Saturday, January 24, 2009

Are you my mother?

Thinking about Zoe's postcard project story, and Xiaoli's visit, reminded me of this story, "Chinaman's Chance," by Tai Dong Huai (remember, I posted about her before -- an adult adoptee from China who writes fiction connected to adoption?):

This is her , I think to myself. A billion-to-one shot, a near impossibility, yet here she stands. In our kitchen. As if hell just froze over.

"This is Mrs. Lim," my adoptive mom says. "Mrs. Lim, my daughter Leah."

Mrs. Lim's is as razor thin as I am. Her hair, like mine, is very dark brown, black by most light. My 13-year-old nose, uncustomarily long for an Asian girl, seems to be reflected in her middle-aged face.

"Ni hao," she says without the trace of a smile.

"Hi," I say back.

* * *

"Do you speak Chinese?" Mrs. Lim finally asks.

"A little," I tell her, which is pretty close to a lie. I'm strictly hello-goodbye-thank-you when it comes to my native language.

"We have much in common," she says.

A glass measuring cup falls from my hand and breaks on the ceramic tile floor. "Shit," I say out loud.

Mrs. Lim keeps her seat as I go for the broom by the side of the refrigerator. "Careful to not cut yourself," she says.

"What do you mean we have much in common?" I ask.

She finally shows her smile, but keeps her teeth hidden. "You speak little Chinese, I speak little English." After I find the dustpan, she says, "So where in China?"

"Taizhou," I say.

"Ah," she says. "In Jiangsu." She pauses a second, then adds, "You lucky to be here. In Jiangsu maybe you be stuck in factory already."

"I was abandoned," I say.

"I know."

* * *

I hear my mom on the front porch and I know my time with Mrs. Lim is almost through. My adoptive dad, were he here to give me advice in this situation, would probably say, "Go for it," or "Swing for the fences." So I do.

"Are you my mother?" I ask.

Mrs. Lim stares at me for a few long seconds, and I'm afraid at first that she doesn't understand. I'm sorry, I'm about to say. Stupid question. But she interrupts my thoughts as the front door opens.

"Your mother," she says, "just came in."

Click here to read the whole thing. I know I say that all the time, but this time I REALLY MEAN IT! Click it!!! Click it, click it, click it!


Lisa said...

I clicked it and I think it's great writing. When are you going to call me back?

malinda said...


Wendy said...

I love her writing. She is very good at putting you in the scene.