Monday, 25 March 2013
Blessings Everyone. I hope this finds you all as happy as I am. This weekend is Easter, the birth of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn down here in Godzone-Aotearoa- New Zealand. Now why am I happy, you may ask. Well, I am because I have just decided to give myself a project for Easter. A play. Yes, I am going to write a play over Easter. Not that I'm a playwrite, but I have that great story in MEMORIES IN THE BONE and think I shall take the section set in the Maori village in North Otago,(the part where my protagonist Zhou Yu finds solace but where eventually the tentacles of revenge catches up with him). It will be a powerful one hour play and if I win the competition it is meant for, will get as prize, a director, actors and dramaturg to work with me on my script. And that will be a double whammy. MEMORIES IN THE BONE --the novel and MEMORIES IN THE BONE - the play.
So that's my ramble. Now for the final of A HANDKERCHIEF IN THE RICE PADDYS.
Grandma and Mama, when she visited, were perplexed at the sudden change in our relationship, but they left us to sort it out. We lived in our sea of guilt and recriminations. I could no longer look him in the eye. Our Saturday excursions were no more, our homework sessions ceased and afternoons dragged. When we were alone, he would plead, “Please, Lingling, forgive me. If you don’t, I’ll kill myself.” I refused. He didn’t, but I often heard him weeping in his bedroom at night.
I missed our innocence, missed our Saturdays but held on to my hatred and my shame. The pain between my legs healed before too long. My grades dropped, but miraculously, his didn’t.
At the end of the year, his father visited. “Swee has passed his seventh form exams with excellent marks, Lingling. I’m sending him to medical school in Sydney.” He looked at me with something more than paternal pride. “He wants to marry you upon his graduation. That would make us one big family. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” My screams as I ran out of the house flummoxed the elders.
I discarded every one of his letters. After two years, they stopped coming but I got snippets of news from Grandma who kept banging on about what a great opportunity I was missing – to be a doctor’s wife. Then at eighteen I was accepted into Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand – not quite Roy Rogers’ country but close enough. Graduating with a degree in economics, I applied for and was offered a job in local government, and settled in New Zealand. Soon after, I married Damian, one of my tutors.
Over the years, news about Swee drifted to me. He had married a nurse whom he met during his internship at a Sydney hospital and they had migrated to Canada -– to a remote part of the country where only migrants were prepared to go –- near the Tundra, where there was a settlement of Inuits and Native Canadians.
With time, the incident in the rice paddies melded with other memories into the backrooms of my mind – cellared against the better things in my life. Then one day, a slim parcel from Canada arrived in the morning post. Inside was a letter from Swee’s wife informing me of his death eight months previously. He was kayaking to a settlement upriver for his weekly clinic when his kayak was overturned in a sudden squall. His body was found a day later. He had left the enclosed packet with other important particulars in a bank safety deposit box with instructions that it was to be sent to me, wherever I was, in the event of his death. Saddened, I opened the slim, long packet:
There it was – the lace handkerchief, cleaned and ironed, neatly folded over, enclosing a golden sheaf of rice.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed this short story. Next week I shall post the first part of another one.
Till then, Adios,