30. March 2013 · Comments Off on Accommodations · Categories: H. 9 to 10 years

The house is getting as crowded as the street outside.   Mostly it’s children who come in.  The girls fight one another to hold Irene.  Eventually, I do what my sister says.  I take the doll and put her in the dresser.  That is the last time I see her.

The crowd in our house thins out.  New people come in.  They carry in a round table top.  A base comes out from the stack of boards leaning on the sidewall.

All this time, Linda, my father’s “common law wife,” is giving the caterers a stream of instructions.  They set the table with cups, bowls, dishes, ceramic spoons and chopsticks.

They bring in pots of hot water, basins, towels and everything for washing up, including chamber pots with lids.  They set this up in the bedroom with the small cot.

My father comes home and disappears into the washing up room.  When he comes out, still in his suit, we are told to wash up.  The caterers return and replace everything in the washing up room.

Then the Chinese food comes in, all steaming hot.  The caterers set everything on the table, including pots of hot water for tea, and they leave.  The food is delicious, and there is more than enough for all of us.

There are eight of us.  Linda has three children.  Her boys are around my brother’s age, and her daughter is about seven.

After dinner, the caterers return.  They carry out everything including the leftovers.

In the washing up room, they replace everything.  They also bring in clean chamber pots with lids.  They put one in my father and Linda’s room.  My father and Linda have gone out after dinner.

As it gets dark, a single, smoky kerosene lamp is lit.  It sits in the front room on a little square table.   The caterers brought that too.

Several men come with five canvas fold-up beds.  They set them up on the street right outside the front door.

My brother explains that because we came here so suddenly, our father did not have time to buy a bed.  So, just for tonight, our sister will sleep indoors on Ah Nui’s cot.   Ah Nui and I will sleep on canvas beds on the street outside. The three boys, who usually sleep in the front room, will also sleep outside so that they can make sure nobody bothers us.

Comments closed.