A Reflection of My Past Life

November 9, 2009
It was left behind when I was not old enough to understand it, to miss it. The house with the aging staircase, the creaky floor as one lightly stepped over its surface, the deafening noise of family members yelling over each other even though they sat side by side, and how their laughter rang infinitely through the walls. These vignettes, of course, are not all exact. They are all also visions, reflections, images I get from flipping through the voluminous amount of photos of my early days.

I have no memories of these events, just faded glimpses of them in my dreams, wandering and fleeting endlessly through my mind, searching for shelter and for identity. I remember my mother telling me about the cold winter days of the Anhui seasons, how it was so bitter that your skin would form rosy circles on your cheeks and how you had to wear at least four layers of coats in order to stay warm. By comparison, the summer days, with their sweltering temperatures comparable to those of a humid southern day, could leave your clothes sticking to you like glue sticks to paper; that your sweat would have no where to go because your body was already covered in it. I have pictures like that: pictures of me in a white dress with a naive pose in the mid-June heat that could have become a heat wave; pictures of me in a blue-striped wool cap and a jacket ten times my size, fat drooping down both sides of my cheeks. There are also pictures of me, my mother, and my father together. There was one photo in particular where I was sitting on my father’s shoulders with my mother standing right beside him. It was a beautiful picture but unfortunately, my mother forgot to open her eyes. In these photos, the weather was nowhere to be seen.

Another image was from a time when we visited a zoo in Singapore. My parents had two parrots perched on their shoulders and one resting on my father’s index finger. The parrots my father had on his shoulder and finger were a small, fat green parrot with an orange beak and a blue-yellow parrot with a long tail and black beak. My mother had a fat, red-blue parrot that resembled a pompous, chubby, wig-wearing aristocrat; but a cute one nonetheless. I got to hold a white parrot in my arms, like a mother cradles her child. To be frank, I was frightened. Any child would be if they had to hold a parrot that had sharp talons and a beak that could bite you at any minute. But the bird was amicable. He was soft, like a silk pillow, and he did not do anything but purr in my arms. In the picture, he even appeared to have a smile on his face. I guess it’s what you call wishful thinking. It saddens me that he might have passed away by now.

Then there was the house- or to be more accurate- the apartment building. It was a building of generations, an edifice in which my grandparents had lived in since their newlywed years. There, each of their children had lived in, had been raised in, and had grown up in. There, each one of their grandchildren was taught the traditional value of family. I was the exception to the latter. As I was growing up, I was not able to enjoy the laughs of my cousins, the playful taunts of my aunts and uncles, and the constant doting of my grandparents. It was by fortuitous means that I got to see a glimpse of the building one last time before it was torn down the following year.

The walls had been covered with amateur drawings of my previous cousins; scribbles had engulfed the entire side of the kitchen fortress. A picture of a dog I had drawn hung in my grandmother’s bedroom. Looking back on that, it makes me want to break down and cry. A television and a radio, aged from their years of occupation, had rested in my grandpa’s break room. His room was the best for it led to a balcony overlooking the entire apartment complex. It’s not there anymore – the whole building is not there anymore. The school still is but the memories are surely gone. The scribbles and drawings, obliterated to little pieces, are now lying deep in the earth. All that is left are those timeless photos of those days when I could not remember. These images are not much, but as I look at them one last time, at their smiles, their laughing eyes, and their candid appearances, I feel like I am there again and that I have finally found my soul.





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AbigailWalton20 said...
May 10, 2012 at 10:51 pm
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Healing_Angel This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 1:52 am
Beautiful!
 
ning jing said...
Dec. 1, 2009 at 6:09 am
A wonderful essay! I like it!
 
hotohori said...
Nov. 21, 2009 at 1:52 am
I like this article!
 
pakman replied...
Nov. 21, 2009 at 10:02 pm
this is a really good article! great job!
 
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