Sat 6th July 2013 A new story.
This is actually my second attempt this week. I wrote a lovely long blog on July 3rd wishing all my US friends and readers a happy July 4th, but it somehow refused to transmit. So, belatedly, Happy July 4th.
I grieve for the wonderful 19 fire fighters who died in that awful wild fire in Arizona. They are irreplaceable in the hearts of all who love them and their deaths a great shock to their community. I hate waste of any sort and this death is a very great waste of fine young lives. May there be no more.
I haven't done any recording of MEMORIES IN THE BONE this last week because I am trying to work on the sequel to it. Am about a third of the way through, then got stuck for ideas. I guess I really need a vacation as it is winter down here but have no shekels since I spent up large on marketing in the US for MEMORIES IN THE BONE. One good way you readers there can help is to go to your local library and request it. Then you can read this for nothing. Baker&Taylor and Ingrams are the distributors in the US and they specialise in stores and libraries. Can you do that please?
Now I am going to post the first part of another short story. I call it THE CONNECTION meaning that of the human kind. It is a story about an old Chinese woman's problems with her western born granddaughter. I believe this is a very universal problem -- that is the connection between grandparents and their grandchildren are often severed. So I hope you enjoy this. It was one of my first short stories and in a way is cathartic. I too, did not treat my grandmother all that well when she was alive.
My granddaughter has large almond eyes, thick wavy black hair and skin the colour of a peach that had been left a little too long on the branch. Her European father calls her complexion olive and says she could pass for an exotic Greek.
She is beautiful by any measure, East or West. I can see that. But her attitude, it pains me. She does not treat me with respect. She should call me Nainai, not Granny and she should spend time with me after school. She never asks how my day has been or how my lunch was with Mrs. Chan and the other women in our mahjong club. No, instead, she throws her bag onto the floor and goes straight for the fridge to forage for food. She helps herself to whatever she likes from the fridge but never offers me anything, not that I am hungry at that time of the day, but it is courtesy, you see, this is what she lacks.
She barely says, “Hi Gran”, barely looks in my direction and I, at nearly seventy has to learn foreign greetings because my own granddaughter refuses to learn enough Chinese to greet me in the language of her ancestors.
She spends too much time on the phone and not enough time doing her homework. I always know who she is talking to by her tone. I may not know a lot of English but you don’t get to my age without picking up on nuances, even in a foreign language. She has a special way of speaking to that boy down the road, that Andrew Willeskie; a winsome smile plastered across her face, a soft inflection to her voice.
I caught them kissing. She is only fifteen and now she has lost her innocence. Disgraceful, but she does not care what I think nor does anyone else in the family.
I feel unwelcome in this house.
My son-in-law Gerald tolerates me well enough. At least his four years teaching at Tianjin University had given him an understanding of our ways. But my granddaughter, New Zealand born and bred, whose only excursion to China was when she was six months old to visit with me, despises the old ways.I knew when my daughter married a European that there could be trouble with their progeny, that they who would be confused as to which camp to belong to. I know, from the way my granddaughter looks at me when her friends visit and how she hustles them to her room and keeps them there till they leave, that she is ashamed of me. They never say goodbye to me, not even in English. It is like I am an insect, a cockroach in the kitchen. But my daughter is blind to my granddaughter’s behaviour. She has a full time job at the bank in the city. She is much too busy to notice such things.
When my daughter and son-in-law are out in an evenings, I eat dinner alone in the big western kitchen; every pot and pan out of sight, all its surfaces cleaned and sterile, like this house. My granddaughter will not eat with me. I know she likes Chinese food but rather than spend more time in my presence than is necessary she warms up a slice of pizza and takes it to her room.
I want my granddaughter to know that this old Chinese woman she despises so much is descended from a remarkable woman. I want my granddaughter to be proud of her Chinese heritage and to make her appreciate me, her ancestress.
To be continued...