An Imbalanced Family, on Filial Relations

It’s really truly sad, to live like this in one’s elderly years that’s for certain, translated…

A decade ago, after my maternal grandfather passed of illness, my maternal grandmother started living alone on her own. My eldest aunt gave my grandfather’s house, land, and car to my two uncles, even the house my maternal grandmother lives in right now, went to her eldest grandson, my eldest male cousin, and still, they’d never discussed the issues of taking care of, looking after my grandmother one bit. Several years passed, my youngest uncle died of an accident, my elderly grandmother thought, that my eldest uncle will get her to live with them, but, she’d never gotten the chance, for the kindness she thought she was due.

And now, my maternal grandmother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, slightly psychotic, without MOST of her abilities to live on her own, and yet, my elders, they’d made up an assortment of reasons, to make my grandmother live all on her own. In order to keep my illiterate and my unmobilized maternal grandmother safe, my eldest aunt who’d worked away installed a surveillance camera at her place, which she can monitory using an app on her cell phone. I’d also, once, saw my grandmother’s eyes on my cell phone too, and, the moment I met her eyes, my heart started, wrenching in pain, because she looked so defeated, without any light in her eyes whatsoever.

Toward my grandmother, my aunts had constant disagreements with my uncle, and, the matter over the money, of caretaking, had caused the family to become, more and more estranged. I’d gone from my original feelings of anger and hurt, to now, I’m, totally, uninvolved and numbed, I saw, ALL the colors of the world in the way my maternal grandmother was being treated; I’d even secretly thought to myself, if my maternal grandmother died earlier, perhaps, she wouldn’t have LOST all her dignities where she is right now.

I still can’t understand, or condone the way my elders treated my maternal grandmother, or maybe, as an offspring, I shouldn’t, butt in that much, but, I feel, so helpless, of this case that I once bore witness to on the television news in my own life. I can only, hope for myself, that after I’m older, I must, take good care of my loved ones.

Imagine how helpless this “child” must feel, watching her grandmother being left alone by her adult counterparts? And, maybe, there is MORE to what had happened, or maybe, the children felt that their mother didn’t love them all equally, that, is why they’d mistreated her so, we really don’t know, but, one thing’s for sure: that NO elders should be MISTREATED like this, unless, they really DESERVED it, and by that I mean, if the elders had, abused AND neglected, even RAPED their own young, then, they GOT what’s coming to them, but, normally, NOBODY deserved to get mistreated like this, to be left alone, to be NOT cared for in one’s own elderly years.

The Stolen Bicycle, a Treasure Map of Memories

Memories of your younger years, translated…

Perhaps, it was the Drive to Catch the Thief that’s Gotten the Best of Me, to the Point that I’d Run So Fast, Forgetting that I Still Have a Heart, I’d Just, Chased After the Person Endlessly………

Another sunny Sunday, a father took his ten-year-old son to the park, taught him how to ride a bicycle. The child was on an oversized lady’s bike, and that father pretended to be a pole, so his son can, ride around him, around, and around, again, and again. The, the father extended his left arm, said it was a tunnel, had the son pass through it carefully. As the son passed through it each time, the father minimized the pass, to test his riding skills.

this, is against the law, a matter of theft!  Photo from online…

Although the father was giving the son more and more challenges, but, I can tell, that he was, getting more and more nervous with each and every time, with his eyes zoomed in on his son, not looking away, kept stating, “Do be careful! You must, be careful…………”, but the child was, more than relaxed. The interactions of that father and son was moving and humorous to me, and yet, this picture of the father teaching the son to ride, it’d, made me recalled how I’d learned to ride.

The Baby Bird Who’d Constantly Flapped His Wings

One day, in my second grad year I’d called home, my mother told me on the call, that my father had, bought me a bicycle. At first, I’d not believed it, we weren’t well to do, why would my father buy me this expensive present with no reasons at all, it was, probably a joke, I’d thought. But, I was overcome with curiosity and excitement, and I took the bus home immediately to see if it was true.

I saw, that in the living room, there was, that brand new miniature bicycle, I couldn’t help but start hollering. It’s really for me! This size couldn’t be for my older sister, or my parents. I’d, tossed aside my backpack, took it out to the barns immediately to start riding.

And still, although, I was, overly excited for having my own bicycle, I just couldn’t, manage riding it. That bicycle seemed to be uneven, as I got on it, it’d, fallen to the side, it just, doesn’t move forward at all, and so, I can ask my older neighbor to teach me to ride it.

The older boy told me, that I’d needed the speed to ride on it, he’d told me, that I needed to gain momentum to ride, he’d held down the bicycle for me, allowing me to get on. Then, he’d held the bicycle by the handle and by the back of the seat, slowly moved along, then, all of a sudden, he’d, pushed the bicycle forward fast, and, shot me outward—but, I’d not learned how to ride, I’d, fallen and gotten injured worse, bruised and scratched all over! In the end, he’d lost ALL of his patience, and told me to practice on my own.

After a few days of practice, I still couldn’t manage it, but I’d, refused to give it up. Until one day, I sat on the bicycle, and ran toward the bottom of the hill, I’d swayed left and ride, in my own panic, not wanting to fall down, I’d, learned how to balance myself on the bicycle. I was like a baby bird, constantly flapped its wings, and finally, took that leap into the air, learned to fly.

still learning how to…not my photo…

A Bicycle that Vanished, into Thin Air

After I’d learned to ride, I could head off to farther places.

I’d gone afterschool, to visit all of my classmates on my bicycle a lot; back then, there were, not even a handful of us classmates with bicycles, so, it wasn’t just my transportation, but also, something I used, to socialize too. Everybody took turns, riding on my bicycle, and I was able to, make a lot of friend because of this.

But one morning when I woke, my bicycle was gone!

I was heartbroken for a while, really depressed, and decided, to find it back with a friend of mine. Everybody headed out from the village I lived in, and started scanning the area, to the apartment complex one, two kilometers away, but, we’d searched for it several days on end, still, NO sign of it.

As I was about to give up, one day after school, I saw a teenager, riding to a neighboring apartment complex.

I’d chased after him immediately, screamed out, “Why are you riding my bicycle?”, he was shocked, then started, pedaling hard, tried to outrun me. Maybe, it was, my thought of catching the thief, I ran to the point that I’d forgotten I still had a heart, just chased after him endlessly. As the teen saw he wasn’t going to get rid of me, he’d ridden into the downstairs of an apartment, then, left my bicycle, ran up the stairs. I’d stopped, and, checked out my bicycle, not really having the mind, to see which apartment he’d run into.

My classmates were so shocked and happy, I’d found my bicycle, and asked me why I didn’t blow the whistle on the guy who’d stolen it from me, to teach him a lesson? I’d said, just let it go, my bicycle was still good, and, he probably just wanted to know what it felt like to fly like everybody else.

So, I’d, allowed him to ride my bicycle, for an entire month is all.

So this, is a memory of childhood, being the only one in your class with a bicycle, and, perhaps, the older boy who’d stole your bicycle saw how much attention you got, and wanted to feel what it was like being the center of everybody’s attention, or, that he may be too poor, to have a bicycle, and just, took yours away to ride it for a short while, who knows, it didn’t matter, you’d gotten your bicycle back at the end.

Falsifying My Bliss on WeChat

The need, to wear our masks, all the time, translated…

There are two communications app I used most frequently, Facebook and WeChat. All the friends I have on FB are all from Taiwan, and ALL my friends on WeChat are my friends, families in China and my classmate, and these two communications app showed my two sides of life.

The posts on FB are mostly articles I’d submitted to the papers that’s gotten published, for the sake of keeping them on file. Although I’d rarely disclosed anything personal about myself on FB, but, my friends who were tentative can still see what’s going on inside of my mind through reading my posts on FB. There was a friend who’d asked me caringly, “You seemed to be unhappy for some reasons, aren’t you?” Facebook, was my response toward my reality.

let’s see, what expressions should I have on today???  Not my photo.

As for WeChat, with the economics flying ahead in China these couple of years, my hometown of Chuangzhou became very industrial, and, even IF I don’t read the postings of my relatives or friends, I’d known how much they were making, how their standards are living, is now, comparable to the life in Taipei, even, exceeded the quality of life in Taipei. Comparing to how I’m still, struggling in the cracks, I’d be lying, if I say that I don’t regret my choice from long ago, I’d also cried myself to sleep on nights too. But, there’s, NO use in regretting in life, even IF we’re stuck in “Can’t get back the past, can’t see the future”, I can still, virtually live out my present, to allow myself, to believe in the possibilities of bliss, and so, I’d started, a happy life on WeChat.

Because my friends and family in China had NO idea how I was living in Taiwan, as I’d posted on WeChat, I’d always shared the better news and not the bad. Subconsciously, I’d not wanted my relatives and friends in China to know how much hardship I was weathering in a foreign land, because, who will, shed a tear for you for that? Why not, just show my better sides. For instance, when my boss turned eighty, he’d treated all his employees to a meal, I’d streamed my actions “A journey with my taste buds”, and streamed the photos of the friend pigeon, baked shrimps, along with other savory food dishes———and, heaven only knows, that this meal comes, once, PER decade! And, I’d gone to a book signing for a writer, I’d posted a photo of me, looking beautiful, labeled it, “A banquet of literary”. Hehe! Pretending that I’m still writing, literary, since I’d left home, to pretend I have NO excess worries in life, to be able to, pursue these sorts of a spiritual enlightenment in life.

Once, a couple of my better classmates skipped over an article I wrote of my childhood, and started giving kudos to a former classmate who’d done very well for herself, being as sensitive as I, I’d felt hurt, but, I’d wanted to not wallow in self-pity, and so, I’d, posted the photo of my company’s year-end banquet, with “a beautiful evening” as the label, and, two smiley face emoticons, and, it’d, gotten my classmates started. I’d also posted photos of me on outings, making me seem like I’d traveled all over Taiwan, but, life had been, too busy, that I’d never even, step foot outside of the city of Taipei, I’d never even been to Alishan or the Sun-Moon Lake even.

not my artwork…masks we wear 的圖片結果

And just like so, I’d, pretended I was living THE life on WeChat, pretended that life was so easy, like the female protagonist in Maupassant. But, I’d heard, that faking your smiles long enough, your smiles become, genuine, so, faking my happiness long enough, it can, become, real right? I truly hope so. oh yeah, my display name on WeChat is “Happiness Befalls”.

So, this, is actually, really hard, for the individual who wrote this, because s/he had to, put on this façade, to paint on that pretty face to show the rest of the world, even her/his closest of kin, and this, is probably, due to this, deep seated sense of insecurity s/he had since s/he was growing up, and, if s/he keeps this up, then, s/he will become, completely, SPLIT, and, end up having a LOT more troubles than s/he had to begin with!

The Era of My Son’s First Taste of Love

On parent-child interactions, translated…

The year my son entered into high school, they’d used the examination grades to see which school he enters.

With my son’s test scores, he could easily get into his first-choice, but, he’d taken a lot of time, to “brain wash” us. He believed, that his first choice had a ton of studious students, that there’s enormous academic pressure if he attended there, but, if he’d chosen his second choice, he would have no troubles at all, managing his course load and he’d be happier too. There were, FOUR other elders who’d tried to persuade him otherwise, using reasoning, and threats even, but, we just, couldn’t, deter him at all.

Later on, we’d finally known the reasons, turns out, he’d fallen for a fellow female classmate, and, her grades can only get her into her second choice, a co-ed high school. On the eve before the deadline of turning in his school choices, my son handed the card for his mother to sign, his mother took a glance at it, told him she didn’t want to sign it, wanted him to give it to me to sign. I took it, and, there was, NO way I can, change his mind, but I’d still asked him, “You never know what tomorrow might bring, this girl may well become a stranger to you in the future…………”, without me finishing my sentence, my son told me, that he knew all of this, meaning he didn’t want me to lecture on him all over again.

And so, I can only tell my son, that he needs to take responsibilities for his own life, and had him sleep on it for a night, and on the next day, I will, sign it. Then, the very next day, it wasn’t even five yet, and I was, waken up by him, “Sign it!”, he’d told me. After my son left for school, my wife asked me, with a greenish face, if I’d signed it? That was when, I’d become, completely AWAKE, and realized how serious this had gotten, I’d immediately texted his homeroom instructor, and told her what had happened. At around noon, his homeroom instructor told me, that my son had, gone to change his selections already.

But, how is this, possible?

Turns out, his teacher called him out, and asked him, “Do you think So-and-So had shown an interest in you?”, my son replied, “I suppose, yes!”, then, the teacher found the girl and asked her, but the girl replied, “No, we’re just, friends.” “And, if you’re just friends, he’d gambled his future away from you, I think, you should just, clarify it with him face-to-face.”, for the summer that follows, my son waited by the phones every single day (back then, we hadn’t gotten him a cell phone yet), and naturally, that girl who’d become, Unknown Stranger A, never even called.

Every time my wife thought about this, “The over ten years of teaching him, still can’t beat out the hormones of puberty.”, I’d replied back, “It’s expected, his stubbornness of love, like his dad, his stubbornness, like his mom!”, my son made a sound with his tongue as he heard us discuss this.

So, this, would be his first taste of love, and, this young lad was actually, about give away his better chance at a future away, for a girl, who just saw him as a “friend”, but gladly, the son knew this before he’d made his final decisions of where he’s attending high school, and this is still, parents, meddling in the lives of their own young, the parents thought they knew what’s best for their teenage son, but, what if they don’t, then, they may well have, SCREWED up the lives of their young, but gladly, this, is not the case here.

It’s Not a Matter of “One of Two”

It’s NOT ANYBODY else’s decision BUT her own, so, WHY won’t the family members, just let HER decide for herself, W-H-O she is to marry??? A Q&A, translated…

Q: Her Rich Ex and Her Current Boyfriend Who’s Poor, I’m Against My Older Marrying Either One of Them…I’d received a letter from M, who’s worried about who her older sister is dating. M is from a nuclear family of four members, and since her older sister was younger, she’d been excellent, and naturally, their parents worried about her making friends and dating. M stated, that her older sister had gone out with two boyfriend the first one was from a background of doctors and physicians, but, the guy’s family looked down on her older sister who was working on her graduate studies, and the guy didn’t treat her older sister right. They’d dated for a couple of years, after her older sister who’d gotten her graduate degree decided to test for a public position, the man broke up with her, and yet, after her older sister managed to pass the public services exams, he’d wanted her back again.

And now her sister’s boyfriend is a public office worker, not from a really well-to-do family background, his younger sister is mildly retarded, and, the entire household economics all landed on him solely; and, worrying about issues such as genetics, M’s parents were totally against her older sister and him together, and they’d wanted her to go back and marry her ex-boyfriend.

And because of their parents’ being against it, M’s older sister hadn’t gone home in six months, and, the parents had, banned M from contacting her sister too. Her mother wanted her older sister to marry her ex, and her older sister only wants to marry her current boyfriend, as for M, she didn’t want her sister to marry her ex OR her current, what, should she do?

A My Advice

Who, does the older sister marry, it’s not longer a problem of one of two anymore, as the ex already struck out, there’s only M’s mother, who’s still, daydreaming. Did you notice, your older sister’s ex-boyfriend’s family believed, that they’re, higher than your family, and, your family felt, that her current boyfriend’s family was, LOWER than yours; you’d based your views on the boyfriends on external factors, wouldn’t this be, too narrowminded?

I strongly advise, that you STAY out of it, instead, you should, help your mother and older sister communicate better, to have her bring her current boyfriend over more, to see, if they’re suited to marry; if so, do have your mother let go, if not, ask your sister to think things over more. Aren’t all parents want what’s best for their young? Do take a step backward each, and, think on each other’s behalf more.

So, this, is how it goes, the family, after the older sister DUMPED her rich ex-boyfriend and started dating her current, less-well-to-do boyfriend, they now have a basis for comparison, and naturally, this current boyfriend doesn’t look like much, compared to the ex, but, because of how the man’s from a family of various situations, the parents worried about genetics, which is, still WAY too soon to be thinking about right now, they’re JUST dating, nothing’s happened yet, and, it’s still NOT up to her parents, OR M, to decide WHO her sister will marry, after all, it’s HER life, she should have the SAY in W-H-O she’ll marry!

We Sisters Five

The paths we took, to where we currently are, and, we’re, still, so very close to each other, the love and connection shared by these sisters, translated…

My mother had five daughters in seven years, and so, our ages are very close, and, naturally, we looked alike as well, but, to be at the same height, at around the same weight, that, would be nothing easy. But, just how alike are we all?   Let me give you a few examples.

Once we gone to Bamboo Lake’s taro field taking our own selfies, unknown person A saw, and started hollering out, “You look like quintuplets!”, and there was that other time when we went on a hiking pass, a woman passed me by and, asked abruptly, “Hey, weren’t you just, in there?” During the time when my mother was hospitalized, the five of us looked after her in shifts without fail, and, as I’d asked her primary physician about her condition, he’d replied in an impatient manner, “Didn’t I just explain it to you?”, I knew, he must, have misrecognized us again.

老媽七年連生五女,所以我們姊妹年齡差距不大,樣子像同一個模子刻出來的也是自然,但...here is the whole gang!  Picture from the papers…

Every time the five of us got together, we’d, become, noisy like birds, and so, everywhere we are, we’d often, gotten the attention of passersby, and, there would be, fellow hikers who’d greeted us, “You are all, sisters, right?”, “You ladies are so very close!”, “Let me guess, which one of you is the eldest and which is the youngest.” Then, the person would, look at us closely, and, guessed based off of her/his sixth sense, and, if the individual guessed wrong, then, s/he would stomp and look upset, but if s/he’d guessed right, s/he then, high-five her pals. The five of us going out, we’d become, of entertainment values, that, would be, an added perk, I suppose.

The fourth youngest of us was the one with the highest degree, back then, the five of us slept in a big bed together, shared one desk, and, she, being very slow, had never won at it, and so, she’d taken the advantage of the time the rest of us are fighting over who gets what, to take the bedroom all to herself, and catch up on her sleep first, as the rest of us turn in at night, she’d, waken up, and started studying, on that desk the five of us all had to share. This way of reverse operations, it’d led her all the way to her doctoral degree, and she’d started teaching as a professor too. As she’d started lecturing us, it’d, made us all silent, and bow down to her, but, her biggest downfall was “a total lack of sense of directions”, she made the most classic of the errors of those without a sense of direction, and, we’d often, brought it up, to make fun at her for it.

Back then, the MRT Muzha line wasn’t operating yet, the five of us after eating and drinking, we’d started, heading toward Hsintien, my fourth youngest sister lived in Muzha from her high school years to after she’d married, it’s, her area, she’d hollered out to us, “Take the bus to Taipei Main Station, then, transfer onto the MRT to Hsintien. Let’s set out!”, we’d followed her order, without doubting, only my son, who was in middle school back then didn’t move an inch, he’d told us, “Muzha is neighboring Hsintien, it’s not that far away by walking, why would we need to, go all the way around?”, that, was when Professor Liu realized it, and started making fun of herself, “Such, an awakening!”

back when we were younger, not my photo…

My second youngest, third youngest, and fifth youngest sisters shared the same interests, they all studied accounting, and started working in related fields after graduation. We’d paid the mutual funding to my fifth youngest, and she’d taken care of the expenses of everything we do together as a group, and, after the meals, when it was time to pay, the three of them always got together and started whispering, would using coupons save more, or, would the credit cards give them more of a discount? Then, they’d, looked up at the ceiling together, and did the math mentally, and, with them nickeling and diming like so, it did, save us a lot of money.

From when we were little, we’d fought like crazy, refused to let each other get the upper hand, but, as we aged, we’d become, closer, and closer to each other, we couldn’t, take our parents’ last words lightly one bit. As for me, I am, the eldest, but, people who didn’t know us would often mistaken us, because I looked, almost exactly the same as my fifth youngest sister, and, we are, confusing to outsiders, and, from before when we’d fought over the reading desk, I’d used my being the eldest to win, but, I’d not made better grades, and, I’m also, easily lost on the roads like my fourth sisters, the only outstanding thing about me was, that I’m past age sixty, and still have 20/20 vision, and, as we ordered the items on the menus, everybody relied on me, to read out the items to them.

and now, we’re, all grown, not my photo still…

This is a group of five sisters, and, surely, when they were growing up, they fought a lot, but, after they got older, they realized the importance of having each other’s love and support, and, they’d, complimented one another too, which, was what made them fit together as a whole group that well.

The Face of Death

Gaining an in-depth understanding about life and death here, translated…

I took the New Year’s vacation, went to visit India, to visit that famous town of Varanasi next to the Ganges.

This town which was called “more ancient than the legends” by Mark Twain, an Indian sacred city, still had its down-to-earth looks. There was a rundown altar inside the bumpy and narrowed streets, with the multitude of paintings of Ganesha, linking life to religion here.

On the small pathway, the long tones of the horns sounding from the motorcycles, with the livestock, along with the stray dogs, fighting for the right of way; the colorful flowers for offering, the scent of incense burning, was a strong contrast to the scent of the mud on the road and the cow dung. After a few days, I can probably, map up this city, based off of the unique scent I whiffed in the various districts.

But, the most famous in Varanasi was still that step-by-step crematorium, impacted the foreign tourists’ fears of death. I’d come to India, just for this, I’d wanted to switch up the celebration of the New Year’s with “celebrating the rebirth with death”.

And still, as I stood there, by the burning fields, being impacted by how close death was to me, I’d found, that this sort of ordinariness, was still something I have difficulties, accepting in reality. For several days, I’d stood on the watch balcony of Manikarnika Ghat.

As the blazing fires swallowed the corpses, sometimes, a charcoaled arm would, slid out from the wrappings, like a dried up log, continued burning. And the constantly rising up hot air, mixed in with the enormous ashes, with the scent of burn, and the balms applied to the bodies, came towards me. Although it wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be, but being so close to death, to the point, that it can, land on my skin, breathing in the air, it was still, quite difficult, for me, to adjust myself to that impact.

And, I’d recalled the very FIRST funeral I’d ever attended—my mother’s. Since I was growing up, don’t know why, but my mother also warned me to stay away from funerals. As my grandmother died, my mother took the whole family back to Nantou for the funeral, but left me with the neighbors. During those couple of nights, I kept imagining what death looked like, thinking of how I will meet it one day too, how it would, gnash its teeth at me. After my mother died, as her coffin was burned down in the incinerator, what went through my mind was not losing her, and feeling sad over it, but I’d tried, capturing what death looked like in the midst of the fire, how scary is He? So much so, that my mother had, tried to protect me from it when she was alive.

Naturally, there was, NOTHING in the fire, even my mother’s face, and, that heat from the blazes, had all, been isolated, on the other end of the protective glass. Death, I still have, yet, to bear witness to.

The days I’d stayed in Varanasi, watching death, breathing it in, it’d slowly, become, ordinary to me. On the fifth evening, my mother came to my dreams, and that, was the very first time I’d dreamed about her, since she’d been gone, so many years now.

In my dreams, my mother was sitting by the folding breakfast table, silently eating. I’d watched her wrinkles curiously, her white hair, her slow chewing lips, then, my mother turned her face to me, looked at me and said, “If you have problems in math that are troubling you, do remember, to ask your older brother to teach you how to do it.”

I was laughing so loudly in my dream, because that, was what my mother would nag me on whenever I’d visited home, as I studied in the English majors back in my university career. After I woke up, I lay in bed, feeling that life and death IS like a dream. The looks of death, maybe, it’s, as light as a caring greeting and advice from my mother.

So, you’d been waiting for this dream a long time, since your mother died, and, between the time when she’d passed, to where you are currently, a lot had happened I’m sure, and, you’d, become older AND wiser, and gained more and more knowledge and understanding about life and death.