Author: Shirley Chen
The hot Taiwan wind rushed through my hair as a train of sweat formed around my hairline. Poised in action, I glared down menacingly at my younger brother and swung my weapon. “Clunk!” The sound of two bamboo swords clashing in midair rang through the forest. “Hmm… You’re pretty good,” I nodded in approval, “but that wax apple is mine!” Ready for my next attack, my brother grinned displaying a row of crooked white teeth.
Suddenly, a short woman clad in blinding pink, grasping a huge shovel, jumped from the bushes, interrupting the battle. “Ah! Shirley! Edward!” my mother scolded, “You’re supposed to be helping your grandpa out with the farm not picking a fight with each other!” Not wishing to anger my mother more, I quickly dropped the bamboo sword and proceeded to dig out more bamboo shoots for dinner.
The blazing sun burned my back as I dug, and I remembered all the moments that had happened these past few weeks: my disappointment with the Taiko drum game every time I failed to hit the right note, my unhappiness as I walked through the night markets unable to get that one item I wanted, my sadness at the crane machines as I desperately tried to capture a cute stuffed animal, and my disgust at being embraced with sloppy kisses by overly joyful relatives.
However, by going to Taiwan, I had got a glimpse of what my mother’s teenage life had been like; all those stories she had told me sprung to life as I visited the areas my mother spent her childhood at. She told me how her five other siblings and she didn’t have the comforts of computers or television, but instead found enjoyment in simple games like battling with overgrown bamboo. They weren’t a rich family, and a wax apple was a rare, delicious treat. Being the oldest of her family, she had to help her parents with the company, and take care of the little ones. Staring down at the stubborn bamboo shoots that refused to be pulled out, I was amazed at how she had the time to even concentrate on her studies while helping her father farm the land.
As I realized the hardships my mother had to overcome in her life, I reflected back on my own life, and questioned myself… how many times have I complained about doing a simple chore such as washing the dishes or not getting a specific “hot” item? How many times have I been ungrateful to my parents for pushing me in studies or making me eat that last grain of rice? I began to appreciate the little joys in life and all those miserable moments at Taiwan turned into blessings: my delight as I played the Taiko drum game, my excitement as I pranced through the night markets, my appreciation of being able to play the crane machines, and my joy of just being there in my homeland Taiwan surrounded by my loved ones.
Glancing up, I gazed at the vast, blue sky. Although my mom and I lived in different time periods, we shared the same sky. This is the sky my mother had toiled and worked on the farm under, this is the sky my mother had chased her disobedient little brothers under, this is the sky my mother had eaten that bite of delicious wax apple under, and this is the sky I reminisced under, cherishing all the wonderful experiences I had at Taiwan.