Friday, April 02, 2010

The Pillow Book: 2. When my parents gave up their idols

2. When my parents gave up their idols

xxxxxWhen my parents gave up their idols for Christianity, they asked a priest from the nearest temple to send the household gods off. The altars, gold calligraphy on red sheet metal, were left at the base of a rain tree. The next day they were gone.
xxxxxThe altar table was not so easily removed. A dour work of dark pinewood, without any charm, it had stood in the living room for as long as I could remember. We tried changing its purpose, at one time storing my trophies and plaques behind its glass. They never looked right there. After it was finally hauled away, father had to paint over the soot left by burning years of incense.
xxxxxWhat to put in its place? My bookcase, from IKEA, sagged and leaned forward alarmingly. The corner was too small for the dining table, we rediscovered every New Year’s Eve when we sat together for my mother’s steamboat treat. Then there were no more reunion dinners when my sister and I moved to the States. My parents changed the round table for a rectangle and jabbed it into the space.
xxxxxNow the table holds boxes of tissue, biscuits soft enough for father’s gums, mother’s diabetes pills, and my white laptop when I visit during my summer break and wish to write.

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