When I went traveling eight years ago, Grandpa passed away. Since then, I have had a very comprehensive understanding of the unpredictability of life. This time before leaving, I go to say goodbye to Granny. I chat with her in my very poor Taiwanese. When she can't understand me, she will look at me with a puzzling but tender smile. John and Sharen sit by us, eyes glued to the TV like two big and carefree babies. After Mei-li finishes cooking dinner, she joins our conversation. We have a very calm yet joyful typhoon night.
Having to part endows me with new insight into the same life. Granny has a huge bottle of white gourd pickles. When her daughters come home for a visit, she'll drag her small and skinny body to move to the balcony. She stands on her toes, her hands fish for the pickles painstakingly. I offer to take over the plastic gloves and give her a hand. The pickles are soft like jelly. With my hand groping in the brown juice, it feels quite funny. Mom, who always fights to do this and that for me, is totally at ease with Granny's service. Adorable...
Granny still traveled abroad before her seventies. Now she can't even afford a short trip to Taipei. Once after I returned from France, she asked me what the buildings there looked like. It didn't dawn on me that Granny is actually very international until then. Even when we are watching a travel program introducing Dubai, she keeps asking where that is. It turns out that nobody knows how to say the Middle East in Taiwanese. Even Sharen, whose mother tongue is the dialect, can only think of a lame answer such as "Oh, it's just a foreign country..." I wonder what Granny sees when she sits on the stool under the indigo umbrella on the balcony.
I hope Granny sees more than our parting scenes, or just the school right across from the apartment. She always murmurs that because she didn't receive any education, she couldn't work. I go on saying to myself silently, thus you can't have a life of your own. I, on the other hand, have always been living my life, so my lesson is about seizing important people around me.
After watching a lot of TV, Sharen rises, ready to go home. I tease her, "You haven't even said anything to your mom! In the future when I go visit you, I'll do nothing and sit there watching TV." She smiles feeling embarrassed like a child. John can't help making fun of her as well. We don't profess in sweet talk, but we often tease one another in that way.
I know Granny doesn't like to take pictures, but I still take out my camera with hesitation before leaving. I ask her if I can take a photo with her. John, Sharen and Mei-li keep yelling for me to go ahead. Granny mumbles that she is not good-looking, but she is very beautiful especially when she miles.
Granny asks, "Are you going to the UK next week?" I reply, "Yes, I will miss you. When I miss you, I will look at your photo. Promise me to take good care of yourself."
In fact, if Granny raises her head when relaxing on the balcony, she'll see my sky...
PS: Yesterday I found a song titled "I'll Go to the UK Next Week" by Chen Chi-jen. I have the feeling that it is tailor-made for me.