My Second Aunt’s Peppermint Chicken

A dish, made, with a TON of love, translated…

Mom called to ask, if I wanted some peppermint?  “Of course!”, I’d hung up my cell, and, my second aunt came to my mind.

Mom has two older sisters, the closest was my second aunt.  My second aunt married off close to my grandmother’s house, and lived their lives, as hardworking farmers with my second uncle, she’d often used the spare time she had after work, and carried bags and bags of homegrown produces, rode the night trains up to Taipei; her appearances would always cause all of us to holler so loudly, and, those homegrown fruits and vegetables had helped save a lot of money for my parents, who aren’t really that well-to-do.

薄荷雞 的圖片結果marinating the chicken in mint…phoot from online…

One summer, mom took me home to visit when I was in the elementary years, I’d wandered around, there were, fowls kept at the front of the field.  And, suddenly, a red-faced duck came toward me, half-crazed, bit down tightly on my skirt, I was so thrilled I’d started crying loudly.  At which time, my second aunt came out of the kitchens with her cooking spatula, and “shooed” off the ducks, at the same time, trying hard, to comfort me who was already, flustered and freaked out.

The aromatic scents came from the house, it’d, made me forget about the scare I just had.  “So aromatic, what are you cooking, second aunt?”  “I’m making peppermint chicken for you guys”.  I’d entered into the kitchen, saw an assortment of yummy dishes, on the tables, it’d made me, drool.  Her way of showing us the hospitality was, kept getting the foods from the plates, into our bowls.  I’d smiled and told her, “Enough, I can’t even see the rice underneath now!”, my second aunt told me, all of these, are simple and plain dishes.

Later, I’d learned that it takes a lot of preparation, to make a peppermint chicken.  Once we’d arrived at my second aunt’s early, my uncle said, “Your aunt went to harvest some mints at the fields, she should be returning soon.”, a short while later, my second aunt came in, with two large bags of mint, seeing us, she’d, swiftly, picked enough mints and washed the leaves, and, killed a rooster swiftly, and, set up the stoves, to start cooking the garlics, the chives, then, started, stir-frying the mints.

My second aunt salted the entire rooster, then, stuffed the rooster’s inside full of the stir-fried mints, then, she’d, started, cooking the rooster.  As the fire crackled on, she’d kept turning the chicken, to prevent it from burning, she’d become like an octopus, working on other dishes as well.  As the crispy mint chicken was plated and served, I couldn’t help, but get the mints out of the stuffing, and stuffed them into my mouth, and, it was sweeter as I chewed.  My second aunt immediately ripped off one leg, placed it inside my bowl, with love flowing from her eyes.

媽媽打電話來,問我要不要薄荷草?「當然要啊。」放下手機,我不由得想起二姨。 圖/...illustration from the papers…

After I married, I’d lived closer to my mother’s home, every time as she was going to visit my second aunt, she’d always called me up, “Your second aunt asked me if she needs to make the mint rooster, she’ll make one for you.”  “Of course,” I’d exclaimed excitedly.

Many years later, I’d not felt right, troubling my aging aunt, I’d said, “just the mints would be fine”, I’d cooked by my aunt’s methods, but, I could, never quite make the mint chicken like she was able to.

This day, I’d recalled my second aunt, working in and out of the kitchens, I’d, lifted my head toward the skies, said to my second aunt, “Thanks for making your, amazing mint chicken for us!”

Because this family member had, prepared the food with such great care and love, that, was why those who were served it, loved it, and, this is probably why, the writer couldn’t quite, make the same dish like her aunt had, because, her aunt had, cooked with care, concern, and love with them in her mind…

The Night Train Home, a Poem

There’s that hint of, wanting to come home, and yet, there’s also, that I want to get away in this, translated…

Those Wandering Faces Looked Up at the Time Tables in the Train Stations

Those Tramping Shoes, Carried the Bodies, Entered

Into that Final Train

like this???  Picture from online…

At This Time, the Heart Can, Finally Rest

I am, the Moonlight, on the Return

Shivering, Against the Glass Windows of the Moving Trains

Peeping at the Shadows, Taking Over the Seats

How Were There, Two

Two Stiffened Bodies

I am the Light-Yellow Moonlight

Speaking to the Shadows, “I am a Classmate

From Your Middle School Years (the Instructor Spoke in a Combination of Taiwanese & Chinese, His Descent Was China, Can You Understand It?)

“The Big Guy Was Also, a Classmate of Your Middle School Class”

One of the Bodies, Was Me

the only one moving is you…photo from online…

“Meeting Someone I Knew on a Train to Elsewhere”,

That, Was How It’d, Felt, Seated at, the Two Seat in the Trains

“The Instructor Always Started the Class by Stating How He Originated from China, Can You All Understand Me?”

He’d Tried, His Hardest, to Speak in a Language that We Can Understand

As His Successor, You’d Worked, Even Harder

As the Train Passed Through the Cold Nights

The Moonlight & the Hatred All Turned into Frost

You are My Very Best Friend Back in Middle School

So, You’d, Shown Up, at the End of My Journey

You and I, Leaned Against Each Other

Shoulder to Shoulder, Becoming Wings

like this???night train animation 的圖片結果animation from online…

You and I, Returned with One Body, Back Home

The Frost-Bitten, Cracked Web on the Windows of the Trains

Became Like a Map We Traveled Together by

At the Terminal Station

Becoming that Stained Wet Moonlight onto the Seats

So, there’s, that strong sense of solitude, riding on this train toward home, and, maybe, the narrator knew what’s waiting for him back home, that, was why, he was, lingering on in the trains…

Photos in that Camera…

There were, so many photos in the camera, but, none of them meant anything, because they’re all, about the past, and I’m now, living in the PRESENT, and looking toward the FUTURE!

Photos in that camera, wouldn’t it be better, if you just, take that memory card out of the slot, then, reformat it on your computer, to start yourselves on a clean slate?  You know that is what you needed to do, so, why don’t you, just go ahead, click that “okay” button?

like these???  Photo from online…

Photos in that camera, I will never be able to delete, they’re, the only memories of you that I have left.  You’d, gone away (died???), and, I am still, desperately, holding on, to what we’d once known to be an amazing connection between us…

Photos in that camera, I’d lost, I’d, tossed that camera out already, along with the SD disk, and now, I’d, erased ALL the traces of you, from my life too.  Photos in that camera, I’d deleted already, I’m done, with this strong sense of loss, of how you’d, made me feel.

like these…not my photo…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Photo in My Wallet

The only thing, to remind me of you, translated…

At seven, an age which there’s, this deeply rooted need for maternal love, I was taken away by my father because my parents were getting a divorce, and ever since, I can only, miss my mom inside my mind.  I’d heard, that mom took my younger brother, and married someone else in Taipei.

After I graduated from technical high school, I’d gone to military school, and missed my mother even more so.  And, as I’d investigated, I’d found, that my mother lives in Yingge, and wasn’t well-off.  And, I’d taken the advantage of being on vacation, and, didn’t let my father know, and gone to visit my mother, and, the joys from missing each other for over twenty years were, unspeakable.

something like this???  Photo from online…

After I graduated from the military academy, I was sent to the guerrilla squad in Tainan, and, right before I was about to enlist, I’d gone to visit my mother again, and knowing that it would be hard, for me to find days off to visit her again, I’d asked for a photo of her.  In the photo, mom looked very kind and elegant, with her light smile, looking very gentle, I kept the photo, carefully, in the innermost fold of my wallet, and, would take it out to look at every day after I was drilled, like my mom’s there, right by my side, and, no matter how difficult life got, I had what it took to survive through it.

Several years later, my wallet went missing on a train ride, I became so flustered, and thankfully, someone mailed my wallet back to me, and, the cash I had was no longer there, but, to me, the most important thing was that the photo of my mother was still there.

the memories I kept of you!  Photo from online…

So, this, is how hard it was, growing up without a mother by his side, he grew up without his mother, and, that became a missing part of his history, something he’d lacked, maternal love from her, and, the photo that his mother gave to him, became an object of his affection toward her.

The Final Gift

Thoughts of missing you, how this woman passed the love she’d received from her grandmother, to her own young, translated…

“Grandma is dying, waiting for you to get married…”, I’d looked at my child, who’s no more than ten days old, and, those last words you’d spoken to me resonated in my mind.

I’d recalled that one-hundred days after your death, I sat on that chair covered in spots, and thought about how you were always, crying in those final years of your life.  Although you’d forgotten, what had happened to you for the parts of your life already, but you’d always remembered me, your youngest granddaughter, whom you had, helped raised up, as you heard my name, you’d started, grinning, ear to ear.

the gift of love 的圖片結果the gift of love…photo from online…

Then, the memories, they took me over, during kindergarten, I looked forward most to the time when you’d, picked me up from school, then, carrying me on your back, humming, all the way home; and, having you tell those tales that I can already recite forwards AND backwards, and when I didn’t have that, I’d found it hard, to fall asleep; whenever you’re there, I’d, needed you, to feed me; and you’d hated it so, that your youngest granddaughter was so very cute, and people kept telling you, how much I resembled you.

You’d looked after me in my childhood years well, and, I’d blamed myself, for not helping you wipe away those tears you’d, cried.

A short while ago, as I was cleaning up our shared home, I’d discovered in shock, that your health insurance card was, in the closet above my bed, thank you, for this last gift.  How have you been these couple of years?  Dad and I missed you more and more each and every day, I’d wanted to tell you, that I gave birth, to a child who looked a lot like me, and you too, and, just like the depth of love you’d, shown to me, I too, will love him, like you’d, loved me.

how close they were…not my art…

There’s, no greater way, to honor someone, by passing the love you’d received from the individual to your own young, and, this woman must’ve been really loved by her grandmother, that even after the death of her grandmother, she’d still recalled how much love they’d once shared, and, this woman was more than lucky, to have someone like that, an elder, who’d, loved her, unconditionally in her life, and now, she too will, pass this legacy of love to her own young.

Remember, the Days with Youth on Our Sides…

Time to recall, those good ol’ days, as that, is all that we have, memories, of our better, younger days…

Remember, the days with youth on our sides, how wild and free we once were, huh?  Remember how we chased after those wildest dreams and fantasies, not letting anything to get in our ways, keeping us, from reaching those dreams?  Where is that now, huh?  Where’s, that attitude of the world can’t beat us gone to now?

not my photo…

Remember, the days with youth on our sides, it surely was, nice, wasn’t it, to have what seemed to be, never-expiring time on our hands, then, time expired, the alarms sounded off, and, we’re, all, waken up, by this, reality of having to grow up, no more dreaming, Peter Pan!

Remember, the days with youth on our sides, it was, wonderful, to feel so invincible, that nothing can ever, hurt us, that was why, we’d, taken ALL the risks, made the assortments of mistakes in our lives, and yet, we still have, ZERO regrets, as those foolish moments of our younger years in life, had made us into, what we are right now!

days of our youth 的圖片結果not my photo here still…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Corner of the School

What a little extra thought, what some creativity, can accomplish, translated…

The tiles on the walls at the end of the hallways due to thermal compression, had fallen off, but gladly, the students were creative in thought, they’d beautified the walls with the cracked tiles, beautifying the school, and helped saved the school a huge sum of money to fix up the walls.  As I passed by this mural, it’d made me feel that salty air of the sea, and I was right there, with the cat, looking, enjoying the views of the skies and ocean waves.

廊道盡頭的二丁掛磚因熱脹冷縮陸續剝落,幸賴學生的巧思,讓不整的壁面得以改頭換面,...

photo from UDN.com

So, this, is what a little creativity can do.  The students changed this wall that’s cracked, into a piece of art, turned the eyesore it once was, into a piece of art.