Of a runaway turtle and the past

We arrived late at night in Tainan where we were greeted by my aunt and cousin in my grandfather’s house. No barking though– shao hei and my other cousin weren’t there yet. We did stumble onto the mystery of an empty little fishbowl on the coffee table. Apparently the turtle we found in the pond during Chinese New Year had escaped.

In the course of searching for it throughout the living room, it was named after a family member who tends to run off and get grubby in the process. We finally found it under the piano covered in dust. It hasn’t been released back into the pond for fear that it’ll eat the fish or the waterlilies.

The next day we returned to find another empty turtle bowl (this time it had been removed to a spot by the window on top of a fairly tall ancient stereo). The little book on top to keep it in was on the floor, and we found our little turtle under a cupboard on the opposite wall. We plopped it in a big basin next to the pond.

I got to frighten my cousin with my prowess at slicing mangoes (“Umm… No offense, but I can’t watch you do this.” He said as he edged out the door. I didn’t know that me wielding a knife was so awesome a sight mere mortals would cower, but there you go… One can be more powerful than one realizes, I guess.)

My other cousin and I ventured into the dark attic of the storage house and went searching for treasure. We found my grandfather’s old medical bag, still holding glass vials labeled for different vitamins. I unearthed an old Chinese Cookbook in English and Chinese (one dish is “Sauteed Brains”– pig brains to be exact). We found my uncle’s old high school lab notebook which was a work of art– his drawings and labels were detailed an immaculate. He got “B’s” though he was complimented on his drawings which looked as if they could go right into a textbook, his draftsmanship was so amazing. Then we found photos of him as a boy riding a horse.

I found my mother’s ID card for her exam and her college pins. She is really truly beautiful in a way that I did not inherit (I mean, even her ID photo looks gorgeous– mine look criminal).


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Free Rice

June 2007
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