Her daddy’s little girl, translated…
My father went with the armies in 1949, floated across the seas to Taiwan, and, stayed single for eighteen years, then, had his children, I was a piece of his heart, and during his weekends home, he’d always, lifted me up over his shoulders, so I can, look at this colorful world from a bird’s eye view. The elderly woman from the military retirement village, Tu made fun, “Xiang, you’re treating your daughter like he’s your mistress, aren’t you!”, at the age of three, I’d, innocently repeated, “I am daddy’s mistress!”
the precious love between a father and a daughter, photo from online…
My father’s “first” wife worked hard, to keep the family budgets, while his “mistress” got served her meals, waited on hand and foot, I’d gotten all my father’s love, before my father took off his army uniform, his voice saying, “Where’s that mistress of mine?” came echoing.
Uncle Lu from Sandong opened up a noodle shop after he retired from the army in our village, the small wonton was my favorite, and, not knowing how the characters sounded, I’d mistakenly sounded wonton as “bastard”, and since then, “I’m taking my mistress out to have some bastards!” became my father’s call as he took me out.
In the first grade, my school teacher made us go on the podium to tell about our favorite foods, I’d told the class, I’d loved having “bastards” the most, and, the teacher as well as the students all opened up their eyes wide and inquired, “what IS that?”, the minced pork, wrapped with the flattened dough, like the clouds, floating in the soups, tasted slippery and aromatic, I’d used my limited vocabulary, and described it, then, my teacher got it, “oh, that’s call wonton!”, and, I’d called wontons bastards for four years on end, and nobody bothered to, correct me!
After school, I’d told my father righteously, the correct way to call the food, and that “bastard” is something you say when you insult someone else that we shouldn’t, say it at all, and ever since, my father changed his words, and “I’m taking my mistress out for wonton!”, my father had the large bowl of wonton noodle soup, and I had the large bowl of wonton soup, with the red bean buns.
Back then, there were only three T.V. stations, other than the cartoons, Mr. Bao, and the sword-fight soap “Bodyguard”, there’s, no other form of eight o’clock prime time soap, and everybody matured later, until in our first year of middle school, did we all learn, that “mistress” was a term, given to a homewrecker. And, I’d gone home, and gave it straight to my father, I’m not a mistress, I’m your little girl. And then, my father lost his younger mistress who’d climb onto his knees, and only the wife who grilled him every now and then.
When he said, “Honey, have some wonton.” I’d told him I wanted to go read comics with my friends, to ride bicycles, to head to the libraries, and the era of eating the wontons, ended, with Uncle Lu passing away, the noodle shop closing, my father got older by the day, and I, busier and busier.
Slowly, he’d, forgotten a lot of things, started hunching his back, becoming bald, turned into, a little old man, and, his empty gazes drifted toward the distances, he’d gotten lost, in his own world now, sometimes, he was in China in his home, sometimes, he’s serving the army in Taoyuan, sometimes, he was helping to build the reservoirs……and sometimes, I’m, nobody he knew.
the special relationship of a daddy and his baby girl…photo from online
Sitting on the chair in the yard, he’d carried that pampering tone of voice, with that smile in his eyes, said to me, “Mistress, let’s go and have some bastards!”, “Sure, let’s go!”, I’d buried my teary face in my father’s knees, I’d returned back to when I was three, when my father, was my heaven and earth again.
So this is the parallel of aging of the daughter, and the father, they were both, growing “up”, it’s just, that as the daughter became more and more independent, the father became feebler and feebler, and now, the woman became his father’s “mistress” for certain, looking after him, taking him to places, like he’d taken her everywhere when she was a little girl too.