23. April 2013 · Comments Off on House on a Slope · Categories: D. 5 to 8 years · Tags:

We are in a house again, but only the downstairs.  The house belongs to a family who let us live downstairs because the war is going on too long.  There are more and more refugees and not enough houses.

The military barracks are at the lower part of the slope.  We have to walk down to our school through the gardens in the back.

There are five houses on our slope.  We are in the second house.  Japanese officers live next door, and our doctor’s family lives in the last house.  The aerodrome is down below.

There is a girl upstairs who is my age.   Her name is Nuyin.  She teaches me to toss into the air tiny cloth sacks filled with sand or rice.   When they are in the air, there are many ways to catch them and even more things you can do before they fall.  We play for hours on the landing.

Nuyin says her grandmother has bound feet.  I have seen women with tiny shoes, but I have never actually seen bound feet.

Nuyin says her grandmother maybe will show me her bound foot.  I am curious but also not sure.  Nuyin insists her grandmother loves to show her amazing ceremonial gowns and fans because she likes to remember her youth.  If she likes you, she will show you one foot.  Just don’t ask any questions.

Nuyin’s grandmother lifts jeweled ceremonial gowns, one more dazzling than another, from a trunk fragrant with camphor.  When those are put back, she asks her amah to bring tea.  It is almost as though we were playing tea party, but Nuyin and I are real guests eating almond cookies.

I had forgotten about her feet when Nuyin and her grandmother exchange glances.  She helps her grandmother untie the bindings.   Her foot is pale and small.  I think of a wounded bird.  I remember not to ask questions.  Nuyin helps tie back the bindings.

Her grandmother is so sweet and dignified that I want to kiss her.  I don’t do it because I know it would be presumptuous.  They are not like my relatives who kiss everyone coming and going.

Instead, I bow slightly and thank her for the visit.   She smiles and says come back again.



barracks2-8-2013 3-49-41 PM


Military barracks and slope leading up to our house

Garden s. Francisco2-8-2013 3-53-55 PM

S. Francisco garden

Toy sacks

Toy sacks – small enough to grab all five in one child’s hand.

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