Death from the West to the East

November 26, 2010
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“Come with me; America, you’ll love it. The taste of delicacies, the chic dresses, lavish homes. Come Soobin. Come with me.”

Thimble-laden fingers intricately weave numerous baskets as the roosters crowed weakly and the sun slowly cracked the Eastern sky. Bleak images rack her boggled mind as she reminisces of Xin-xin; his curvature, beady eyes, and sun-kissed skin made him an icy idol of the Chinese heat. Her clandestine paramour creates seductive meetings, afraid that the elders will discover their lusty encounters. You see, our chivalrous Soobin is Korean and Xin-xin is Chinese; if their love was ever to be, Xin-xin would have to smuggle Soobin out of Chinese territories and sail to America. Their situation was impossible, but a plan had concocted to make their lives plausible. As we continue with the gruesome yet epic tale of Soobin and Xin-xin, we fail to explain the crude details; instead, passages from Soobin’s diary are shown to explain her tale.

December 6, 1865 (1865? 12? 6?)

The snow has finally begun to palpitate the ground near the village; the children have been complaining of constant finger pain. Poor imbeciles! They are experiencing what Xin-xin calls ?? (frostbite). He speaks of hot chocolate, gloves, warm coats, and a hobby Americans consider fun: ??? ?? (snow-man building). My English has gotten better, he claims. My pronunciation skills are those of a toddler, but with more meetings, I know I can speak just like him. Unfortunately, the tedious business of coal calls him back to Pennsylvania so that he may make more ? (money). Xin- xin says that money is greed out there; it runs everyone’s life and makes every decision; he works for twelve hours a day with the remaining immigrants such as the Irish, Dutch, German, and Scandinavian men. His colleague, Mr. Heimlich, speaks to him of bratwurst and wiener schnitzel and other German treats and delicacies. Xin-xin (??? – ???) is eager to travel the world with Mr. Heimlich; traveling and exploring is truly his hobby. Well, tomorrow is my ?? (birthday). We will celebrate by preparing a laborious feast of rice balls, sour pork dumpling, fried noodles soup, and din-din woo for dessert. My heart aches for the next time I will encounter Xin-xin. Truly, I couldn’t give a care in the world for the festivities tomorrow, but I pretend to like a lot of what my parents do.

December 7, 1865 (1865? 12? 7?)

I am of age now to go to the market! Once girls in the village become 17, they are allowed the privilege to accompany their mothers and sisters to the market. For me, visiting the market is the most elating thing that has happened to me (after meeting Xin-xin, of course). Our village reeks of ‘boring.’ The succulent duck hangs from rusted street corner hooks, the spice barterer chants out bargains and prices for the variety of smells and tastes he sells. Colorful kimonos and sashes dot the humongous crowd, as my mother Chan-sook (? – ?) weaves us through the commotion and bustle. Eventually, we reach an alleyway packed with children where the beggars of the day conclude their work and bring together earnings; from duck’s feet to pigskin shreds, the children excite over the evening’s meal. There, we meet Bong-hwa (? – ???); Bong-hwa sells the moistest, most expensive, and most succulent pig legs on this side of the Himalayas. Villages for miles chant his name when asking for luck in cutlery and cooking! As all these confrontations occur, I concur what I will do when I next grapple upon Xin-xin. He will be so overwrought with disappointment that he will forget his melancholy mood for omitting me for so long. His voyage has made him extremely disheartened that he will crawl into my arms and peacefully fall asleep.

December 12, 1865 (1865? 12? 12?)

New Year’s is approaching very soon. Though the village is slightly penurious, rice paper lanterns with candles and papyrus paper signs are hung all throughout the area. Of course, huts give off odors of serious cookery; from stuffed butterfly dumplings to smoked chicken breast, you can smell the aromas wafting through the ??? (atmosphere). But, nowadays, the clandestine meetings between Xin-xin and I are the wholly thing I conceive about. Last midnight, he came to get me from the fields as I was taking the pigs out for feed. As usual, he swept me off my feet and took me to his mother, ? ? ? (Sang-hee’s), house. See, he lives with his mother, who is a widow. I mourn for Xin-xin’s father everyday; he was killed by an oxen plow 3 seasons ago. Despite the despondent feeling, can you believe Xin-xin got me a ????? (Christmas) present?! When we were in his corridor, he silently pulled out a petite, red box; inside was the most enchanting necklace you have ever seen. Immediately when I went home I placed it under my bamboo cot. Of course, my meddlesome sister irks around the hut when I am gone, so she wears my necklace out to play with her friends in the meadows. One day, she was running a race with another child and the necklace fell off in the vast green ocean; I will never find my first Christmas present. To add to the feeling of discomfort, Xin-xin must depart again and will not return until March. Can I wait until March without going insane?

January 15, 1866 (1866? 1? 15?)

Now all the festivities are over, and the quintessential life of picking and weaving has returned to haunt me. The elders came together last season to decide if the crops had been plentiful last season; because they were so successful, they plan to grow the same vegetables this season. I believe that my necklace aided in making the dirt fertile and healthy. Lately, Xin- xin has been troubling my mind. Has he forgotten me? Do you suppose that he has fallen for a blonde female in Pennsylvania? My stomach churns and moans when thoughts such as these enter my head. Last night after ?? (dinner), my mother took one look at my face and exclaimed that I had been infatuated by the demon love. Had she found out about my Chinese lover? Has she told ??? (father)? Oh, he will banish me to weaving until I marry! I cannot stand Korean customs any longer! I yearn to leave this d***ed forest and sail off to the land of riches and opportunities. Alas, my sorrow has prevailed my emotions and I cannot compose anymore. Xin-xin: does you still love me?

January 24, 1866 (1866? 1? 24?)

My visit to the market was rather merry and amusing. A traveling circus from the land of Rujikistan was there, performing boisterous yet skillful acts. From sword swallowing to walking on glass, the performers could do it all! After the commotion ended, the flame- blower came and called upon me. Dong-sul (?? ?) was his name. His striking features blew over the entire market as intriguing, stylish, unique. I knew for certain that Xin-xin’s muscular and tanned body reigned supreme over this street performer; my, was I utterly incorrect! Dong-sul invited me to dinner at a diner in the marketplace; my mother thought he could be an excellent suitor. Surprisingly, through all the blasphemy, I transgressed my relationship with Xin-xin! It was too late to decline the invitation… Specifically for this occasion, mother purchased me a new down-graded ??? (Mianfu-Han dynasty court dress). Xin-xin would’ve absolutely adored the spectacular hue and design of the mianfu. Well, it’s been so long that I’ve dropped his sense of style. I can’t even faintly remember his appearance. No, I don’t want to move on. Xin-xin and I are going to America next season. After this date, I must not forget the dream of America.

February 18, 1866 (1866? 2? 18?)

I fibbed to mother that I was going to the meadows. Truthfully, I was headed to Sang-hee’s house. After a long walk through the bamboo lumber, I reached embracing arms from my future ??? ?? (mother-in-law). Over bitter green tea and din-din-woo, small talk filled the chamber with laughter and giggles- but I wasn’t here for laughter nor giggles. I wanted to know if Xin-xin was doing fine; I needed reassurance, a note, a picture, a voice. Her voice cracked as she explained to me that he was doing fine. Why was she acting so peculiar? I was calmed, but still did not trust what I was being told. Again, I started chit-chat about my plans in America. Before I could explain to her about the delicious desserts I will eat, she burst into the conversation and told me that Xin-xin chose not to be with me any longer. WHAT? My expression froze as my brain cluttered with long nights of his love, his laughter, his presents, his chatter. All the sleepless nights I had given up for that man; all the men, including Dong-sul, that I rejected, all the nights I had risked! I disobeyed my parents for a good-for-nothing Chinese fool. He had become entangled with some American girl in Pennsylvania, no doubt. I cannot distinguish if she had truly said what she said because my head became foggy with thoughts. I quietly excused myself and headed for the kitchen. Spoons, dishes, tea cups would not do. As the lazy hag continued to sob on her fine silk sofa, I found exactly what I was peering for: an eyeball gauge, used for pigs and fish. Cleverly, I called her into the kitchen, pretending that I had tripped and fell and needed assistance. She shuffled over the linoleum floor and bent over to examine my ankles. Blood splattered in all directions as the mechanism entered her left eyeball, then her right. My hands shook with power as she fell to the floor wailing, moaning, screaming, (obviously not crying), and hurt with pain. I slowly encapsulated the tool from her eyes and shoved it down her throat. An attempt to motion or sound a plea arose, but traveled nowhere. After approximately twenty seconds, I knew she was done. I pounced around the house for her best silk sheets; using the most expensive ones, I mopped up the river of blood around her head and carefully positioned it on her frame. Lie in icy peace, Sang-hee. For all I now cared about, I was going to embrace my family more, engulf their customs, make up for my sins, and murder Xin-xin Lai.
February 20, 1866 (1866? 2? 20?)

As my kin continued to embrace life as the innocent farmers they were, I lived dully and sullenly. I participated in all there was, showed rejoicing actions, and took up the skill of weaving again. But in a crevice deep inside, my lusty sins and murderous plot curled up ravenously through my veins and into my blood. In my position, you can truly feel the evil seep through you; you are like a transparent hut and it is like soup. Thick soup which you cannot unveil because it is so heavy. The soup sticks to the walls, no matter how hard you scrub, scratch, tear, bite, and scowl. It sticks- like a sin. How could I have gone from an innocent, tiny little girl who admired the elderly task of cookery and farming to a sinister mind full of lethal weapons? I’ve left myself go because of a hellish boy like Xin-xin. His name tastes like bitter mung beans, a taste which is commonly repelled. I no longer look to a pleasantly lit future but now a gruesome and scary present.

March 6, 1866 (1866? 3? 6?)

Today is the day Xin-xin arrives from coal mining in America. Townsfolk claim he has brought his American wife for show and pleasure back to the hills of China. As he recollects old memories and pastimes, he will not sense the malignant and loathsome spirit approaching. When he returns to Sang-hee’s home to find her gone, his heart will turn weak. The comfort and loving she will suffice to give him cannot top mine, so he will push her aside and grieve beside his mother’s elderly figure. Quietly, I will sneak up behind the brat and suffocate her so tacitly that the mice in Hong Kong will not even hear her. Then, I will face Xin-xin. Oh, if you had my wrath entangled within your torso, you too would cackle with joy over the death of a lover! My mechanisms of injury include…..

My dear readers, have you been brave enough to suffice the tale of Soobin Oh? Well, an old acquaintance came by the house to find Sang- hee gauged, the blonde femme suffocated, and Xin-xin--. We cannot describe the heinous, scandalous, villainous, and grave actions that occurred. Rest assure though, he is gone. Soobin now works for the rice mill in Xioa-lan, never tied or uprooted to the three deaths at the house of Sang-lee. She reconnected with Dong-sul and has three of the most marvelous children a fairytale can procure. But when photography is invented around 1925 and a family portrait is taken, the bodies of each member resemble none other than the three. Xin-xin, the femme, and Sang-hee Lai. But of course, no one knows this… yet, how am I writing it to you now?

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jalsaied This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 2, 2010 at 7:43 pm


Sorry about the ?? marks in the article. Those were originally Chinese symbols that accentuated the words/ dates beside them. Please enjoy this piece! 

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