1000 a Day – Day 5

This entry was not only late in the first place, but it’s even later in showing up on the blog because it’s being written offline from Hong Kong. As I had mentioned earlier, I had thought that intermittent internet may be an issue I’d face, though I didn’t expect to. Perhaps I jinxed myself, but wireless is neither fast nor free at the hotel we’re staying in, and neither are the beds soft, and though the water cube shower has fancy shower heads installed along the vertical way, we discerned no way of activating them. In short, there are issues, but it’s still quite good! Perhaps the internet issue is the most vexing as there’s free internet in the subway stations, but I digress. The point is, this post was, and still is, late. Day 6 and Day 7 will be “late” as well in that they’ll also be written offline. I will note if they’re actually also late in the post. Now, onwards.

Memories of my maid:

My grandparents were already very old when I was very young. These would be my father’s parents. I lived with them, my great grandmother (who was even older), and their live in maid. Being old, it meant that they were unable to really pay that much attention to me or to take care of me, so that task fell to the maid. I remember playing cards with her in my grandparent’s bedroom when young. We would sit at the piano, on the bench with the piano’s lid down and we would use that clear space to play. I don’t remember what the game was, but I remember that the face cards were the most important. I was tired of losing, or tired of how difficult it was to win because I doubt very much that the maid actually tried very hard to beat a six year old at cards, and so I decided for one round that I would just give myself all the face cards so as to assure my victory. I was so proud of myself, so impressed that I had come up with such a brilliant solution to my problem. I told the maid what I intended to do with a big smile on my face, and dealt myself all the face cards then handed her the rest, still beaming. She smiled at me, at first, but as we began playing, her smile faded. As I kept winning hand after hand, she just kept looking more and more sad. I couldn’t understand why at first, but then I realized, I knew, it was my fault, that it was because of me. I kept playing but my heart no longer was in it, and I was instead wracked with guilt over having cheated my way into winning, having cheated her. We finished playing through the stack of cards that we both had and the round, she with that sad look on her face, I completely over run with guilt. When we finished, we didn’t play another round. Now, I realize that just as she couldn’t possibly having been trying her hardest to beat a six year old at cards, she also couldn’t possibly have been that sad or depressed or affected at having been cheated at cards by a six year old; whatever reason she had for looking sad, though terribly coincidental in its timing, couldn’t possibly have actually been because of me. At least I hope.

The maid lived in a converted hallway in my grandparent’s apartment. It was between the kitchen and the bedrooms. It must have been much wider at some point but half of it had been built up into what at that point held the bed on the bottom and storage shelves on top. She used a curtain on either side of the space to give herself some privacy. The space nowadays is simply used as storage, with the bed long gone and converted into more shelves; my grandmother uses it to house her ever increasing collection of books. I remember always thinking of the space as some very mysterious place, one that only the maid ever enters and into which I only ever get glimpses as she quickly pulls the curtain back whenever she goes in. I wasn’t allowed in, and neither was anyone else, so I always wondered what kind of things she had in there, what secrets she hid. In the glimpses that I did have, I remember seeing books with folded covers, lots of cassette tapes, and women’s bras and underwear, though I didn’t know what those were at the time. I remember the speed with which the maid would exit the bathroom, having finished taking a shower, a towel wrapped around her body, and duck beneath the curtain to disappear behind.

When I was young, China was under a decently strict rationing system. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that each household was allowed one egg a day, to do with as we like. I think we were also allowed one tablespoon of cooking oil a day, and so recycled whatever we could out of the bottom of pots and pans after cooking with it once for use another day. The egg though, was always given to me. I remember that I liked it soft boiled the best, and that every day the maid would cook it for me just the way I liked it, that I’d crack the top open with a spoon, and that I’d first tilt my head back and drink the soft yolk and white first before digging in. Unfortunately, nowadays I have no soft boiled egg making skills, though I still hold out hope. There are a couple of problems with this memory, seeing as I was at my school every day for breakfast except Sundays. Perhaps this meant that every Sunday, and only on Sundays, the egg was for me, or that we were only allowed one egg per week and only I got to eat it on Sundays, with it having been saved all week. Either way though, I’ve always appreciated what that soft boiled egg meant, though I didn’t know it at the time.

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Comments

emily | March 19th, 2010 

I’m really enjoying reading these memories posts. Though our childhoods were very different I particularly identify with the parts where you swear you remember things one way but based on the facts that couldn’t be. I have several “memories” like that too and enjoy you sort of trying to piece things together and make sense of them as you write. :)

sean | March 19th, 2010 

Ah so you enjoy my confusion do you eh? ;) It is fun trying to sort out though, and I’m glad you like reading these. I’ve not yet identified any new memories though as I’d hoped I’d be able to. Ah well. I do wonder how long I can keep these up though; blogging everyday kind of sucks in a way! Miss you lots! I’ll try to give you a call sometime soon hopefully!

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