children are a joy to me!
— What do you intend to sacrifice?
— My personal life. The only thing that matters is that all my children were happy and healthy. I give everything for them. One man asked me to marry him — I refused. I gave up a job which I really loved and went to work in a kindergarten, to make sure all the children were cared for and well-fed. I give everything I can to them, I don’t care about myself!
— Oh, I understand! I want to sacrifice my relationship. You see, there’s nothing left between me and my husband. He’s seeing another woman. A different man appeared in my life, too…If only my husband would leave for good! But he says he won’t go, he cries, says he’s used to living with me. And I end up feeling sorry for him! Such is our life together…
The door opened, and a voice rang out: ’Number 852, come on in!’
— Oh, it’s my turn! I’m a bit nervous…what if they don’t accept my sacrifice?
Number 853 sat down to wait to be called. The time seemed to pass very slowly, but eventually number 852 came out of the office.
— Well, what happened? What did they say? Did they accept your sacrifice?
— No…they sent me away to think a bit more!
— But why? Why won’t they accept it straight away?
— Oh my dear, you see, they asked me: ’Are you sure? Did you think this through? This sacrifice will be forever — there’s no going back!’ So I said to them, ’of course I’ve thought it over! The children will grow up and see how much their mother has sacrificed for them, they’ll appreciate it!’ Then they told me to sit down in front of a television. They showed me such a strange movie! It was about me. They showed me what it would be like, supposedly, when the kids have grown up. My daughter got married and moved to the other side of the world; my son only phoned me once a month and only because he felt obligated to…And I ask them, ’why do you behave like this towards me?’ and my son replies, ’stop interfering in our lives, mother, for goodness sake! Haven’t you got anything else to do?’ But what is there for me to do? I’ve spent my whole life looking after the kids, I’ve got nothing else! It seems like they didn’t care at all about what I sacrificed for them. It seems I did it all in vain…
From the door they heard a voice: ’Next! Number 853!’
— What? Oh, it’s my turn…But you’ve completely unsettled me now…Oh well…
— Come in. Sit down. What would you like to sacrifice?
— My relationship…
— I see. Well, please explain.
— Well, you see…it’s not particularly serious, but nevertheless an enjoyable one. And still quite fresh; we only met half a year ago.
— And what do you want to sacrifice your relationship for?
— To keep my family together..
— Whose family? Yours? Why is this so important?
— Well, of course it’s important! My husband has had a different lover for a long time; he’s always running off to see her and lying about what he’s doing. I haven’t got the strength to deal with it anymore.
— What are you saying?
— Well…this new relationship…he’s also my ’other’ lover, not my husband.
— So…you want to sacrifice this new relationship?
— Yes. In order to keep my family together.
— You said yourself that your husband has another woman; you’ve got another man. Where is this tight-knit family of yours?
— What? Officially we’re still married. That means we’re a family.
— And this situation suits you?
— Of course it doesn’t! I cry all the time, it’s unbearable!
— Yet you refuse under any circumstances to start a new, proper relationship with your lover, and leave your husband behind? Correct?
— Well, it’s really not that serious. I wouldn’t regret sacrificing it!
— Well, if you don’t care that much, we care even less. So, let’s sacrifice it.
— I was told that you show movies here. About the future. Why aren’t you showing me one?
— Indeed, we show various kinds of movie here. Some are about the future, others about the past. You’re is about the present. So, let’s watch it.
— Oh look, that’s me! Wow, do I really look like that? I don’t believe it! I look after myself!
— Well, that’s a reflection of your soul as seen from the outside.
— What, like that?! I look awful!
— That’s what people always look like when their soul is unhappy…
— Who’s that boy? What a nice child, look at the way he holds on to me!
— Can’t you tell? That’s your husband; it’s also a reflection of his soul.
— My husband? What rubbish! He’s a grown man!
— But in his heart, he’s still a child. And he hangs on to you like a child does to its mother…
— Yes, that’s what he’s like! He’s always hanging on to me.
— So, he hangs on to you, and not the other way round?
— Well, I was brought up differently. I was taught that a woman should be stronger, wiser, more decisive than her man. She has to run a family, and direct her husband!
— Well, that’s certainly what you seem to have here. A strong, wise, decisive mother looking after her child-husband. And she also tells him off, feels sorry for him, forgives him. And you’re saying you wanted something else?
— Interesting! But I’m not his mother, of course! I’m his wife! But here he looks…so guilty. And every time he runs off to that woman of his, I still can’t stop loving him!
— Of course, that’s how it works. A boy behaves badly, runs home to his mother, cries a little bit on her shoulder, and asks for forgiveness…Well, that’s it — the end of the movie. Let’s finish up here. Will you sacrifice this relationship for your family? You haven’t changed your mind?
— What about the future? Why didn’t you show it to me.
— We don’t have it. But judging by the present circumstances we’ve seen here, your grown-up ’boy’ isn’t going to go anywhere for long.
— Well, what should I do then? What am I making this sacrifice for?
— It’s clearer to you than to us. Maybe you love being a mother more than a wife. Or not.
— No! I want to be a woman who someone loves!
— Well, can’t mothers also be women who someone loves? It happens quite often. So, what are we going to do? Are we going to make the sacrifice? For the sake of preserving your family, so that your husband can remain a boy?
— No…no, I’m not ready. I need time to think.
— Of course. We allow you to have some time for thinking.
— But can you give me some advice?
— It would be a pleasure!
— Tell me, what do I need to do to make my husband…well, grow up?
— Probably, what you need to do is stop behaving like his mother. Switch to concentrating on yourself and learn to be a real woman: seductive, fascinating, mysterious, desirable. The kind of woman he’ll want to give flowers to and serenade, rather than cry on her shoulder.
— Really? You think this will help?
— It usually works. Well, if you actually choose to be a real woman it will. But if you still have problems, come to see us again! This relationship of your is nothing big, we’ll happily take it. Do you know how many people out there dream of something like that? If you want to sacrifice it, we’re more than ready!
— I’ll think about it…
Number 853 left the office feeling confused.
Number 854 entered looking terrified.
— I want to give up everything that’s dear to me in order to make my mother feel at peace…
The door closed. People walked up and down the corridor carrying their wishes, abilities, careers, talents, potential — everything that they were willing to sacrifice for something they often didn’t fully comprehend.
Author: Irina Semina
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