Family


禮拜五的時候外婆因為我宴請大家吃北京烤鴨跟東北酸菜火鍋,爽死我啦~家裡來了10幾個人,大家談笑風生,笑聲不斷…有夠happy的~曾有人說憂鬱雖然是個疾病,但是像我們家過度happy也不太正常…哈哈

吃飯的時候大舅從山東的港口打電話來,舅媽讓我跟大舅講電話,大舅劈頭就問在上海找到沒?我很納悶,問他說,你是說工作嗎??他哈哈大笑,說,你知道的啊!我看看我舅媽,問…找甚麼?看到舅媽想笑的眼神,我大概也猜出是在問甚麼…「找到老婆了沒啦!」昏倒~只能沒好氣的說…早的咧…講到這個讓我想起舅媽在機場接我的時候也問了我同樣的問題。我才剛上車舅媽就問子劍你有沒有找到女朋友?我只是笑笑的說當然是沒有囉~舅媽竟然說你不要這麼害羞啊!看到喜歡的就要追!~舅媽…兩個月能幹嘛啊?大舅舅媽我看你們幫我找還比較快….

吃完飯後二姨約我去看電影,去看料理鼠王。這部電影我早就想看了,可是在上海等了兩個多月就是死不給我上映,氣死我也~二姨也一起邀了大姨還有我們親愛的外婆去看。電影4點半開始,我們4個人3點多到電影院。我去蘋果專賣電上網,外婆他們去逛街。等到要集合的時候,我看到外婆手上多了一個袋子,心理想說又買了啥啦…外婆看到我超興奮的給我介紹他新買的東西,結果是…拖鞋啦~外婆很高興的跟我解釋這不是一般的拖鞋喔!這是布希也穿的拖鞋,很透氣,塑膠又是特別處理過不會臭,很棒的…看外婆一直跟我講這雙拖鞋,說實在的我連那家牌子都沒聽過了,更別提布希穿甚麼拖鞋了…但是外婆一直講…我也不好說甚麼,只是嗯嗯的聽他講~超好笑的!~

料理鼠王這個電影超好看,而且好笑,看的我們四個人哈哈大笑。原本擔心外婆會睡著(看電視常常這樣…),但是也不是問題。我看到電影院裡其他觀眾都是我這個年紀,而且無非是男男女女,我想一想還真是蠻好玩的。23歲的男孩,53歲的二姨,60歲的大姨,85歲的外婆,一起看電影。這會是一個特別又美好的回憶…我想我一輩子都不會忘記我跟這三位大美女一起看電影~Smile

廣告

So today after lunch me and grandpa was strolling our way back to home.  It was just him and I, and for some unknown reason grandpa began to talk about China and its future.  Ah yes, I remember now, it all started with a Pepsi.

After lunch I was quite thirsty and I went to buy a Pepsi.  A side note, while I was lining up to pay, a middle aged mother fu**er cut in the line twice, I was about to slap him dead, but I digress…After seeing I got a Pepsi, grandpa began to say something about President Nixon and his visit to China.  Something about Pepsi Co. saying if only 1 Pepsi was sold to each person in China every year, that would be enough to cover the cost or something.  I wasn’t really listening attentively, still thinking about that bastard who cut in the line twice…

Then the topic somehow turned to China and its future.  Grandpa said he once told my dad that his hope was that all his grandchildren can develop their careers in China.  “China is our country, it will always be our country.  America is their country, and it will always be their country".  As I listen to him it occurred to me that my grandparent’s generation’s thinking is quite different than my parent’s or mine.  Although that is to be expected, all generation have gaps, this gap is deeper than I expected.

To my grandparents, they are Chinese living in Taiwan.  All their decisions of sending their kids to America and learning from westerners, are made based on the fact that China was weak and in turmoil.  All the things they did was to improve their own lives and wait for China to come to a level where it was suitable to live, as it was when they were growing up.  Inside my grandparent’s heart, they are always Chinese, no matter where they live.

Then came my parent’s generation.  They have never seen China until recent years (and probably some still haven’t seen it).  To them, Taiwan is China.  Mainland China is that hell that their parents escaped.  Now occupied by this evil empire, they are the surviving ones from the great war that turned China into this dark place that it is.  The notion of being Chinese is vague and only something they learn but can’t feel.  They say they are Chinese because the textbook tells them so.  But when they see other Chinese from mainland China, a foreign feeling arises.  It is still us Taiwan and you China.  We are different from you.

Then came my generation.  For the lucky few (including me), we have been blessed to be able to be born in America, to grow up in America, and feel that ourselves is true Americans as well.  To us, being Chinese is even a more vague idea not only can we not grasp but further more do not even think about.  We are Americans, and the good thing about being in America is that you can come from any culture, but when you become American, you ARE American.  All the past can be safely erased and you can belong in the mainstream.  Classifying us as Chinese Americans is an insult because Americans should not distinguish our differences.  Chinese Americans are the same and Caucasian Americans and both are no different than African Americans.  At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. 

That’s for Chinese in America.  For people in Taiwan, our generation has been unfortunate enough to be caught in the ideological fight of whether we are Chinese or Taiwanese.  Being Chinese suddenly is a political issue and most are afraid of being labeled.  When I say I am Chinese, most look at me with confusion.  Among Taiwan friends I am labeled as the “Chinese sympathizer", “friend of communist", or “deep blue" (translate those yourself…).  They are Taiwanese, being Chinese is something that their parents or grandparents once were.  The same way that we say our grandparents were once rich and wealthy.  To them China is a foreign country and they are fundamentally different. 

As I listen to my grandpa continue on his talk about identifying ourselves as Chinese and we should strive to make China our home once again, I wonder if he understands that at least 2 of his grandchildren do not think they are Chinese?  And at least 3 of his grandchildren do not act like Chinese either?  In my grandfather’s mind there is no identity issue.  He is Chinese.  The rest of us have to struggle what it means to be Chinese.  His children and grandchildren have never lived in China before, all we hear are old stories of a strong China.  His children and grandchildren grew up in Taiwan or America, and as such they identify with their childhood environment much more than this vague notion of being Chinese.

I have been fortunate enough to identify myself with Chinese.  Why this is I do not know.  Perhaps it is because in college my friends consists of a lot of mainland Chinese and so I do not find them any different than me.  Perhaps it is because all the 武俠小說 and history stories I read when I was a kid gave me such an appreciation of Chinese culture that I never considered becoming otherwise?  I look at the people who resent their own culture and say that they are not part of who they belong, and I am confused.  They must really hate what they are in order to say such a thing.

And so I am proud to say, grandpa, at least 3 of your other grandchildren now will probably fulfill your dream.  My two young cousins have never lived outside Asia.  They will both be coming to Shanghai soon (one this September and the other next year).  When I think of their childhood and how they will grow to identify themselves, I see an encouraging environment.  They will come to Shanghai and grow up with other Chinese.  Chinese from Shanghai, Chinese from SuZhou, Chinese from HangZhou, Chinese from America, Chinese from Europe, Chinese from all places.  To them they will grow to understand what being Chinese is really about, what it means to be Chinese.  No longer will they have to ponder who they are or what group they belong to.  Perhaps when they grow up they will even come to view their cousin’s identity problems or decisions as foolish and incomprehensible?  My, my, what a day that will be…Grandpa, looks like your dream will come true after all.

It’s getting hard to make a title nowadays….What I write often has no unifying theme anymore.

Spent an afternoon walking on the streets of Taipei. Nothing interests me anymore. Is it because of jet lag? The lack of companionship? Or the fact I just saw the same stuff merely 6 months ago? On the same subway, looking at the same buildings. Gone is the sense of detachment from the people around me. Perhaps I haven’t changed that much after all.

Yet, hidden from all this is a feeling of separation. The end of this summer will mark the 9th year I am away from this adorable place. I have seen and experienced things that, although individually seems minute, aggregated together has transformed me. I look at the young men in Taiwan and cannot help but feel foreign. Their hairstyle, sense of fashion, and general personality. So different! Trying to imagine myself being fit into their frame, what I would look like if I stayed here and adopted their style, and I find myself in a comedic mood.

I talk to my grandmother after lunch, like two old people reminiscing the past (yes I know, I’m an old man). I sit there and listen to her talk about her grandchildren, my cousins. Those little stories that I have heard a million times about her time in Shanghai. The house she lived in, the life she had. I cannot help but feel a sense of sadness and longing from her. Has the brightest time begun to fade for my dearest grandmother?

She talks about my cousin, her favorite one. The college girl who took her to some Thai buffet a couple days ago. I’d like to think that I’m my grandma’s favorite grandchild, but I smile as I see her eyes light up when she describes that afternoon. I guess being the second favored grandchild is something I can live with ;).

Then our subject turns to my cousin’s brother, that troubled teenager who is on the wrong path. The tensions he has in his family, with his father, my uncle. Grandma talks with surprising peacefulness, yet sadness. Like an overworked worker who comes home at night and has no energy left to deal with the unsatisfactory aspects of life, grandma talks with certain emptiness in her eyes. What can you do?

She continues her peaceful conversation, talking about my 3 cousins and their childhood stories. How my aunt would drive her car and take all 3 children to school. How my grandpa would take one of them to school in the morning, and go pick her up in the afternoon. Suddenly I feel a sense of detachment even from my family. I am that child who grew up in a foreign country, a grandchild that was “the kid from America". I don’t have much memory of my grandpa, mostly because he never talked to me.

In my memory, he was always that quiet old man who sat in a chair and just looked at you. All the things my grandma talked about him was like describing a distant man who existed in the past. The stories she talked about him, about his interactions with my cousins, all seem so…oh I don’t know how to say it…Distant and unfamiliar.

I look at her, listens to her complain that she is but a person waiting for death. The cooking, daily routines, her sore shoulders and declining stamina. She cannot go travel because she gets tired easily. Lord knows she loves to travel, that 22 year old Shanghai rich girl that never grew up after 60 years. She hates living here doing the same thing day after day. It sucks her of vitality, depletes her energy.

I tell her mama says the same exact thing in my attempt to cheer her up. She smiles and shakes her head. Your mom is young, I am 85 years old! What is left of me? I can only smile and assure her there is plenty left in life for her to explore. Yet it anguishes me to know she feels this way. This is certainly not the way I want my grandma to live her time after so much suffering and hardship.

I think about her life, her family caught in Taiwan’s modern problems. One cousin married late, doesn’t yet have a single child after 5 years. One cousin doesn’t want to marry (rather, his girlfriend refuses to get married.  I thought getting married was every girl’s fantasy dream?!). One cousin married an American, such a foreign concept for even my open minded grandma. One cousin has a boyfriend, yet she is approaching 30, and does not seem to have any wedding plans soon. That troubled teenager cousin who is in the army now. God knows what he will make of himself when he has finished serving the army. What does she have? A childless third generation family that seems neither in a hurry to marry nor a hurry to have children. For someone from my grandmother’s generation, there is indeed not much left for her to be happy about.

She continues on to tell me this year’s 端午節 will be her last. 封刀了!以後不煮了! I am happy that she will cook her very last 端午 lunch for me, but at the same time I feel unfortunate. I have rarely experienced those lunch and dinners, as I’ve been away for so long. All those memories from my childhood has begun to fade, and I wish I can eat those same lunch and dinners for years to come. Looks like plans to bring my future wife home and taste my grandma’s amazing Shanghai cooking will not be realized after all. Knowing this will be my last makes me so so sad.

I look at my napping grandma, and I so desperately want to do something that will make her happy. Yet I know whatever I do may not do much. What I can do now is to make her proud, not by making the big bucks, not by getting straight A’s. No, she does not care about those things. Bringing something to look forward to, knowing something good will be happening in the future, the sense of excitement, expectation. Now that’s something would make my grandma happy and cheer her up! Perhaps she’ll consider cooking again after I cheer her up? Just a thought….;)