How can anything mean anything without love?

27 Feb 2019

He was waiting for anything, as he had waited on Saturday afternoons when he was a small boy, sitting in the big tree in the backyard of the house on Winery Street. He was waiting for time. He was waiting for a present to disengage itself from the past and from the future and come home. He was waiting for the figs to ripen, for wealth and importance and meaning to come to him, but most of all for love, which he waited for now in the absurd room, sitting on the writing table as if it were a branch of the fig tree. 

He waited for love as if he were his seven-year-old son waiting for it. Hee remembered saying a year ago to his son's mother while his son and daughter stood by, "Listen, Ann, nothing is more important in this life than a father and a mother and a son and daughter together. We're divorced. I haven't seen you or the children in almost a year. Even so, there's nothing anywhere for you or for me except these two, and the others we were going to have. You don't want to go on with this affair with a married man, do you? I'm home. You come home, too. You don't want to go on, do you? You can't want to go on. Come home, Ann." Rock saw his son turn and watch his mother's face. "Come home, Ann," Rock said, "because I love you." 

The boy waited at the end of the room for his mother to speak.

"But I don't love you," he heard his mother say.

"Are you sure, Ann?" Rock said. 

"Yes, I'm sure," the boy heard his mother say. "I don't love you." 

The boy walked between the two of them to the window overlooking the street. On his way, moving slowly, he looked from one to the other. He stood at the window a moment, then walked back to his father and stood in front of him, looking into his eyes. He was trying not to give way. He laid himself down across his father's knees. When Rock heard him stifling sobs, he burst into laughter and hugged the boy. The boy's mather and sister ran to him. 

"Why, what's the matter, Haig?" Ann said. "What's the matter?"

"I'm unhappy," Haig said. "I'm unhappy." 

"Why?" Ann said. "Why are you unhappy?"

"Because you said you don't love my father," Haig said.

"Listen," Rock said. "That's not so at all. Your father and your mather aren't speaking about themselves." 

"No," Ann said. "They were speaking about some friends of theirs." 

Rock lifted the boy and handed him to his mother. The boy was deeply ashamed of having given way. And soon the father and the mother heard him laughing again. But he knew, Haig Vagramian knew, as every man knows. Your mother and your father - even your own mother and your own father cannot love one another. Then, how can others love one another? How can there be love? How can anything mean anything without love? How can anything be worth anything when your own mother and father cannot love one another? 

William Saroyan

From the book "Rock Wagram", 1951