My Childhood


Many had asked in private communication as to why I seemed to be in such dedication to correct essays during my “downtime” at work and yet; did not seem to ask for anything in return. Some thanked me for such “kindness”.Image

I am sad to say that this is not entirely true.  I have my selfish reasons. The return is the countless triggerings in my mind. I do not know how the firing of my neurons would end.  However, mostly ended positively; for they inspire me both in my writing and musical composition. Sometimes, their ideas are lifted; sometimes they become slightly different gateways. This is how I am able to enter to these slightly different universes to enjoy the immense scenery there.  For this I am most grateful.

Sometimes, they reminded me of things long forgotten, like a pile of rubbish in a dusty corner of my mind, until I espied a glint from the midst.  And; as I approached, it sparkled, scintillated and beckoning.  Then as my fingers caressed the filigrees of the light that it finally shone in its full glory.

Like a magical touch, the full realization of what it is now became clear…

Yesterday, I corrected Hoan’s entry entitled “My Childhood”1.  In it, she wrote, “I often played a game of skill with sticks and a ball…”  Given my experience and not knowing the Vietnamese culture, I almost wanted to correct it to “hockey”.  On a second thought, it is most probably not what she had in mind.  Finally, I changed it to “I often played skillfully with ball and sticks…”.  Hoan wrote privately and sent a video link2 to explain this traditional Vietnamese game, called Chơi chuyền.

Upon looking at the video, I at once realized that it is a variation of “Pickup sticks” game but with the inclusion of a ball in a game of dexterity, coordination and mental concentration.  This is my gateway to a slightly different universe.  The video is the glint and is now glowing brightly for in my mind. The filigrees of light are reaching into the dark abyss of my mind and dredging out some of my own precious childhood memories lying dormant at the bottom.

I remembered how grandmama, in order to alleviate my boredom, stopped her work at the sewing machine and called me to go into the kitchen to get her a cup of uncooked rice grains.  She told me that she had something to show me. I was excited because even as a kid, I knew she was making blanket covers from different colored rectangular scraps of cloth.  Now what do the grains of rice have anything to do with the making of a blanket?

The filigrees of light are now coalescing and glowing even more brightly as I write, remembering how this grand old lady gave her unconditional love to me.

Eons had passed in the meantime.  I have to thank Hoan’s video link for this.  Thank you. For you are that light in making me think of my beloved maternal grandmother and all the hours spent telling me bedtime stories of Old China.

Without her, I won’t be what I am partly today.

And when I returned, there was a piece of rag being cut into five3 smaller triangular shapes.  My eyes grew in wide wonder as she asked for the rice grains.  There she filled them up and painstakingly sewed them into a pyramidal shape.  When she was done, she grouped them together to form a shape called the “Plum Blossom Heart” (梅花心).  There she taught me the rules of how to pick them up quickly and put them back in a different pattern.  It’s an variation of Hoan’s Chơi chuyền or “Jacks”, “Knucklebones” or “Astralagoi” in English.

However, I had forgotten the name she called it.  From searching on the internet, I found that it is called “Catch 7”, “Pick up Gold”4

Thus my reason for correcting assiduously.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

1.  http://www.italki.com/entry/373204

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJKyHeoY-mo&app=desktop

3.  The standard game has seven pieces.  However, my hands were tiny of then and she didn’t want to make it too difficult for me.

4. However, these names do not sound familiar to me.  So after consulting HK gurus from a site, its name is “Wah Tzi”  (搲子)

 

長安花雨 – Changan Tears


流水急急,             Waters flowing hurriedly
今日春光來          Today’s spring is here
明朝去.                 Gone tomorrow.

秋到泪水下更多. Autumn approaches, even more tears flow.
半边空寢,             Half the empty bed,
半边愁.                 Half the sorrow.

日落月起心思思. The sun sets, the moon rises, mired in thoughts.
人在何處?            Where is he?
歸还昔日夢.         Alas but to return to the dreams of old.

流水速速,             Fast waters,
往東遊.                 Wandering towards the east.
花落葉飛.              Blossoms fell, leaves in flight.
辜負丹心念.          Disappointing my sincere thoughts.
扭轉乾坤有何用?  Of what use to turn Heaven and Earth upside down?
追回舊影一場空.   Futility in chasing dreams of old.

一樹梨花壓海棠1, A treeful of pear blossoms weighing down upon the begonias.
半天楓葉伴明月.   Half the sky drowned in maple leaves accompanying the bright moon.

1. Without going into the nifty details of the allusion, figuratively it means an older man taking a much younger bride. The white pear blossoms refer to the whiteness of the groom and begonias, the redness of youth of the bride.