The wind violently brushed through the branches of the trees which crashed against the edge of her bedroom window. It hadn't yet started to rain, but the clouds had begun to cluster turning the afternoon sky into a gloomy grey. The air was moist and the scent of rain paraded through the air. The dark and gloomy weather seemed to reflect her mood. She had somehow mustered the strength to rise today. She had mustered the strength to put on her mask of a smile, through the tears. She had mustered the strength to shower and dress herself, and as a bonus she socialized, all while considering it to be an accomplishment of the highest degree considering she hadn't done any of these things in a matter of days. She stood at the doorway of her room, frozen, and stared out of the half open window that she had left the crowd to close. The curtains flowed into the room with the wind. Pieces of the branches and bits of the leaves from the tree that banged against the window, left a debris scattered below the window ledge. Through the window, in the distance she could see the marigold flowers that seemingly mocked the mutual feeling of despair that she shared with the weather. She stared at the marigold flowers in the distance and they angered her. Their bright and cheerful petals stared back at her through the approach of a storm and they screamed and laughed the name of her dead lover as they whimsically swayed back and forth and side to side in the wind.
The Chinese Family That Was
It was unexpected when my mother met my step father. I was only 3 years old. I didn't understand societal views of race at the time but I knew that if this man married my mother, I would be different from everyone else. He was a Chinese man from Hong Kong that had met my mother, an Indian woman, at a party. I didn't know much about my biological father, I was so young when my parents split up, just that I had taken his complexion in my parents creation of me, he was a African man, and that he lived in Cameroon. I lived with my mother and my sister, and so ultimately I lived with my step father, the china man. It wasn't easy at first. I was a mixed black girl with an Indian mother and a Chinese father. In the beginning I didn't like being different from my friends who all had parents that looked like them until I had gotten older and had become assimilated into the Chinese culture. His family had become my family, and my mother was not close to her family so in turn, they became hers as well. My life is filled with memories of being a Chinese girl, despite not actually being one. My grand father (ye-ye) and grandmother (ma-ma) were the only grandparents I have ever known and they had come to visit us in America bringing along with them their other children, 3 sons, their wives and their grand children when I was 7. It was exciting to have so many uncles and cousins and every time we would come together it was an elaborate occasion. The feasts were grand and we would travel far (or what seemed like it was far as a child) to go to authentic Cantonese restaurants. In addition, there was extended family that lived in Virginia and we would spend Christmas, Thanksgiving and Chinese New Years with them every year. My parents would visit my ye-ye and ma-ma every fall in China and they would always come back with Chinese teas along with Chinese silk dresses and bags. I felt beautiful wearing such unique, expensive and beautiful things that were made especially for me. My parents would come back from visiting China and would tell us stories of the adventures they had in Hong Kong. My ye-ye owned some sort of paper company and they were very wealthy so the stories they told seemed like an exotic dream. They would show my sister and I pictures of the Great Wall and the star ferry, The 10,000 Buddhas Monestary and so many more magical places that I would fall asleep dreaming of these exploring the mystical treasures of Hong Kong. My sister and I longed to visit and every year my parents would go it would seem like torture that we couldn't go with them. Years past as this tradition with my parents traveling to China occurred then one day they returned from their trip with exciting news. My ye-ye was getting old, and they had decided to take the entire family to Hong Kong for his 100th birthday in the year 2000. I didn't know why but I began to cry. I had this overwhelming feeling that it for some reason wouldn't happen. My mother and father reassured me. The family trip was only a few years away, what could go wrong? My mother had gotten cancer that year and the next year would be a hardship on our family. I had noticed my mother and father arguing a lot, then sleeping in different bed rooms. It never occurred to me that they would split up. He had been my father for more than 20 years. He was my father and I was his daughter. The blood at this point meant nothing to me. I had grown up dreaming of singing at my cousin's weddings and having a big Chinese wedding myself. I didn't realize the harsh reality that we were never truly their family. One by one, we started getting uninvited to events. My uncles and aunts as well as my father had stopped returning my phone calls. I was so confused, I made up excuses for why they had abandoned my sister and I. This was the only family I had ever known and all of a sudden they were acting like we were just random people they had to cut ties with. I didn't stop being angry until years later, in 2002 when I had found out my ma-ma was very sick with Alzheimer's, had died and we were not invited to the funeral. My ye-ye was very sick and on his deathbed. I had decided I was going to my step father's to confront him and ask him why he had stopped calling. I spent all afternoon making his favorite muffins and went over on father's day. I could tell by his expression when he answered the door that he was sad. He was hesitant to let me in. He sat me down and told me he loved me. He told me he missed me and that I was his favorite girl. Then he told me it would be easier if I would forget him and move on. I was heart broken. I wept hurricanes of tears as I begged him to reconsider. He handed me some tissues and kindly asked me to leave. Of course it is ridiculous to think I could forget about my family that I had grown up with and grown to love. The Chinese culture was so embedded in me at this point, that I was lost. After years of therapy and healing I realize that the easiest thing to do was not to forget my family or my up bringing. To do that would be to ignore a large piece of myself. Instead I will embrace the time we had together and learn more about the culture of the people I once called my family. It was and still is a dream to visit Hong Kong and to explore what I dreamt about as a child and finally get some closure.