14. The Ugly Baby Deity Longevity

About a year later after they married,  Yu-Wen happened to be in favor of sour food. She became lazy and easy to get tired when doing her daily housework. The doctor announced that Yu Wen was pregnant!

What a great and joyful news for the Ho family! Dz Yun’s parents were expecting their very first born grandchild! Dz Yun’s father mailed two sets of books to his daughter-in-law:  “Fetation” and ” How to nourishing and bringing up a baby”. These two sets of books not only brought Yu Wen love they also brought new knowledge that all she needed. Without these books, Yu-Wen would never know what should she do to bring up her very first baby.

Before Yu Wen married, her father was teasing her and said:”If you married Dz Yun. you should have many children!”

“Why?” Yu Wen’s father baffled her.

     “My foolish child! Don’t you see, I’m a Mongolian, your mother is a Manchurian and your husband-to-be is a Han. There are five big races in China: Hans, Manchus, Mongolians, Huis, and Tibetans. There will be three races in your family. It was said the second generations of this kind of families, should be very bright!”

Now it’s really going to be happening! Yu-Wen was worried and scared. No adults around her. Nowhere to get Won Ma. Whom should she go for help?  From the books that her father-in-law sent her, Yu-Wen found all her answers.

It could be because this was the first pregnancy for Yu Wen. Without any experience, no advice. She only carried the fetus less than seven months.  The premature baby was thin and tiny! Not ready to be dropped into the world. She had a head as a shrank deity of longevity. But much older!  On her baldhead and over her face there were full of wrinkles.  Her fingers and toes were so skinny and they looked awfully long. Yu-Wen couldn’t be sure whether there were five or fewer fingers or toes on each hand and foot. Many times when nobody was around she would be picked up one tiny hand or foot to count over and over again.

Mrs. Lyan heard that her daughter just had a pregnancy baby.  She rushed to the hospital to see them. When she saw such an ugly old deity of longevity granddaughter, Mrs. Lyan was very disappointed.  She suggested to Yu Wen:

“How about exchange a better-looking one? Today on my way here at the Nursery, I saw an abandoned baby girl as old as this ugly being. The nurse said her mother was a student at Pei-Jing University who ran away a few days later after the baby was born. That baby girl I saw, has beautiful black hair, big eyes, and a small mouth. She’ll become a beauty someday. Anyway, that’s an unwanted child, why don’t you exchange them?” Mrs. Lyan said seriously.

Yu-Wen was so frightened.  No matter how ugly the baby was, that was her very own flesh and blood. That was her daughter!

Ever since that moment she heard what her mother had said, She was so scared!  She would never let the baby out of her sight.  She was afraid that her mother may stealthily exchange her baby.

Dz Yun named their first born girl You Wen to honor his sweetheart. You Wen means Yu Wen Junior!

You Wen, this a premature baby. She was unusually small! At home, everyone called her Syau Wen as a nickname,  which means “Little Tiny Wen”.

Syau Wen was born on a summer day in 1963.  The weather was awfully hot. But Syau Wen’s body temperature was always low. There was no incubator at those days. From ” How to Nourishing and Bringing Up A Baby” Yu Wen learned how to keep her tiny baby warm and safe.

She put lots of unused premature bab on a piece of wood board. Rapped up with a new clean cloth. Before Yu Wen bundled Syau Wen up with a blanket, she placed Syau Wen in between of two layers of unused cotton, then put the bundle on the rapped board.  The bundle was secured on the board,

  • Unused cotton* is warmer than the used one. Besides it’s clean, no harmful germs.

Actually to put Syau Wen on a piece of board was not only could keep her warm, it kept her safe in one piece. Syau Wen was born before she was fully grown. Her bones and skeleton were not well enough connected yet. It seemed if there is just the slightest shake could cause the bones scattered! When she was on the board she will not be shaken at all.

This poor little girl didn’t even know how to suck! Each time when it was time to feed her, Yu-Wen had to put some milk into an eye drop suction tube. Then open her baby’s mouth to drop one drop of milk at a time. Waited until that one drop was completed swallowed. Then drop the next drop. If accidentally dropped two drops into Syau Wen’s mouth, it could chock Syau Wen and she would throw up all the milk she had swallowed. All the hard work was in vain. She had to start from the beginning again.

From no experience at all only based on those two sets of books, Yu-Wen made it. She and Syau Wen went through the hottest days in summer and bed hygienic condition. Even the doctors would not sure that a baby like Syau Wen could be survived. Syau Wen kept on growing safely. It was a miracle to Yu Wen. Her heart was filled with thanksgiving to heaven and the people around her.  On top of all the worried was her baby could be exchanged by her mother. Many timed she woke up at midnight to check and make sure if her “tiny old deity of longevity” was OK!

–to be continued.

  1. Smallpox vaccine and The  Deadly Enteritis–  is on the way
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13. Garlic and Steamed bun

Dz Yun got a job as a teacher before they married. After his honeymoon, he went back to work.  One day, Yu-Wen++ at home alone. Sitting in the wicker chair enjoying the embroidered Phoenix and the peony on the window light pink curtain. She appreciated their harmonious colors and the exquisite needlework very much.

“That’s right! I’m going to buy some cloth with the same color as the curtain. I’ll make a tablecloth and embroider the Phoenix and peony on it.”  She looked around the room. Smiled from the bottom of her heart. Her new home was not big. A small living room and a small bedroom about the same size. Two wicker chairs with a small tea table in between placed next to the only window in the living room. An enamel inlay vase with roses in it sat on the tea table. Yu-Wen made herself a cup of jasmine tea sat next to it.  Enjoying the fragrance of the jasmine tea and the sweetness of the roses. Yu Wen ‘s heart was filled with sweet warmness. This is her home! The home of Dz Yun and hers.

Suddenly there was some knocking on the door.  Yu-Wen walked to the door and saw a stranger stood in the doorway.  And said: “Please, may I ask is Mrs. Ho home?”

Yu-Wen heard that he was asking for “Mrs. Ho”. She thought: “My mother-in-law is at Ho-Nan. It is so far away from here. Why is this young man asking for her?” She was just about to say: “Mrs. Ho doesn’t live here.” Then she realized she is “the” Mrs. Ho!

That stranger told Yu Wen that he is coming to collect the window curtains. Today is the due day of the one month rent. What a surprise! Those beautiful window curtains were rented!?

While Yu Wen was watching the stranger taking those beautiful curtains down the windows, optimistic Yu Wen thought:”Good! It saved all my trouble to look for the right kind of cloth for a tablecloth. And it will save me money too! Without window curtains, the room looks brighter.”

While she was thinking about what had just happened, Yu-Wen laughed at herself. She could never imagine that window curtains can be rented. Is there anything else rented in this room? The world full of all kinds of business. All you need is hard working, you can always make a living.  You would never be starved.

At the beginning of Yu Wen’s married life, she didn’t know how to cook. All she knew was to make dumplings. Back home, at each Chinese New Year Eve all the women in the household, old or young, should go to the kitchen to help to make dumplings. Dumpling is symbolic the shoe-shaped gold. Women were helping the family to make money for the coming new year!  From making the dough,  preparing the stuffing for the dumplings, to roll out the dumpling wrappers with a small roller, rape the stuffing with the dough rappers and boil them. At her new home, you would see dumplings on the table almost every day!   When Dz Yun was teaching at the school, Yu-Wen usually bought some steamed buns(with no stuffing) for her lunch. She smashed the garlic mixed them with salt and sesame oil. She tore the buns into small pieces. One by one she dipped them into the smashed garlic and eat.  They were very tasty. She wondered why didn’t she ever ate at like this back at her home. The smashed garlic became the main dish on their table every day!  Yu-Wen never thought that garlic would play a very important role in saving her life. The garlic cured her Tuberculosis.

It was so many years later, Yu-wen had non-stopping coughing. She was worried that her Tuberculosis was back. After the X-Ray, the doctor told Yu Wen her coughing was because of bronchitis. And also the doctor found some calcified spots on her lungs. He asked if Yu Wen had Tuberculosis in the past? He was interested to know what kind of medication did she take? The doctor’s questions reminded her that was the garlic which saved her life.

To be continued- – -14. The Ugly Baby Deity Longevity– is on the way.


 

12. The Marriage

Now the whole Lyan’s residence was decorated for the big event. Joy mood everywhere. Everyone was excited about this coming up the wedding for the only daughter of the Lyan’s.

But Yu Wen was suffering from cognitive dissonance. She was very sick. Her head was stuffed with cotton. Dreaming day and night. In her vision, everything was like a shadow. Indistinctly her father touched her forehead.  She saw Dz Yun’s face was flushed with excitement. Wong Ma’s worried face……..

Seemingly Yu Wen was watching a show. The actors were running on and off the stage. An instant later she was on the stage. Like a puppet, Wong Ma picked her up from the chair and hold her arm up to let the tailor measure her for her wedding gown.  She wasn’t sure whether everything truly happened or not.

When the time for Yu Wen was about to say farewell to her parents, she kneeled down on her knees. She saw her father’s red eyes. Her mother’s long face still looked the same as she saw lately.

Dimly Yu Wen was embraced. Who embraced her? Then someone assisted her into the wedding car. Everything she was familiar with began to withdraw. The gate of her home closed her car and disappeared. Tears running down her cheeks.

“Wong Ma! Wong Ma?” she called out half dreamingly.”Where is Woman Ma?” Yu Wen was looking for the one who loved her so dearly.

Someone said in her ears: “My lady, Madam Lyan sent Wong Ma to work in the kitchen from now on.  Actually, Madam Lyan was going to dismiss Wong Ma. She said since you are married, Wong Ma is no longer needed in this household. But Master Lyan remember all the good care that Wong Ma have had with you. He kept her working in the kitchen.” Speechlessly with a broken heart, Yu Wen fell back into the set. Her vision got more blurred.

The time was frozen and went backward in the car.

Dimly Yu Wen saw herself was playing in the courtyard with Wong Ma, but the everything she saw seemed so far away. Then the vision changed, she saw people in and out her room, all of a sudden she heard some uproar laughter and people fell down on the floor. These people were trying to pick up a big trunk from the floor. They all knew that Yu Wen was the only daughter of the Lyan’s.  Her dowries must be rich and valuable. This trunk should very heave and filled-up with jewelers, antiques, and thousands of pieces of silver coins. They picked up the trunk with all their strength. Up the trunk flew into the air! They couldn’t keep their balance and fell down to the floor. First was shocked with surprise. Then they laughed.  They would never believe that there were only some clothes that Yu Wen’s wears every day and a cloth brush.

Then the time flew back to the night before the marriage:

That night was so quiet. Yu Wen was sitting next to the table absent-mindedly. She could hear her own heavy breathing and her coughs. This was the last night at home for Yu Wen. When will she be back? ………………….

Wong Ma stood next to Yu Wen, patting on her back. Trying to ease off her lady’s coughs. Wong Ma’s tears were flowing in her eyes. This lady is with her ever since she was a baby. She breastfed her until she was almost two years old. She taught her to say “Ma”, “pa”. She watched her from crawling to stepped out her first baby step. She comforted Yu Wen when she had some hard times. She even dressed Yu Wen every morning until now. But after tomorrow, the girl she took as her very own daughter will be departed from her forever………………

Suddenly the door opened. In came Mrs. Lyan assisting with her maid. Yu Wen stood up right away. Walking wobblingly towards her mother. She poured some tea into a cup and handed to her mother with both hands. She was so touched that her mother could come in to see her the night before she left home. Her mother forgave her!

 

Mrs. Lyan accepted the tea from Yu Wen’s hands and sipped a little, She said in a cold and calm voice:”En! The tea is cold!’ Then she said with her eyes looking in the air:”Last night I was playing mahjong with some friends. Unfortunately, I  lost all my money. I don’t want to upset your father. Could I borrow some of your dowries to pay back the debts? I know that your father gave you lots of expensive jewelers and thousands of pieces of silver coins. Maybe with your dowries, I can get some good luck from the happiness of your wedding, so that I may win back what I’ve lost. But I’ll pay you back later.”

Mrs. Lyan didn’t wait for an answer, she told her maid to open that big trunk and took all the jewelers, antiques and the money.

Wong Ma couldn’t keep quiet any longer. She kneeled down on her knees and cried out:”Please! madam, please! Leave some for your daughter. Please! You took everything away from my poor lady, what would it be for her future.” Yu Wen stood there without any word or any tears.

Mrs. Lyan did not pay any attention to Wong Ma. Proudly she walked out of the room with her head up.

Thus how Yu Wen stepped into her married life with only some used daily clothes and a brush. A brand new life awaits her.

Mrs. Lyan had never ever mentioned about anything that she’d said that night. Yu Wen never mentioned to her father about what had happened the night before her wedding.  There was never had anything special happened that night.

That brush was a very good one. It had traveled with Yu Wen so many years from places to places. Even till forty years later, only the wood handle that holds the hair looking old and lost its brilliance.  But it didn’t lose any of its hair.

To be continued.

—Chapter 13. Garlic and steamed bun– is on the way—-

 

 

11. The Engagement

 

Since Mr. Lyan promised the marriage, D z Yun started to prepare for the engagement.

The engagement was very different from nowadays.

First of all, De Yun must have a matchmaker to present his engagement proposal.

He asked Uncle Bu to be the matchmaker to go to the Lyan’s residence to proposed the engagement for him. Uncle Bu was a close friend of Mr. Lyan. He visited Mr. Lyan frequently. At the Lyan’s, Uncle Bu acquainted with Dz Yun. He was of the opinion that Dz Yun was an honest and gentle boy. He understood  Dz Yun and Yu-Wen loved each other. He was willing to be the matchmaker.

The Matchmaker played a crucial role in those days. Without a matchmaker, there would no marriage.

Only for preparing the engagement there were three steps:

Step 1: For the boy’s side —  he should have a matchmaker who should know both persons well and willing to be involved with this engagement.

Step 2: First of all, the matchmaker should bring a piece of red paper with the boy’s birthday and eight characters of a horoscope to the girl’s parents and an engagement ring. The girl’s parents will take boy’s birthday and eight characters to a fortuneteller to be checked to see if this boy’s date of birth and eight characters of a horoscope would match with their daughter’s. If there is no problem and also they think this boy may be an ideal son-in-law to be, they would accept the ring and the red paper.  In return, they would give their daughter’s birth date and eight characters of a horoscope to the matchmaker to bring to the boy’s parents. The boy’s parents will do the same as well.

.     Step 3:  After everything was OK, the matchmaker would prepare two pieces of formal “Big Dragon and Phoenix Card” for each party. Those Cards carries both boy and girl’s birth dates and eight horoscopes. The one for the girl’ parents was printed with a pair of Phoenix on the very right side of the card.   The one for the boy’s parents was printed with a pair of Dragon on the left side of the card.  These “Big Dragon and Phoenix Cards” were really big! They were about one foot long and three feet wide solid red silk cloth framed with gold thread.

Until both cards were accepted,  the marriage ceremony is awaiting!  By now, if any of the two party refused to accept the big red card, the engagement is canceled. There will be no wedding!

Yu-Wen valued the Small Card and the Big Dragon and Phoenix Card so much. Because of the war, her family moved from place to place. The lost many valuables but these two cards always with her. Until they settled down in Taiwan, She hung them on the wall in her bedroom by her bedside. Along with her mother-in-law’s portrait. The person who loved her so dearly!

Small Dragon and Phoneix Card

Big Dragon and Phoneix Card

 

–To be continued–

12. The Marriage

is on the way