A Dream, My very first love, 60 years ago.

I was holding a heavy bag of grocery walking along a quiet freeway. Not too many cars were driving by.  My bag seemed getting heavier and heavier. How I wished if there was some kind driver could stop by and offer me a ride.

Suddenly a familiar looking  gentleman appeared next by my side. “Mura, let me hold your bag.” he said.

“Mura!?”That was Johnny!?  60 years ago, the only one person who always call me Mura. He said he like to call me Mura,” There may be hundreds of Myra I may meet in my life. But Mura is the only one I love”.  I felt a little dizzy! I was confused!

I tried my very best to control myself not to hug him on an impulse. But could not help to shout aloud: “Oh! My good heavens! Johnny! Is that you? Where have you been all these years ?”

He looked at me calmly with a smile. Did not say a word as if we were together yesterday. Quietly,  he took the grocery bag away from my hands!

What a surprise! It WAS Johnny! My very first boyfriend when I was 22.  He looked just as handsome and friendly and clam as the days we were together!

He was quiet. Smiling. Did not answer my question.  I couldn’t think of anything else to say at that very moment. Even there were thousands of questions I wanted to ask him. But I didn’t know where and how to begin with. Just walking quietly with him.

I did not know how did we get into that house. There we were standing at a kitchen counter! Johnny  pull out a blue travelling bag from under the dining table and put it on the table. I noticed there was a white Pan Am logo on it. He un-zipped it and said to me,” Mura! Here are your groceries. I put a little something in the bag for you on your way home.”

“On my way home?” I said to myself.

” Yes! I’ll drive you home! Mura.” He said.

” Drive me home?” I got totally confused. He never drove……..

Johnny sat in the driver seat. It was a Van. Many other passengers were in the van before I got in. The only seat that was not taken was at the very end. So far away from Johnny.

I was disappointed  and  miserable.

How I wished if I could sit behind Johnny! There were thousands and millions of things I wanted to talk about. But there was only the bag of groceries bag with me, the bag Johnny gave me. I peeked into the bag. In addition to my groceries, I saw a tin box of cookies, which was one of my favorite. Some bottled water and the chocolate that I used to be crazy about!

I looked at Johnny’s back and wished to say thanks to him. But he was so far away and totally absorbed in driving.

Tears running down my cheeks…………..

My pillow was wet in the morning!

This was the only dream I ever had in 60 years after I stopped receiving Johnny’s letters.

We had dates! But totally differently from nowadays young people’s dating. We went to movies, we walked in the park, we went to the coffee bar. When there was no one around we held hands, we hugged, we kissed. Those were too much over the limits for me in the 60s in China.

For those, I felt sinful. I went to confession one day. Father Gregory, a Portuguese Jesuit was my spiritual consoler. I told him I have sinned. I have a boyfriend, we hugged and kissed. Father asked:”Then?”

“Then?……” I was surprised.

“Yes! Then what else did you do?” Father continued.

What else could we do? Would those be worse enough? I thought.

. “No!” I answered honestly.

“Those were OK! Those are not sinned. But just be aware those may lead you into sin. don’t overdo it. You should know when to stop! Otherwise, you will be fine!”

That was why I always said to Johnny: “OK! That’s for today. Let’s save the others for next time.” Sometimes we bumped into each other on the street, Johnny always said: “Don’t forget the ones we saved for the next time!” Loud and sound. That always embarrassed me no end and made me blushed!

We went to movies. When it’s empty after the show. Johnny always walked behind me and hold out his arms on each side of my soldiers to protect me from the jam-packed crowds.

When we sat in the park, he always spread out his handkerchief on the bench for me to sit.

If there was a  sudden shower when we were outdoors, he always took off his outer garment cover my head and shoulders.

Sometimes he bring me some of my favorite snacks

He read my mind. Do things for me before I said.

One weekend He did not come to see me. That night I received his express mail. He told me that day was his birthday. On his birthdays he usually not going anywhere except go to work. For us Chinese  always say: ” A child’s birthday was a mother’s suffering day.” At our birthdays we should give our mother some gift to thank her for bringing us to the world on her sufferings. If the mother died, we should close the door and think of her and make a self-examination. To see if we had done anything that disgraced our mother. We often hear people say that, but not too many people do the way as Johnny did. Even I myself. I was always brought my mother something she liked.

In short, I was totally fascinated. I wish someday we could get married. I’ll be a good wife and so proud and happy to be with him.   I was even imagining if we’ll have children, how would they look like!

Johnny went to another city for a new job. Working for Pan Am as an office employee. He wrote me a letter every day with express mail. Express mail usually delivered in the evenings in our area. Every evening was the happiest time for me to read his letter. Occasionally mail delivered at day time, my younger sister would pick it up running to me and say “Love letter! Love letter!” loudly to let everybody in the house know it!  We never said “love” to each other. For Chinese, we do not say “I love you!”. But from the concerns and attentiveness we show to each other, tells how much we loved each other. Johnny’s letters showed all of them.

After Johnny left two weeks or so, suddenly I stopped receiving any mail from Johnny. No matter what I wrote, it would like to through a rock into the ocean. There was no respond. Sometimes I thought the mailman didn’t drop the mail into the mailbox instead he through the mail over the fence. They did that sometimes! The mail could be scattered everywhere in the yard. Sometimes the mail may be landed into my Jasmine bush. Will not be seen days later. I pushed aside every branch of the jasmine to try my luck. But never was any! We had a dog “Lily” She was quite naughty, she may torn paper sometime. but there was no torn paper in the yard at all.  There was nothing I can do. You could imagine my feelings!

Johnny was disappeared!

4 years later I married to Peter. My Sweetheart.

One day I was visiting my parents with our 2 years old. I didn’t know how and where did he found a picture of me wearing a blue dress I made it myself.

“Mom, mom, is this you?”

“Yes! That was me!” I stared at the picture. It was taken almost 7 years ago before Johnny moved to the other city to take his new job. I bought two necklaces at the gift shop in our church. A small shield-like plate with a cross in the middle. I give the blue cross one to Johnny. He put the red one on my neck.  That day we passed by a studio. Johnny thought it would not be a bad idea if we take a picture. So as if we see each other every day. That was my idea too. We took two sets of pictures:  one with us together one of Johnny and one of me. Each get a set. But where were the others?

I asked my mother if I can see the other two.

“The other two?” My mother said. “I burned them along with all the letters he mailed to you” My mother said calmly.

“What?” I could not believe what I’ve heard.
“Yes!” My mother said quietly. ” And also  I wrote him told him don’t ever write you anymore. I could not allow my daughter to marry someone who has a brain tumor and become a young widow soon after the marriage.  All the letters he mailed later, no matter to you or to me, I burned them all. Because I know you so well. If you find out he would not live too long. you will propose to marry him right away.” …………………………………….

People say “if you dreamed of someone, it could happen that you had thought of that person the day before. I loved Johnny deeply but not thinking of him too often. Not the day before the dream.

Well, honestly,  I do think of him sometime. After all, he was the very first love in my life!

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The cat on the roof

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Our pet Lily, was a pretty smart and sentimental lady with a beautiful bush tail. It looked like a squirrel tail. When she walking it looked like a lady sweeping and dusting.

She  and Snow, my cat, were very good friends. When Lily was a puppy they slept together in the basket. Both of them could walked freely in and out the square hole that father cut for the Snow at the bottom of the door.

Lily grew so fast. Not long, only her head could squeeze through the hole. At daytime, Lily had no problem to do in and out the house. But after the door closed at night, Lily can only stick her head in the hole and whining. We have to open the door to let her in. As soon as the door opened, she would rush in and jump right into the basket where she always sleep with Snow. Her size was  a little too big for the little basket. My father and my two brothers build a dog house for her in the yard. But unexpected things happened. the very next morning, we found Snow was not in his basket. he was in the dog house. Ever since the dog house become “Dog and Cat House”!

One day, Snow left us to look for his new life and never came back. At the beginning. Lily was wondering all around the house to look for her buddy. She snuffed almost every single inch in and out of our home until there was not even a shadow of Snow could be found.  Whenever we mention Snow, Lily would jump up  looking around for Snow. she would walk  back slowly, sat down with her head laid on her front legs.

You can tell how smart Lily was. isn’t it? But she was not a smart mother!

Everybody was so happy that Lily had her very first baby puppy. The baby puppy was so tiny! I guess Lily took it as the same size as Snow. She used to put her head on Snow while sleep. One day my mother heard some weak squeaking came out from Lily’s house. She thought that was a mouse went into the doghouse until she found Lilly lade her head on top of that poor tiny creature.  Quickly my mother pulled the poor kitty out from Lily head.  Unfortunately, when the same thing happened again no body was around.

Lily was very sad. She couldn’t understand why my father took her baby away and never gave back to her.  She lost her appetite!

One day my baby brother found her a new born alley kitten. Lilly adopted it right away. She washed the new baby all over with her tongue and milked the hungry kitty. The picture was taken by my friend while they were visiting us one day. They thought the mother dog milking a baby kitten was such a sight they’ve never seen it before!

We noticed something different in Kitty as he was growing up. He could climbing up the tree but did know how to get down! Oftentimes we found him crying and trembling on the treetop, walk back and forth on the branch. Lily barking at him under the tree until my baby brother climb up and get him down!   One day, Kitty was crying on the roof of our house!  the tilt room was not like the tree branch. Kitty could not walk back and forth, his hair all sticking out, he rolled up  as a ball, cried the cry I had never heard before. The mother was barking and jumping!

The roof top was too high to reach. My baby brother had to run to the neighbor to borrow a ladder to get him down.

My mother said it was because Kitty had a dog mother, she couldn’t teacher Kitty as a cat did.

 

Mona Lisa

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I had never noticed that my eyebrows are any distinct from other people until one day…………………

That was almost 20 years ago. The Old Navy was newly opened in San Francisco, Ca. Our grandsons, Phil was 6 years old, and the younger one, Gabe  was about  one. We were wandering  around with the crowds in Old Navy. Window shopping! When we came to the third floor, Phil stopped at a  portraitist’s drawing stand. watching the portraitist drawing, he was just about to finished his piece for a lady. I peeked at the finishing picture, it looked very nice, looked just like that lady! I had never had a drew picture. Why not have one today? so I sat in the seat after that lady left.

I couldn’t see what the portraitist was drawing behind his stand, but I could see his arms were moving up and down, from left to right. Looked at me for a second and then went back working again.

After he worked for a few minutes, he stopped again. This time was not just a couple seconds he looked at me. He put his pencil in between his front teeth and stared at me quite puzzled.  Then he took the pencil out of his teeth, gave a strong knock on the drawing stand. With a mischievous smile and go back to work again. A few minutes later, he took the picture down from his drawing stand and handed it to me. It was me! I looked nice in it! I should say that was the best one I never had. I was very pleased with it. But……there was something there. I could not really tell. There was something in it!. As we were walking, Phil said: ” Nanny, let me see it.” I handed it to him. He looked at a picture , his little head slanting from left to right several times. Very displeased  he handed the picture back to me and said: “Granny! It doesn’t look you!” I was surprised to hear it!

“No? But I think it is very nice!” I banded down my back and showed the picture to Phil again.

“No! Granny! Look at here.” Phil’s little pointer pointed at the eyebrows. And said:”Look! It has eyebrows, but you don’t” His litter finger sliding  back and forth on my forehead where the eyebrow should be.

“What? Really?”

I turn to my daughter-in-law and said: “I’m going to use the lady’s room!”

There in the mirror, I saw me! Yes! Now I found that something unknown in that beautiful picture was my eyebrow. I do have some. But they were just too light and too thin! You have to look very close. Otherwise, You can hardly see!

That was why the poor portraitist was hard to decide what should he do about my eyebrows. He was smiling mischievously when he looked at me, it might because he thought “Wow! Here is the another Mona Lisa!”

Here is a copy of Mona Lisa’s picture at top of this page which I found from Google. Have you noticed the Mona Lisa had no eyebrows!

I’m so proud of myself to be another “Mona Lisa”!

This picture of mine was taken this morning.  Won’t agree with me?! Just a bit older!

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Ping-Pong Champion 

Thomas worked in the engineering department. Tall, smart, dark suntan skin, and had a beautiful voice. You can tell even when he was humming. Sometimes you can hear him humming in the shuttle bus; making the boring shuttle time shorter. Everyone knew him as “the humming Thomas “. He was not only a hummingbird,  but he also was a ping-pong champion! People said he won the championship in college.

At the one-hour lunch break, most of the time, Jasmine would finish her lunch quickly and rush to the ping-pong room!

There was only one ping-pong table in the room, however, to let everyone have a chance to play while they waited by standing against the wall, they play doubles. Jasmine was lucky to have Thomas to be her partner the very first time she picked up the ping-pong paddle. From then on Thomas became her partner. Since James was a ping-pong champion at college, they were always the winner even if Jasmine was not a good player at all! She was so happy to have a great player as her partner! She meant to say something to James sometimes, to thank him for being her partner, but she was always too involved in watching how people catch the ball and how to hit it back.  She wanted to learn more and to become a better ping-pong player.

Well, actually at the ping-pong room, it seemed there was not much time for the players to chat. Everyone was concentrating on watching the other players play, and to watch for who will be next. When it was their turn, they would watch where the ball goes!  Finally, when the bell rang, everybody rushed to each one’s office.

The office was located in the countryside away from the city where the employees lived. The shuttle buses would pick up everyone in the mornings and take them back to the city in the evenings.

It happened one morning, Thomas sat next to Jasmine on the shuttle.
“Good morning, Jasmine! My name is James.”
“Good morning! Thomas!” Jasmine felt it was unnecessary for James to introduce himself. Everybody knew who he is. But she was surprised how did her ping-pong partner learn her name? She had never told him. She did not realize “the rose” incident had made her name well known.

The conversation did not carry on that day.  Maybe it’s because the bus was too quiet!  It seems that everybody was still not quite awake. James usually talked cheerfully and humorously. But when he was sitting next to Jasmine, he just could not find any suitable word to begin the conversation!  Even himself could not understand why he becomes a person of few words. He had heard the story about how those roses had offended Jasmine. He admired her straightforwardness, but to offend her would be the very last thing he wanted in the world.

If Thomas could only realize that opportunity knocks only once, he would grab it by all means! He was transferred to another city before long.

After Thomas left, Jasmines felt sorry that she had lost a wonderful ping-pong partner. None in the ping-pong room could compare with him.

Jasmine was about to leave her job to take a new position offered to her as a teacher.

A farewell Chinese dinner was arranged for her. There were almost 30 people signed up for the dinner. They were from different departments.

To Jasmine’s surprise. She found there was a seat reserved for her at the dining table. Thomas sat next to her! On the other side, sat another young man whom Jasmine occasionally met at the shuttle stop.

During dinner, that evening, Jasmine’s plate was never empty. It was always piled up with all kinds of food offered by those two gentlemen who sat next to her. No matter what kind of food or if she liked it or not!

When it was time to post a photo, Thomas pushed his way out to get a place next to Jasmine. After the photo was taken, He said to Jasmine seriously, ” When you get the picture, don’t forget to ask for everyone’s autograph. Here is my address, I hope you will mail me the photo. I should have my name on it too!” Then he continued in a rather sad voice: ” I miss those good days at the ping-pong room! Don’t forget to mail me the photo. I promise to mail it back to you right away.”  He looked at Jasmine with a very different look filled with hope and longing.
But to Jasmine, she felt farewell! Sad! After today, She will only see Thomas in the photo with those good memories of the ping-pong time!
Thomas paused a little. Hopelessly he said: “Wish you good luck in your new job! I have to leave now to take the night train back! Don’t forget to mail me the photo.”
Reluctantly he walked out of the restaurant. Kept on looking back at Jasmine. Even all he could see was Jasmine’s back!

Many years later, sometimes what had happened at the farewell dinner encircled Jasmine’s heart when she looked at that picture. The people in the picture came alive as if they were in Harry Potter’s movie!  She forgot most of their names if she did not look at the autographs on the back of the photo.  But Thomas.  She never mailed that photo to the address that Thomas gave her. His name was printed on his face!
Actually, Jasmine never did ask for any autograph of anyone.  When the photo was given to her, the autographs were already there!

Christmas party

The last day before Christmas and New Year holidays, there was a big surprise party for all the employees in Jasmine’s office. When people got off the shuttle bus, they heard Christmas carols coming from the office. They thought: “Well! Tis the season!” But when they stepped into the office they thought they had stepped into the wrong room! It was a ballroom!  Decorated with all kinds of Christmas ornaments and a big Christmas tree in the corner standing cheerfully. No one ever told them there will be a party today. All they knew was each one of them should bring a gift to work today. There will be a gifts exchange at lunch break. If they knew there will be a party, they would wear their party clothes. But…..
The office manager and  supervisor stood under the Christmas tree with a big smile. Supervisor told them to put their gifts under the tree while there were already two wrapped gifts laid on the floor with many envelopes around them.

Jasmine ,like the others, found an empty seat and sat down after she put her gift down.
The supervisor came to the middle of the room announced to them all:  There will be boxed Christmas lunch at noon. Around 3 o’clock the gifts they put under the Christmas tree will be handed out. Before they get on the shuttle bus,  the manager will call their names and pass out the envelopes which they had seen under the tree. Those were their bonuses!

” Hurrah!” Exclaimed everyone as soon as they heard his last word.

Music was on!  First, Manger and supervisor invited the ladies to dance. When the supervisor came to invite Jasmine, he had a ruler in his hand. He said: “Jasmine, may I have the honor to dance with you?” Jasmine stood up to accept the invitation. She stared at the ruler in her supervisor’s hand could not figure out  what was the role of the ruler?

After Jasmine put her hand on the  supervisor’s shoulder, quietly he used the ruler measured a ruler long distance between he and Jasmine and said: ” Now, we dance!” Jasmine could not help but laugh! She recalled the incident of the roses! She remembered after the supervisor said: ” if lieutenant Donald comes back again….” she jumped up on her feet and almost roar like an angry lion. She must be looked  awful at that moment!

— to be continued —

Jasmines’ story

A. Jasmine

Jasmine, a newly college graduate, began her employment as young freshmen. She was quiet, youthful, and had soft and shiny hair. Black like obsidian, yet it curls naturally hence no need for her to perm. She loved to comb her hair, keeping it neat and tied it up in a ponytail that hangs behind her head. Yet she would always find a few strand of hair hanging loosely down the sides of her face as if it was on purpose.

Her attire was simple, not being picky about how she dress. She wore whatever her mother made for her. Whether it was a tad small, loose or tight, it didn’t matter to her for, in the end, she always trusted in her mother’s skill. The college she graduated from was not of coed studies, it was an all girls college, which provided little to no chances for the girls to get acquainted with the boys. With her quiet personality, people at the office where she worked at took her approach as a serious and diligent girl in both speech and manners.

Jasmine worked under the inventory control management section at a big engineering construction corporation. Their recent project was  planning and constructing a newer modernized airport facility. Many smaller contractor companies came in and out of the office in order to submit their list of materials required pertaining their part of the project.

During a coffee break, Jasmine seldom joined other girls conversation, because the topics of fashion and dresses and/or Prince Charming was never of interest. Rather, she would enjoy a freshly brewed cup of jasmine tea while catching up on articles in the daily newspaper. One day on a typical coffee break, Jasmine was focused in; so concentrated on double checking the inventory control request form that she did not sense anyone approaching. Making sure she would go back to work on time, she raised her head and the next thing she knew was someone handing her a bouquet of beautiful roses. There she saw Lieutenant Donald, a mere translator for the company, smiling at her saying

“Here Jasmine, this bouquet of roses is for you!”

To Jasmine, it was such a serious insult.

“To think of doing such act in front of everyone in the office, how could he do this to me? How embarrassing!”

Her face tinted a subtle red, not because she was blushing, but in fact, she was very angry. At that point, she could not refrain from lashing out and expressing her anger. Her “quiet demeanor and formal manners” suddenly came off track. Enraged, she grabs the bouquet out from the young man’s hands; slamming the beautiful bouquet and destroying it into pieces. Buds from stems, petals from buds, all laid at rest dead on the floor.

She sat down burying her head into her arms and began to sob until the supervisor came to her and said: ” Don’t cry! Jasmine, you should be very proud of yourself! First of all, I wonder where did Lieutenant Donald get those nice roses at this time of the year? Secondly, he must be admiring you for a while. Today he mustered up all his courage to show you how much he adored you! It’s OK! If you don’t like him just forget about the incident today. If you think he is OK, then when he comes back to you again……”  When Jasmine heard this, she jumped up on her feet about to shout out; but to her supervisor……., she swallowed everything and tried to cool herself down with some deep breathing.
After the incident, Jasmine went to the movie with her father one day.  Sometimes they whispered  to each other when the movie was on. What  a  coincidence!  Lieutenant Donald happened to sit  in front of them. He peeked back and saw Jasmine sitting with a gentleman and saw they were whispering with each other! At the end of the movie, as soon as the lights were on, Lieutenant Donald turned around and facing Jasmine. Pointed at her as if he had caught a child who  was being naughty! And said: ” Ah! Jasmine!”
Jasmine said with a lovely smile rather mischievously: “Dad, This is Lieutenant Donald, the translator in our office!”
Lieutenant Donald’s face turned red all the way down to his neck!
Jasmine hold her father’s arm proudly and happily leave that poor young guy behind!

—to be continued—