Sunday, February 10, 2013

Felt for My Mother - Mrs. Li (李), a Manchu Across the Hall

Our neighbor across the hall, Mrs. Li (李) had a husband who was a Manchu and had changed his surname to Li. He was a long-time director for the oil institute.  Like my parents, he also graduated from Northwest University in Xi'an. One evening after dinner, his wife came to talk to my mom. She was crying to my mom and asked my mom’s advice. She had one daughter, the only child she had when she was 38 years old. She thought she couldn’t have children. This child was a joy for her and her husband. Unfortunately, they did not have any relatives around who could look after their daughter. So, they found a middle-aged woman who could not have children to look after their daughter to ensure undivided attention for their daughter. Eight years passed and now, she wanted her daughter back.
     Mrs. Li (李) finally did not have to go out for business anymore, while her daughter had started second grade already in her nanny’s neighborhood school. Now, Mrs. Li was trying to take her home and register her in the grammar school of the Oil Company. She had been trying so hard to make the transition but failed. Every time her nanny brought her home, her daughter was like a guest. She was well behaved. She looked at all the things her mom prepared for her. “That’s nice, mom,” her daughter said. Then she turned to her nanny and said, “Nanny, can we go home now!” Mrs. Li was crying so hard that she could not finish her sentence. She did not know what to do.
     My mom knew exactly she felt. She started crying also. They talked and talked; finally, Mrs. Li got up from her chair and said, “Do not expect your child to connect with you if you didn’t raise her.” I felt so sorry to my mother for all the troubles I used to give to her because I wanted go back to my grandma’s. When my grandma came to live with us, I still gave her trouble and my grandmother made her cry a few times because of me. I did not say anything, but in my mind, I started to compose a letter to my mom after I went back to college. I did send her a letter apologizing for all the trouble I had caused her, but I did not get any reply from her. She never mentioned the letter or the matter as if the letter was lost in space. I swore to myself that I would take care of my own children.
     My mom seemed changed after I went to college. I thought she was going to complain more since my other friends told me that menopause could really turn a good mother into a fussy one. My mom, on the other hand, became so quiet and she seemed to understand me much more even without words. She started to ask my opinion and respected me. I started to tell her more and more of my stories from college. We became friends. On the other hand, my father seemed to have more strong opinions of his own against mine.