Then you must teach my daughter this same lesson. How to lose your innocence but not your hope. How to laugh forever.
Now you see,' said the turtle, drifting back into the pond, 'why it is useless to cry. Your tears do not wash away your sorrows. They feed someone else's joy. And that is why you must learn to swallow your own tears.
That is the way it is with a wound. The wound begins to close in on itself, to protect what is hurting so much. And once it is closed, you no longer see what is underneath, what started the pain.
We all had our miseries. But to despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable. -Suyuan.
So this is what I will do. I will gather together my past and look. I will see a thing that has already happened. the pain that cut my spirit loose. I will hold that pain in my hand until it becomes hard and shiny, more clear. And then my fierceness can come back, my golden side, my black side. I will use this sharp pain to penetrate my daughter's tough skin and cut her tiger spirit loose. She will fight me, because this is the nature of two tigers. But I will win and giver her my spirit, because this is the way a mother loves her daughter.
I had on a beautiful red dress, but what I saw was even more valuable. I was strong. I was pure. I had genuine thoughts inside that no one could see, that no one could ever take away from me. I was like the wind. -Lindo.
Because sometimes that is the only way to remember what is in your bones. You must peel off your skin, and that of your mother, and her mother. Until there is nothing. No scar, no skin, no flesh. -An-mei.
And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds "joy luck" is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation.
And I think now that fate is shaped half by expectation, half by inattention. But somehow, when you lose something you love, faith takes over. -Rose.
Each person is made of five different elements, she told me. Too much fire and you had a bad temper. That was like my father, whom my mother always critized for his cigarette habit and who always shouted back that she should feel guilty that he didn't let my mother speak her mind. Too little wood and you bent too quickly to listen to other people's ideas, unable to stand on your own. This was like my Auntie An-mei. Too much water and you flowed in too many different directions. like myself.
A girl is like a young tree, she said. You must stand tall and listen to your mother standing next to you. That is the only way to grow strong and straight. But if you bend to listen to other people, you will grow crooked and weak. You will fall to the ground with the first strong wind. And then you will be like a weed, growing wild in any direction, running along the ground until someone pulls you out and throws you away.
wisdom is like a bottomless pond. You throw stones in and they sink into darkness and dissolve. Her eyes looking back do not reflect anything. I think this to myself even though I love my daughter. She and I have shared the same body. There is a part of her mind that is a part of mine. But when she was born she sprang from me like a slippery fish, and has been swimming away ever since. All her life, I have watched her as though from another shore.
If she doesn't speak, she is making a choice. If she doesn't try, she can lose her chance forever. -An-mei.
I think now that fate is half shaped by expectation, half by inattention. But somehow, when you lose something you love, faith takes over. You have to pay attention to what you lost. You have to undo the expectation.
But now that I am old, moving every year closer to the end of my life, I also feel closer to the beginning. And I remember everything that happened that day becasue it has happened many times in my life. The same innocence, trust, and restlessness; the wonder, fear, and lonliness. How I lost myself. I remember all these things. And tonight, on the fifteenth day of the eighth moon, I also remember what I asked the Moon Lady so long ago. I wished to be found.
There's no hope. There's no reason to keep trying. Because you must. This is not hope. Not reason. This is your fate. This is your life, what you must do.
If I look upon my whole life, I cannot think of another time when I felt more comfortable: when I had no worries, fears, or desires, when my life seemed as soft and lovely as lying inside a cocoon of rose silk.
When you lose your face..., it is like dropping your necklace down a well. The only way you can get it back is to fall in after it.
Your tears do not wash away your sorrows. They feed someone else's joy. And that is why you must learn to swallow your own tears.
Only two kinds of daughters, she shouted in Chinese. Those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind!.
Only you pick that crab. Nobody else take it. I already know this. Everyone else want best quality. You thinking different.
I saw what I had been fighting for: It was for me, a scared child, who had run away a long time ago to what I had imagined was a safer place. And hiding in this place, behind my invisible barriers, I knew what lay on the other side: Her side attacks. Her secret weapons. Her uncanny ability to find my weakest spots. But in the brief instant that I had peered over the barriers I could finally see what was finally there: an old woman, a wok for her armor, a knitting needle for her sword, getting a little crabby as she waited patiently for her daughter to invite her in.
He has always been politely indifferent. But what's the Chinese word that means indifferent because you can't see any differences?.
For all these years I kept my mouth closed so selfish desires would not fall out. And because I remained quiet for so long now my daughter does not hear me... All these years I kept my true nature hidden, running along like a small shadow so nobody could catch me. And because I moved so secretly now my daughter does not see me... We are lost, she and I, unseen and not seeing; unheard and not hearing, unknown by others.
When my daughter looks at me, she sees a small old lady. That is because she sees only with her outside eyes. She has no chuming, no inside knowing of things. If she had chuming, she would see a tiger lady. And she would have careful fear.
Even if I had expected it, even if I had known what I was going to do with my life, it would have knocked the wind out of me. When something that violent hits you, you can't help but lose your balance and fall. And after you pick yourself up, you realize you can't trust anybody to save you- not your husband, not your mother, not God. So what can you do to stop yourself from tilting and falling all over again?.
You can't stay in the dark for too long. Something inside you starts to fade, and you become like a starving person, crazy-hungry for light.
Why do you have to use me to show off? If you want to show off, then why don't you learn to play chess." - Ch. 5.
I was six when my mother taught me the art of invisible strength. It was a strategy for winning arguments, respect for others, and eventually thought neither of us knew it at the time, chess games... Come from the South, blow from the wind -- poom!-- North will follow. Strongest wind cannot be seen.
Yesterday my daughter said to me, 'My marriage is falling apart.' And now all she can do is watch it falling.
How I saw in her my own true nature. What was beneath my skin. Inside my bones... Even though I was young, I could see the pain of the flesh and the worth of the pain. This is how a daughter honors her mother. It is shou so deep it is in your bones. The pain of the flesh is nothing. The pain you must forget. Because sometimes that is the only way to remember what is in your bones. You must peel off your skin, and that of your mother, and her mother before her. Until there is nothing. No scar, no skin, no flesh.
My sisters and I stand, arms around each other, laughind and wiping the tears from each others eyes. The flash of the Polaroid goes off and my family hands me the snapshot. My sisters and I watch quietly together, eager to see what develops. Ghe grey-greensurface changes to the bright colors of our three images, sharpening and deepening all at once. And although we don't speak, I know we all see it: Together we look like our mother. Her same eyes, her same mouth, open in suprise to see, her long-cherished wish.
She would be quiet at first. Then she would say a word about something small, something she had noticed, and then another word, and another, each one flung out like a little piece of sand, one from this direction, another form behind, more and more, until his looks, his character, his soul would have eroded away ... I was afraid that some unseen speck of truth would fly into my eye, blur what I was seeing and transform him from the divine man I thought he was into someone quite mundane, mortally wounded with tiresome habits and irritating imperfections.
I saw a girl complaining that the pain of not being seen was unbearable... Now I have perfect understanding. I have already experienced the worst. After this, there is no worse possible thing.
I discovered that maybe it was fate all along, that faith was just an illusion that somehow you're in control.