A Cuckoo in the nest

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I enter in Chang's house to find Mrs. Chang in a frenzy of activity. Every speck of dust is being cleaned, every metal object is being polished, all the things are being arranged and rearranged to make the house look neat and tidy. I am conscripted to help even before I am able to settle in.

Mrs. Chang is panicking for the first time in my memory. She thinks that the house will not be presentable enough by the time the guests come. It has to be immaculate when Pete and his family arrive next weekend for a formal betrothal ceremony, which gives her less than a week for preparations.

I try to calm her down by mentioning Mel, who is coming tomorrow. She should be able to help out and give her input in the arrangements.

"Mel has her own flights of fancy. She will tell me not to worry. Young people these days don't know the importance of the family image"

Mr. Chang is fixing a portable home in the back yard for accommodating the expected guests. He has obtained the necessary approval from the council to erect it on a temporary basis. He boasts about, how he has built the whole thing with his own two hands. He bought an old shipping container and transformed it in to a palace for Mel's future in laws.

Mrs. Chang reminiscences about her past till late in the night. She tells me about her extended family and friends who live interstate. How she had to leave all of them and come here when Mr. Chang got a job here. She was lonely and homesick at the beginning. Mr. Chang encouraged and supported her to get teaching qualifications and work as a teacher. Chang's stayed here even after Mr. Chang lost his job only for Mel's sake. It was made possible because Mrs. Chang had a steady job.

Over the years the family grew apart, as families do when they live far away. However they have come closer again since Mel moved there.

All the relatives have remarked on how good Mel has turned out. Both the Chang's are proud as a punch of Mel. Some of the credit goes to me for being a good friend for Mel.

Now that Mel is set for life and Mrs. Chang is retired they will see bit of world. She feels Mr. Chang has worked hard and needs some rest.

They are also thinking of moving back to live closer to Mel and their family. They can sell their current home and buy something on a smaller scale over there. Surely Mel will need help with babysitting when she has her kids. Chang's don't have any close family here anyway.

My aim is to tell her what's happening in my life and ask help. In fact I have timed my visit so that I will have time to talk without Mel being present.

However, I just keep listening to her past stories and future dreams. I realise that I won't be able ask the required help. She has her own challenges to tackle now. Getting Mel married is her priority. Her future life is also planned and I don't factor in it at all. She will help me if requested, but I don't want to be burden to her.

I get a call from Alice. I quickly excuse myself to talk to her. She complains that Luke is refusing to sleep without talking to me. It is really late at night and past Luke's bedtime. I have to wean him from me eventually but now is not the time. I talk to him for some time and promise to give him a call everyday while I am away.

Mrs. Chang is curious about my caller. I explain that, it is Alice, my friend. She called to make sure that I reached safely. Is she the one who has loaned me the car to use?

Earlier in the day when Mrs. Chang had asked me about my almost brand new luxury car I had responded with my own version of truth and informed her that it is a loan from a friend. I did not tell her details about that friend for obvious reasons. Now I lie outright and answer yes to the question.

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