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The Heartbeat of Monserene: A Story of Determination

“Li Yin, it’s time we stopped chasing clouds and focus on what needs to be done,” The words landed heavily like a hammer. The world felt like it was spinning, as the reality of his words came crashing down upon me like a heavy stone. My parents continued talking, explaining that they could no longer afford to sustain the family and my business any longer. In my stupor, I could barely hear them - the only sound I heard was the thumping of my heart echoing in my ears. I buried my face in my hands as if I could escape reality’s gaze by averting my eyes.

Through the deafening echoes of my beating heart, I heard my father say the same things I already knew. My online jewellery store, Monserene, has been haemorrhaging money since its inception in 2019. Like with many other families, the financial strain from Covid-19 had finally caught up to us, stretching our family to its limits. And now, with the additional weight of my father being out of work, the burden seemed to be too much to handle.

And then I heard the words, clear as day: ”Give up.” The words cut like a sharp knife, and I felt like all the air had been knocked out of my lungs. My mind was a jumbled mess as I tried to make sense of what they had just said. Did my parents really ask me to give up on my dreams? To give up on Monserene?

Tears welled in my eyes as I looked at their faces, etched with lines of worry and concern. My father’s eyes, usually filled with pride and calm strength, now held a pleading desperation and a tinge of regret. My mother, normally my pillar of support, looked as if she had aged twenty years, her face pale as her lips quivered ever-so slightly. They knew what they had said had hurt me, and I knew it had hurt them just as much to say them.

I was responsible for making them feel this way. I couldn’t stay there and look my parents in the eyes any longer. I pushed myself up and dashed out of the house. I did not care where my feet would take me - as long as it was far, far away from all my problems and worries. Eventually, my feet could no longer support the weight of my emotions and I collapsed on the ground, heaving from exhaustion and sorrow.

Sobbing, I clutched the necklace that hung around my neck, my hands wrapped so tightly around it that my nails dug into my palms. Curling up into a ball, I wished to go back to a better, happier time. A time when my Grandma was still alive.

I fondly recalled watching her tinker away with her tools every Sunday when I came to visit her with my parents. Curious, I asked her what she was doing. She replied by showing me how she made a necklace. Today, that very same necklace hung around my neck. It was the last keepsake my Grandma had left me before she passed away ten years ago. It held within it all the memories and everything she had taught me. 

If I chose to close Monserene, it would be like putting out the flames of her legacy. How could I give up?

Yet the weight of my parents’ words weighed on my back like a cross. Could I afford to be selfish, to chase dreams while my family struggled to make ends meet? 

My panicked thoughts grew wild, growing louder and louder with every second that passed. I struggled with the weight of my decision, falling into a spiral of self-doubt. My mind was racing a million miles a second, and my thoughts threatened to consume me. 

“Li Yin?” The warm and familiar voice broke apart the dark clouds in my mind, bringing with it a wave of peace and stability. I looked up as my father knelt beside me, his weathered hands wiping off the tears streaking down my face. Had his hands always been this wrinkled and worn? “I’m sorry, sweetheart. We didn’t mean to push you like that. We want you to know, whatever your decision, we are so proud of you.”

Once again, I clutched at my necklace, and I felt my Grandma’s presence washing over me, urging me to be courageous. Filled with determination, I took a deep breath. “I’m sorry Dad, but I can’t give up on Monserene. It’s more than just a business to me. It’s everything Grandma taught me, everything I’ve worked for.”

With steely resolve, I looked into my dad’s eyes. Reflected back I saw desperation, but also within that darkness a spark of joy and pride. “We’ll figure something out, Li Yin. We always do.”

The days that followed were a blur of emotions and difficult conversations. I sat down with my parents and we poured over budgets, discussed new strategies, and sought counsel from mentors and friends. Slowly but surely, I could see the light in my parents’ eyes return, as they immersed themselves in the possibilities of endless opportunities.

Weeks turned to months, and we gradually managed to crawl our way out of our financial hole. After much hard work, Monserene was finally in the green. A whopping $32. It was a paltry amount, yes, but symbolically it was a testament to the trust and belief my parents had placed in me and my dreams.

As I glanced once again at the necklace around my neck, I knew that my Grandma was smiling down at us, her spirit woven into every thread of Monserene’s success.

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