Tags: family



When I was 4 or 5, my 婆婆 died. The only memories I have of her are almost like a sick caricature: of her struggling to live with dignity while paralysed in bed; and of her coffin moving in slow motion into the incinerator. With that latter memory comes the sound of my mother crying and the feeling of my wet hand holding on to my younger sister's. And then the concept of death was and what it robbed from us became very clear to my little self. It took me a very long time to get over the image of my grandmother entering that gate of fire. I suffered from nightmares and I cried every night afraid that my mother and then I, eventually, would suffer the same fate. Suddenly, separation was real, death was tangible and this terrified my 5 year old self so much.

It was very convincing that death should be on the opposing side of life, but because death and memory often are linked to each other so inextricably, I'm not sure if they even hold any binaric relationship to me any more. My grandmothers perhaps lived harder whilst being dead, that in death they were with us even more often than they were alive. And that maybe in death a certain being holds more weight than while alive. Living is the hardest part of life and I'm not sure if dying is easier. Or even harder. Considering I'm not dead yet.

但願人長久 is a poem/song that I associate with my late 嫲嫲. Not because it was her favourite song, but because when I finally forced myself to acknowledge her death and remember her, this song played. It has no correlation to death whatsoever, but funnily enough, longevity. But there's longing. And as we are a thousands miles apart between heaven and earth, and between dimensions and states of being, the moon is still visible from wherever you are. You see that? The only reason why I cry now is because I find you sporadically in my head in an image that has grown too soft and faint.

I will not pretend that both my grandmothers have been exceptionally close to me. But I know given the chance, we'd love each other very much all over again.



How long has it been since you left us suddenly? Three? Four? Five? Sometimes I really cannot keep track. It was an unexpected departure and I don't think I was ever ready. 嫲嫲, recently someone asked me about you. Someone whom I've never met before. But Alysha was interested enough (I think?) to ask me about you. So today, I wrote bits about you for her and all of a sudden, I miss you very much. I was afraid you were going to be a distant memory in years to come.

嫲嫲, you would have been very pleased with how our family is expanding. Slowly but surely. Before you left, none of us were married. Now Carol is expecting twins (龙凤 at that!) on top of having Cameron. Iris's son has the largest eyes. Alan and Grace just got married and another cousin is getting married soon. Adeline is probably next. You would have been so pleased and happy.

I've been a bit lonely the past year. 嫲嫲, how did you deal with it when 爷爷 left 30 years too early?


I just want to remind myself that if the people in your own home can hurt you, there is no reason why the people of this world won't or can't. If the people in your own home can dig out past hate, grudges and unfounded accusations, there is no reason why the people of this world won't or can't. If the people in your own home have voices that linger in the dark, that can can pierce through the dark silent nights and can creep up on your self worth, there is no reason why the people of this world can't and won't do that. If the people in your own home can throw out loose words, there is no reason why the people of this world won't or can't. If the people in your own home can call you insulting names and degrade you, there is no reason why the people of this world can't and won't do that. I just want to remind myself.

589 ; TWO

My father told me a story, entirely in Mandarin in the car today.

In ancient China, this boy was going to the capital to take the Imperial Exam. He reached the capital a few days early, and decided to rest in a nearby inn. While resting for the night, he had 3 different dreams. Firstly, he dreamt that he was planting a flower on top of a pagoda. Then, he dreamt that he was wearing a cap and carrying and umbrella. Lastly, he dreamt that he was sleeping next to his childhood sweetheart naked, but his back was facing hers. Waking up sweating, he decided to consult the fortune teller. The fortune teller said, "Son, your dreams do not bode well. Your first dream means that you're a very stubborn man. It is impossible to plant anything on top of a pagoda, but yet you choose to try. Your second dream shows yet again, a difficult personality. Why do you need to wear a cap and carry an umbrella? It is redundant. Lastly, you and your sweetheart share no destiny and fate. Already sleeping together, but are unwilling to face her, as well as acknowledge her. Son, the situation ahead looks bleak."

The scholar was demoralised after hearing all these, and was sure that he would fail his exam and bring shame to his family. Instead of bringing shame, he chose to not take the exam, and tell his mother that he missed it due to an unforseen storm. Packing his things, he decided to leave the inn and head for home. The boss saw him leaving and asked, "Young scholar! Why are you leaving so soon? Have you found a better place to live in? Is my place not good enough?" The scholar shook his head and told him about his dreams, and what the fortune teller said. The boss, surprised at that, asked for the scholar to share his dreams, so that he may share about his thoughts.

After hearing the dreams, the boss said, "My child, those dreams look good to me! The first one shows that you will suceed in the examinations! Planting a flower on top (高种 literally) of a high pagoda means that you will have high aspirations. Do not fret! As for the second dream, it bodes well! It shows cautious behaviour as you wear a cap as well as carry an umbrella to doubly protect yourself (双盛保护). As for the last one, you may not have fate with your sweetheart as your backs face each other, but as long as you turn around (反身 literally), you are already facing her! Tell me, how can you not suceed?"

After hearing this, the scholar thought hard about it. He decided that it was a waste to not take the exam because of a few dreams. He became the top scholar, and married his sweetheart.

He told me another story later. But I'll leave that for another day.