i'm rifling through stacks of notes haphazardly tucked into old manila folders, and here they are. pieces of paper ripped out of a notebook, on which my father frantically scribbled the names of our only remembered ancestors. "you have to remember them," he implored, tapping each name with the tip of my pen while i winced for the nib he was bending. "you have to remember them, and remember what was done to them." i nodded and took them from his hands as i stepped into the line for security screening. we'd see each other again, soon, but in that moment, it felt like we were being ripped apart forever.

i grabbed my cousin's arm; he would escort my father back to the family apartments. "take care of him," i demanded. take care of him, because even i don't know how.


i'm the only one named with the family generational tag. i'm fourth of seven in this generation, and the first one to be born overseas. "i'm guessing your father gave you this name because he wanted to feel more connected to the old home," my oldersister-cousin surmised. "it's a really old-fashioned thing to do, but i like it. it's romantic."


"i'm pretty sure i was always meant to be american," my father proudly declared in chinese, in a context i've already forgotten. "i was just born in the wrong place."

19 January 2015 12:37

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