Sunday, 11 November 2018
I started looking for a new apartment, but suddenly Mme. Landlord sold the apartment I was living to one Italian couple. They were seeking investment properties and it suited them that a tenant (me) was already there. I had had enough of the restaurant from Hell, but one decisive factor was that I would not need to report the change of address to the French Government. In order to extend my visa, continuity was considered important. Besides I had already invested in insulation materials, I might as well stay.
I could not update my blog last week because of the pain in my wrist. It is healing slowly, but the pain returns whenever I stress it. But my mind was busy analyzing each harmonious character in my true horror stories in this modern Paris. Let me start with Mme. Landlord, the ruthless whipper of the weak while pretending to be their saviour. How does such a personality develop?
The clue may be in the fact that she was not a born Parisian. Every city has a hierarchy that consists of the in-crowds that were born with the non-coded priority over those who joined the city from elsewhere. Mme. Landlord often spoke proudly of her birthplace, but her eyes betrayed her words. She chose not to return to her birthplace which speaks the truth. The late joiners of the city struggle to secure their place unless blessed with a tolerable wealth or some kind of accomplishments. Did Mme. Landlord have any of them? A daughter from a decent family would not grow up to be a scavenger of garbage rooms. Her sense of hygiene did not revolt against bringing a discarded mattress (run over by mouses) into her bedroom. Then how would an ambitious woman with no advantages navigate herself in a city? How would she climb up the social ladder?
By pretending to possess what the rich and the successful are stereotyped to be lacking it. Empathy. No other virtue has been more abused because you can pretend to have it while regular accomplishment requires a lot of hard work or even financial expenses. Mme. Landlord boasted of her volunteer works, boasted of getting involved in many good causes. It left unpleasant aftertaste that she would demand recognition or gratitude each time, unlike my acquaintances in Japan who had kept quiet about their volunteer works until I accidentally found out. However, her tactics must have worked for Mme. Landlord because she managed to gain respect as a moral leader who became equal to the rich and the successful among the circle which she had insinuated herself into. But there was one person who was not fooled. Herself.
Not naturally empathetic nor generous, her life-long acting would naturally take its toll on her. She vented her frustration on the weak whose voice would not be heard. She was all smile to an aristocrat gentleman while writing slander about him in her emails to me. I have written in one of my updates about the night when I was made to move her bulky furniture. It was not an isolated episode, of course, and one day she made me move another piece of her bulky furniture during the daytime. She came along to give me instructions, so I would not damage her old furniture, which was not precious enough for her to pay the taxi fares for. What was the point of having migrants around if you could not use them for free labour?
A couple of French women were chatting on the street. I had to stop because there was no room on the narrow street of Paris. I was about to politely ask them to let me pass when Mme. Landlord hurled some abusive comments to the women. Even I could understand the part ‘people have lost manner to make space for others in Paris!’ The two women looked hurt more than offended and said something softly in French as they stepped aside. I felt compelled to apologize to the French women for the rude behavior of Mme. Landlord while she walked past them triumphantly.
Is she part of the elegant Parisian tapestry? I think not.
Sunday, 30 September 2018
A French lawyer would naturally be biased as I was his client, but still the genuine shock on his face was enough proof that Mme. Landlord had behaved without honour according to the French standards. My French lawyer was indignant that an aged woman who was a grandmother of many grandchildren should have chosen to exploit a migrant young enough to be her daughter.
My lawyer suspected Mme. Landlord would repeat her antics with me, so his legal letter to her covered many grounds. My painting labour alone would have cost Mme. Landlord 5000 euros had she employed a professional. My lawyer halved it out of good faith. He wished to demand her for the injury on my wrist because it has affected my career and would continue to do so in future, but as I left France immediately after the injury to accompany my fragile mother back to Japan, it would be difficult to prove the liability of Mme. Landlord.
While he was finalizing his legal letter, Mme. Landlord bombarded me with her emails demanding me to do the right thing and observe the harmony among the neighbours. Her hypocritical words resembled that of Mme. Harmonie of the restaurant from Hell. No wonder Mme. Landlord detested her. They were birds of a feather.
Mme. Landlord spread the slander about me and had the nerve to send me the emails she had exchanged with her friends accusing me of wrongdoings. The man who knew nothing about the sacrifice my mother had to make so that I would paint the apartment of Mme. Landlord, he advised her to act harshly with me in his email. Did she not think that giving me his email address was a bad idea? I duly sent him the copy of my legal letter. Of course, Mme. Landlord would insist that it was all lie, but the legal fee in France is steep. No one has that kind of money to spend on lies. At least, I did not hear his advice again.
I am not angry because her French friends do not fare so well either. I remember the time when Mme. Landlord made me and a man (another gullible fan of hers) move a discarded mattress that had been laid in the garbage room for weeks, to the guest room of her apartment. I was horrified. ‘You are not going to let your guest sleep on it? The rats were seen there running around!’ She was not fazed at all. ‘A clean sheet would hide it.’ Then I knew she would lie to her French friend that she went out of her way to purchase the mattress for him.’ Probably the same man who advised her to be harsh with me.
It was sort of good to know that Mme. Landlord was oddly egalitarian, being insincere to both the non-French and the French people too.
To be continued.
Sunday, 23 September 2018
I wrote in my last post the reason why I have been irregular in updating my blog. My wrist has had up days and down days when it simply hurt too much to type. Today has been one of those latter days. I apologize in advance if I fail my readers again.
With my left hand only I emailed to Mme. Landlord to apologize for having broken her tap. I offered to replace it as soon as I return from Japan. ‘…right now, I need to catch a plane to accompany my mother because she is too fragile to travel alone.’…Yes, that cruel Mme. Landlord had made me work till the morning of my mother’s departure from France. Mme. Landlord did not even give my mother a chance to drive around Paris briefly for the last time. To her, migrants were hers to own and benefit from.
I managed by tipping whoever willing to carry our luggage because my wrist had lost its mobility. Once on the plane, my mother started to cry and blamed her for my injury. It did not make sense to me, but she revealed that she was never ill during her stay in Paris. She only pretended to be ill so that I would leave her to fulfill my promise I made to Mme. Landlord about painting her apartment. She sized up Mme. Landlord immediately that she was a dark character who would spread slander about me if she did not get what she wanted. My mother was worried that her slander may ruin my chance of befriending other decent neighbors, so she chose to sacrifice her last chance to see Europe and stayed alone in my room for a full week. Little did she imagine that Mme. Landlord would be so avaricious that she would abuse me to the point my wrist would snap in the cold chilly apartment where she refused to turn on her heaters for me.
Soon both my mother and I were crying in the plane bound for Japan. I regret that my desire to befriend a French, my desire to become a grateful migrant has sacrificed my mother’s happiness. I had sort of suspected that Mme. Landlord’s kind words were not without agenda, but my principles disciplined me to repay her fake kindness all the same. How naïve of me to have hoped that she would be touched by my sincerity. I should distance myself from Mme. Landlord after this hard lesson.
It was not over. When I returned to my mother’s home and turned on my computer, a message was waiting for me. It was from Mme. Landlord sending me a bill for a new tap, more expensive than her old one, and the installation fee. I explained my wrist and how my mother sacrificed her dream holidays for Mme. Landlord. Surely, she could wait till I return in a month? I was still naive. The cruel woman ignored my mother’s distress and simply warned me that if I did not pay immediately, I would be paying interest.
The hyena was after my money shamelessly, just like she pursued Jupiter, the sensitive gay tenant for his money. Very well, I would pay. Not for her, but for fighting her. I placed an international call to my lawyer in Paris.
To be continued.
To be continued.
Sunday, 16 September 2018
You might wonder why I still honored my promise I made to Mme. Landlord to paint her apartment despite her harsh nature that had revealed itself with time. One was for the honor of all the migrants. Mme. Landlord would spread around a slander about another ungrateful migrants who would not return her kindness. Completing the painting was the only way to prevent it. But another reason was a sentimental one. I naively hoped that my sincerity might soften her attitude in the end. In hindsight I guess I realized something was wrong, but I believed sincerity was the only way an Asian could befriend a French in Paris.
Mme. Landlord informed me that she was having a guest over in April and thus she must have her apartment ready by then. She was not in Paris in the month of January, so I assumed there would be no painting during the cold winter months. I decided to have my mother flown from Japan into Paris to my new room. I should have done so sooner considering her advanced age, her fragileness precipitated by four operations, but I had to delay it thanks to the restaurant from Hell below who made my former apartment a hell to live. Not the environment for my fragile mother. February was not exactly the ideal month for a visit, but Paris is mesmerizing at any time of the year.
The first 10 days with my mother was wonderful. She needed my assistance all the time, but she loved every minute of it. Then…it happened. Mme. Landlord returned all of sudden to Paris and ordered me to resume the painting of her apartment to repay her for her kindness. I explained that my mother was here with me for just another 10 days and there would be a plenty of time before her guest arrived in 2 months. But non, Mme. Landlord was going away on holidays in March and she could not fully relax and enjoy it if her apartment was not done. She was going away with her grandson that I should know the importance of family. I wrote to her that my mother was my family too and this was probably going to be her last chance to see Europe if her pending eye operation was not successful. Mme. Landlord completely ignored this and still insisted.
I realized then that the kindness to migrants was costly and that migrants’ family clearly came secondary to the French family. I could not abandon my mother, but then she fell ill. She told me to go fulfill my promise while she rested in peace. I knew my mother’s keen sense of obligation would suffer if I violated it, so I sadly went up the stairs to Mme. Landlord’s apartment on the top floor. The hyena looked satisfied that her free help came. She stayed around for a while to give me tons of instruction but left because the room was too cold. She told me that her heater was still not fixed, and the toilet was still broken. Needless to say, Mme. Landlord had no words of sympathy for my mother who had fallen ill. Instead, she bang on my door loudly to wake my sick mother up so she could use my toilet. Economizing on toilet paper was more important than the health of an aged migrant to Mme. Landlord. I hope that no other French women are this vulgar.
I continued to finish the painting because coldness made me numb, body and mind. I was too sad to confront the reality that my sincerely had been exploited. Days after I was finally cleaning up having finished the job. The cold water numbed my wrist for the last time. I said ‘last’ because the tap snapped as I turned it. I realized with horror that I had broken Mme. Landlord’s tap and the mobility of my wrist was gone.
My readers would know that which one of us demanded compensation. To be continued.
Tuesday, 4 September 2018
This is an extra update. I had to because Mr. John Millman, an Australian tennis player has just won a great victory. To be honest, I would not have reacted much if he had not been an Australian. I may have left that big island nation, but I still feel a sentimental connection that is strong enough to rejoice every time good thing happens to Australia, the nation that helped me grow a backbone. Without it I would have perished a long time ago in Paris.
Congratulation and many thanks.