From an “Outsider” to Being a Member of His Family

The brickworks, laid by the husband, to make his wife look good in front of his own parents, and the wife is learning the ways of her husband’s home too, and, because the foundation by the husband was lain well, that is why, she’s, getting perfectly along, with her in-laws now, translated…

Back then, as my husband took along his parents to my home to ask my father for my hand, my father who’d, spoiled me like a princess, kept bloating and bragging about how good I was, like I was, out of my husband’s league. During which time, I saw my in-laws who’s not the least bit articulate held their straight faces, but still, smiled courteously.

After I married, my father-in-law treated me, “the Princess” and “daddy’s girl” with great courtesy, never asked me to perform any actions. And, as my husband and I moved out of their house, my father-in-law came by to see our place, and, turned back to my mother-in-law, “Come by to clean up this place for them at another time!”, once I’d gone to my in-laws’ for supper, and, I was slicing up some radish, and accidentally, cut off my nail, and I’d let out a yelp, my father-in-law came, and, I’d gotten my mother-in-law nagged by him, “Just do it yourself, how could she know how to handle these sorts of household chores?”

My mother-in-law treated my father-in-law’s words like they’re, from God, and ever since, she’d treated me with a ton of kindness, never let me into the kitchens to help out with the chores, and had, come to our home from time to time, to clean up after us. And, although I’d felt, blessed by this “gift”, I felt, a bit upset too—I’d felt, that I was, treated like, an outsider, and not a member of my husband’s family.

My husband is the quiet type, rarely talked to his parents, he’d refused, to give them the money he saved up to serve them in person, and I was, the middleman of the deliveries. And, every month as my mother-in-law received the envelope, she’d kept pushing it back into my hands, and thanked us repeatedly, and, through time, this “pushing the envelope” became, a time we’d shared together, and, through our conversations, my mother-in-law learned, that I, who was cherished by my father like a princess, wasn’t locked up in an ivory tower at all, that I was someone with whom she could have great conversations with.

And slowly, anything that’s occurred in my in-laws, I was the very first one my parents-in-law called up, whether it be businesses at the banks, or, needing a replacement of the old appliances, they’d discussed it with me, their daughter-in-law, instead of their own son. And, naturally, I’d loved, being, a “window” for helping my in-laws with the nitty-gritties of their lives, and so, they’d not, seen me, as an outsider anymore!

Once, my husband’s aunt who lived alone, and was under economic duress came to my place to pour her heart out to my mother-in-law, I was using the internet inside the study, and suddenly, I’d heard my mother-in-law stated, “Take these……it’s okay! We have more than enough, my daughter-in-law had given me money to keep……yeah, she’s, truly, wonderful! We have more to talk about than the conversations I’d had with my son!” I’m more than certain, that my mother-in-law who’s a straight shooter, wasn’t saying it because I was in the next room and can hear her.

Perhaps, I have my husband to thank, he’d told my mother-in-law, that I was the one, putting in the money to give to them per month, that he wasn’t the one putting up the money, and, although I’d still not gotten a handle on how to do the household chores well, but I’m noted as a good daughter-in-law in the neighbors’ and the relatives’ minds. Perhaps, I should be grateful, that my husband is very strong and silent, because of his quiet, his cherishing every word that came out of him, I’d become, the family with whom my in-law felt comfortable, telling things to.

So you see, the reason why this mother and daughter-in-law got along quite well is because of the son’s doing. The man had, paved the way for his own wife, to work as a “public relations” between his own wife and his own parents, and, that is a good husband does, being kind to his parents, and at the same time, acting as a bridge between his parents, AND his own wife, after all, the household harmony is the most important thing, when you live in a sort of an extended family like this, isn’t it???



Feeling kinda, nostalgic here, translated…

The heart of the afternoon sun refracting outside my windows, carefully, looking into my house, the light that’s refracted with the corners of my windowsills brought me back to the old days. Lifting my gaze, the familiar sight, pulled my busy steps to a halt—a wheelchair, the final thing that my mother ever used, it’d, accompanied her, until the very end of her life.

Seeing that wheelchair reminded me of my mother again, and, my tears started, flooding me over, it’d, blurred out the skylines, and, the teardrops, collected into a huge drop of water, with the nostalgias, the memories of her, filled in. I’d, stared at the wheelchair, and saw how the years had, turned, with the wheels that kept, cycling. These years, we’d gone all over the places, up the mountains, into the oceans, kilometer after kilometer after kilometer, we’d, journeyed together, gone back to her former home in Marabang Mountain to recall her childhood days, the Sun-Moon Lagoon for that boathouse stay and the cable cart rides, the Dragon-Phoenix Harbor to see the larger ships and the sunset………my mother’s smiles, bloomed in midair.

photo from online…

The wheelchair also, accompanied my mother to the hospitals, in the rain, the wind, or even, as the humidity rose, trip by trip, without any word of complaint, it surely, was, a good helper. Before she had this “assistant”, when she’s injured or ill, and needed to go to the hospital, we’d, lifted her, and, the stresses of caretaking had, slowly, reduced the patient’s dignity. The unfortunate paralysis, and can only lie in bed until she died, such, an awful end! The wheelchairs had, blessed many of whom who were, kept bound by their immobility, the handicapped individuals, with the help from the wheels, slowly moved along, met up with the springtime, sitting on the wheelchairs, allowing the sights to, enrich their brand new lives.

Looking over, the streets, the parks, the hospitals, what sort of a state of mind do the wheelchairs carry? Those who were, still thinking about their younger days, and looking at the photos of their younger selves; or those who had become, dumbfounded, forgotten what year this is. Comparing what’s happening next to the wheelchairs, the colorful people, with their, newly learned Chinese, coloring the faces of those who were, wheelchair bound, trekking down toward the sunsets. And, we’re, no longer, keen on those who were caring for us being our blood, the foreign nurse’s aides and the wheelchairs, became the new scene that’s, hung up, at the turn, over every corner now.

I’d, pushed the handles along slowly, why is it, so heavy? Turns out, it’s, my mother’s, care and concerns for us, and her memories too. The steps she took were, no longer intact, but, the thoughts of missing her so, glistened, in my eyes, the wheelchair carried my mother and the life she had with her family, the laughter, the sorrows too. The setting sun painted that picture of blessing, I’d, cut off that colorful sunset, and, wrapped my love, my wishes in, written down these, words of gratitude, hung them on the back of my mother’s wheelchair, a sort of, a scent of, eternal, nostalgia.

And so, this, is what this woman remembers, as she saw her mother’s wheelchair again, it’d taken her back, to when her mother was still alive, and the memories they shared with one another, will forever, stay fresh in her mind, as the wheelchair will continue, to be a reminder of the interactions they had once shared together.

A Dying Hobby

Feeling nostalgic, over what was, being replaced, by modern day technological advances, remembering, the good ol’ days here, translated…

At the gatherings, my friends et up an assortment of collection of photos, often, everybody would use their cell phones, to send and receive the photos, to relive the joys from the moments we’d, gathered together. And, before the cell phones were invented, this was, next to, impossible. And now, not only in the gatherings of friends, cell phone photos, became the omni. Trips, gourmet dining experiences, concerts, exhibitions, information, peeping, car crashes, scenes of accidents, catching someone cheating too………all are, captured by the cell phones. And, the photos don’t take up the storage spaces, it’s, loaded up in the Clouds, stored forever!查看來源圖片like this???  Photo from online…

And we can, touch up in the photos of people too, to make the people we photographed looked more radiant, or younger than they, actually were. And now, we can add the camera lenses onto the cell phones, to switch the lens. There’s, the selfie sticks, and, people who know how to use it, are having, a grand time, using it, and those who have no clue of how the selfie rods worked, wouldn’t take a bad picture of themselves either. With a cell in hand, photographing, at any given time of day.

The photo albums had, become extinct, and after a few years from now, it’ll be, antique for sure. But, those with elderly at home, would often have the albums, with the “historic” figures, and pictures of their, younger selves. And, the one flipping through these albums, are nobody, but yourselves.

One day as I’d sorted through the bookshelves, I’d found a box of films between seven, eight albums. Opening it up, an assortment of black-and-white photos, of various sizes, leapt out toward me, and, my dusty memories, became clear. These were, my spending time in a dark room. Yes, I’d once, developed the films, in a dark room.

查看來源圖片using something like this, where veverything IS controllled, manually?  Photo from online…

Although, the cameras were, familiar, but mostly, the shots I’d taken, were, at random, and I’d only known the basics of techniques, so, I’d rarely succeeded in shooting. About thirty odd years ago, I was friends with the famous photographer, Hsin Wang. I was, attracted to her work, and, asked to take lessons with her, she’d told me, with a serious manner, “If you want to learn this, then, learn the skills well.” “Of course, when classes are in session, you are, the lecturer!”, and, there were, six, seven of us in her class, and we’d all needed, our own cameras, I’d asked my teacher, to go and select a Leica with me. She’d started teaching us about the camera itself, the parts, and what each and every part’s functions were………I’d, focused on what’s told in class. We’d, turned in assignments weekly, the lecturer would point out the good and the bad of the photos we’d, turned in to her. And, she’d taken us, on “field trips” every now and then, the same scenes, her photos were always, way better, than ours, whether it be the lighting, the depth of the scenes, the focus, we’d all paled by comparison to her. And this had, increased our wills to learn even more, and, we’d, made progress, and felt proud of ourselves for our achievements.

Hsin Wang’s techniques of using the darkroom, had gotten to the artistry, she said, that the darkroom itself, was way more interesting than the photography itself, that without taking the lessons in working in the darkrooms, then, our lessons in photography, wouldn’t be, complete! And so, I’d, turned the small room, at the end of the hall upstairs in my home into a small darkroom, and, in the direction of my photography instructor, I’d, bought ALL the equipment for it. From developing the films, to enlarging the images, step, by step, repeatedly. Not only, was this interesting to me, it’s, intriguing. Even as I’d failed, it was, intriguing too, because, I get to, see where I’d, failed, and improve the next time, until, I’d, succeeded. Especially in the developing of the films, in a machine that enlarges the photos, I’d become, a magician, I can select any part of a photo, and, enlarge it however way I’d wanted to, to the depth, or the lightness, everything, I’m, in control of. The images appeared slowly onto the film, and, with a 0.1 second’s difference, a different turn out. On the same film, there’s, the depth of colors. I’d become, attracted to, this uncontrolled, and controlled process, this game that never, turned out, the same. In the small darkroom, after the door was shut, silence, and darkness, all around.

I’d enjoyed this sense of joy alone, the small room became, enormous, free for me, to soar in.

Sometimes, I’d waken up in the middle of the nights, put a coat on, and, found my way into my darkroom, and, I’d, played around with the developments of the films until morn, and still felt, energetic. If there’s a picture I was proud of developing, then, the joys from making it happen last the whole day, I’d personally, experienced, what it felt, to be, taken with something now. That small room carried my spiritual and mental satisfactions, the darkrooms became, the re-creation of photography. Woolf said, “A woman needs her own room”, and this room much produce a “spiritual ration” for us, to be, fulfilled. Although I’d performed averagely in the darkrooms, but, the happiness I got from my own creativity was enormous. But……it seemed, that very shortly thereafter, the technologies, got ahead of me, and, we can shoot photos from the cell phones we used to call people with, only in a few short years, the smartphones came, and, killed off eighty, ninety percent of the traditional cameras. Slowly, the films, vanished, the equipment for the darkrooms, gone. But, at this “end”, there were, the professional photographers who’d not given it up yet, I’d given the equipment in my darkroom to someone younger, and, my darkroom got, turned into, a storage space.

What was lost, wasn’t just, a hobby, was also, that time of solitary and isolation of being all alone inside, with the dimly lit red light, that feeling of magic, of having my body and my heart and mind working together. That was, a different sort of a feeling from reading and writing in lit areas. I’m not going to have this sort of a more-depth kind of hobby anymore! Although, there’s, that joy from working with my hands and minds in my painter’s studio, but, there’s, the irreplaceable atmosphere from the darkened, lightless, darkroom.

And so, this, is how a form of art is lost, replaced by, modern day technology, and this showed how, we’re, allowing the advances in technology, to take over our lives, to make us forget, what it used to be like from before, when we hadn’t, gotten, introduced, to these, modern day technology advances yet.

The Rain, from Here on Out, a Poem

The Canned Pineapple that’s Set to Expire on May First

Secrets that he’d kept since he was a young child, translated…

“Everybody has a secret that s/he carries”, if this line by Ang Lee can be applied to life. I recalled that very first little secret, was like those canned pineapples set to expire on May 1st in Kar-Wai Wang’s “Chungking Express”. Limited. With a set expiration date.

“That was, a soliloquy from the second Friday of May in my second grade year”, something that can be included, in the extra footages of those blu-ray discs. The secret that’s been, almost forgotten, with the strong start.

That day, I’d gone to the small grocery shop by the school, the kind that the disciplinary official had announced to the student to “not go in and buy those unsanitary food items”, I’d bought some colorful, yummy snacks, that were, made with the chemicals. Those red colored sliced dried mangoes, the bright yellow plums, the dried bean curds that were brown, the pink centered Play Gum, along with the fluorescent colored tube of candy. That very first secret I’d ever had: I’d wanted to collect my favorite food items, and give it to my mother for Mother’s Day.

And, for these things to turn into gifts, it’d, needed, to get wrapped up. I’d rummaged through the house, and finally, found that carnation colored beautiful small box. And after I’d, carefully, guarded this tiny secret of mine for 36 whole hours, I’d finally, handed this box filled with my gifts to my mother, at the moment as she was, heading out to my grandmothers, to celebrate Mother’s Day too. She was, a bit surprised, and had that look of, “Are you doing this for school?”

“Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, very aromatic, thank you.” She’d picked out a small slice of dried bean curd, placed it into her mouth.

“Oh wow, it’s, so bitter…………”

This later became, my second secret in my life.

As I got older, the secrets were collected by the dozens, and they got, bigger, and bigger, and bigger.

And, if I classified them, some of which would “get told, had someone asked me about them.”

Some are kept in that pile, of “I’ll only spill after I’m dead”. But, if I get tortured physically, just a little, I would be squealing too, from when I was quite young, I’d known, that I’m not set, to work as a secret agent for the government.

Some of those secrets, were labeled as, “I can tell you, but you can’t tell my mother.” for instance, the thirty-six years since my third grade year, I kept guarding my second secret in life.

“Actually, I don’t think that the sliced bean curd pieces shouldn’t get wrapped in the cherry-scented soap boxes.”

And so, the secrets we’d kept from when we were young children, were of minor matters, but, as we got older, and became better at keeping secrets, the secrets we kept grows up with us, and, if we got too used to keeping all the secrets in our lives, then, we’d become, falsities ourselves.

The Air, My Friend

The column by Jimi Liao, ‘cuz it’s, another MONDAY!!! Translated, by me…image from…

There’s Nothing We Can Do Now

But, Just Keep the Beautiful & Passion-Filled Summer in Our Minds

And so, all you’re left with, is the memories, of those, good ol’ days, and yet, sometimes, you can’t even have that……but hey, that’s L-I-F-E, isn’t it???

The Unspoken Secret

A lie, to make their mother feel blessed, the only time that lying is, good, translated…

“I’m in my eighties, and had, just won my very FIRST receipt prize of $200, I’m truly, happy~”, my mother couldn’t hold back her joy, and I’d, held back my smiles, and felt, more than glad for her.

That was, the secret that’s been hidden, inside us sisters five’s minds. My mother who’s very old-schooled, rarely went out to shop, and, many years, my third youngest coaxed her to shop at the supermarkets, and, she’d bought a bag of toilet paper, received a very first receipt in her life, she’d, taken the receipt home gleefully.

圖/Dofaillustration from the papers online…

Because of her simple mind, my mother always believed everything we’d, told her, on the day the numbers were posted, my third youngest sister asked my mother to bring the receipt over, because she’d, won a prize. “Wow, mom, you’d, won! Congrats!”, my third youngest turned over to us, and squinted her eyes, and hollered aloud. And my mother didn’t know, that the prize was my third youngest sister, pleasing my mother, she’d, made it up.

Because our father died young, and there’s, no money he’d, left behind, my mother became a widow at a very young age, other than taking care of five young children she’d needed to, take care of her mother-in-law who was, elderly, and had a stroke, and bedridden too. The neighbors who’d lived in the common dorms, couldn’t bear that she’d had to, face so many hardships in her life, they’d once, tried to convince my mother, who was very beautiful, to remarry again, but she’d, said no, and raised us all up into adults, and, the hardships is unimaginable to anybody else.

Since I’d started my own business, my mother who was educated by the Japanese ways, would follow me to and from work, and helped answered the calls at my firm. When she has the spare times, she’d picked up the newspaper, and learned to read. She’d often made fun of herself, “I’m reading whatever comes to me.” but, the progresses she’d made was, incredible. Awhile ago, she’d read the articles on the papers word for word, and, felt, that a lot of the stories that were written, had coincided with her life experiences, then at the very end, she’d finally realized, that the article had been, written by her own daughter, and started smiling right away.

She’d started using a computer lately too, to have webcam conferences with my youngest sister and her granddaughter. On the weekends, she’d taught herself to play the piano in the top floor of our home, and used her Japanese phonetics, and taught herself the twenty-six alphabets in English too; my mother’s love of learning, had passed through forty years’ time, and now, every Tuesday afternoon, my third youngest sister would accompany her to her art classes.

Everything my mother does, became something all of us modeled after. I think, now, without the strains or the lacking of the resources, the only thing that’s pressing right now, is to make my mother happier. That, was why my third youngest sister had, made up the lies of how my mother had, won the receipt drawings back then.

And, for all the years, as the winning numbers were, posted on the newspapers, and seeing how we were, disappointed that we didn’t, win, she’d always, consoled us, and recalled, how blessed she was, of winning that time. And, that childish smile that, expanded across her face, was what we’d enjoyed seeing, the most. And, this secret that we’d kept for so very long, the five of us, sisters, will, continue to keep.

And so, this mother is satisfied with so very little, probably because of the environment she was, raised in, and, these five sisters had, made up a tiny lie, to make their mother feel she was, blessed, and, it’s a good lie, to make their mother happy.

Our Accidental Japanese Roommates

Encounters on a trip abroad, and lesson learned, translated…

It is, quite risky, staying at a B&B, sure. But for this trip to Tokyo, the risk seemed, heightened.

The second B&B we went to, was at a great location, but as I’d, entered into the house, I was, thrilled, by the landlord’s stinky shoe rack. The landlord told us, that he has two jobs, and goes out from eight in the morn, and returns home at eleven at night, so, as we first started staying there, we’d discovered, that the front gates were opened, 24 hours a day. Inside that two-story short house, there are, three extra rooms, aside from the landlord’s own bedroom, and there were, the number illegibly written on the doors, and, the notes that were, about to fall off, welcoming us in. There were the supposed clean sheets and towels and the pillow covers on the beds, for us, to make our own beds. My friend whom I’d traveled with, Z said she wanted to turn on the heater, and found that the red light on the heater was blinking repeatedly, and we’d, found the translations for the words below, “Clean the filters”. I’d booked the room, and, the result of trying to find a cheap stay was itching the whole night through to the morn from allergies. This landlord made the rule, that each booking is a three-night stay, and, Z and I decided, that early in the morn by the third day, we were to run to our next place, and we’d, already, paid, for four nights.

The next homestay, comparably, was equally old, although very plain, but at least, it was, cleanly. The biggest problem was as we head to sleep, we’d realized, that there’s, NO heater (and the red light for the filter was also red and blinking)! Z and I, froze through the night, and didn’t sleep well, the very next morn, we’d, contacted the landlord.

And still, the man wasn’t even, the landlord, probably just someone hired, to oversee the working of things, he’d told us, that if we’d needed the quilts, we can check the closets. There wasn’t even a closet in our room, there was, only, a screen door, we’d, pushed through it, a warm breeze came—seemed like a working class male’s bedroom, with the shoe shaper inside the dress shoes. I watched that brand new heater working, felt, that we were, saved tonight. Z said, this is probably someone’s stay? That the man didn’t return last night, but the heater was turned on through the night. I’d wrote an e-mail to the landlord, Z had pulled the door up a bit, leaving that small crack, so the warm air can get to our room.

At eleven that second evening, the next door tenant came back as I carried out my bag of chips. And, everybody was thrilled, he’d blamed us, for pulling his door all the way open, we were taken too, told us, that it was the landlord who’d told us we could do it, besides, last night was, freezing cold. This man’s first name was “Guan”, Mr. Guan is fluent in English, learned of our predicament, and realized, that it was, the landlord’s fault. Z apologized to him repeatedly too, and handed over the bag of chips I had to him to share, and, we’d, chatted it up.

Mr. Guan works in the finances in Singapore, made a lot of money, but lost it all, and now, he’d returned back to Japan for his new start; at age 35, he has two children back home. The most interesting thing was that he was a believer of a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. He’d not minded share the heater with us, but worried that his early morning routines of Buddhist chants might wake up. Early the next morn, I seemed to hear chanting in my sleep, but, I seemed to sleep deeper.

As we bid our farewells the final night, he’d handed that box of strawberry flavored chips he’d just bought to us, and asked our birthdays, said that if we’d not minded, he could read our fortunes for us. And so, we’d, traded our birthdays with his business card, and Z promised that he will, stay in touch.

The very next day, we’d, bumped into him again by chance on the subway, he had a shopping back from the convenience mart, Z said goodbye to us happily once more, and I’d found, that the bags contained the same things our bags from yesterday had. Turns out, the strawberry chips were, his breakfast.

Meeting up with Mr. Guan seemed to have been destined. This experience was shocking, but without the dangers, and I’d met this interesting Japanese roommate. But, what I’d learned from all of this, is, to NEVER take the cheap things as is.

And so, you GET what you paid for, that, is the lesson to be learned here, isn’t it? But, because of their booking that bad B&B, it’d given them the chance, to meet up with someone interesting, and they’d become, acquaintances, and hopefully, this connection will stay…