All that was needed was rice to go with my leftovers.

Rice was not my staple food, in the sense than even the rice cooker has been used to cook pasta more frequently than its main usage.

Rice was all I need, but salt was all I tasted.

She pointed out to the large slippers by the wall before I lay a foot in the kitchen.

They were probably the size of my late grandfather’s feet, and I think I would do a better job in falling in them than to be without them.

I was last to arrive on the table, everyone had their share, but the plates looked untouched.

My grandmother, who knew my choosy diet, had prepared me several dishes of vegetables, in which no one else would take into delight. There was no way for scrawny me with a seemingly large appetite would be able to finish everything that was placed in front of a girl who’s shoulders peeked above the table.

But yet my grandmother made them, and while I tried to finish what I could, many would go to waste, and she would toss it into the trash, that labor of love. I sometimes try to help with the dishes, but I know the moment she saw me doing it, she would tell me to go outside to play with my Chinese-speaking cousins.

At that age, I didn’t understand what to-go was, and if she knew how economical I would be, she should have let me keep all the food so I can savor it more.

Even then, she probably wouldn’t let me keep it either, for she’s used to making more food than necessary, so none of her five kids would go hungry.


The last time I went home to family, the language barrier had become less. My dad arranged an overdue family reunion, using my leaving to the States in a couple of days as an excuse. Everyone arrived, unsettled and a little awkward. My aunts encouraged my cousins and I to converse, it’s strange that we were only a year or so apart but remained superficial in our communication.

The largest communication barrier should be with my grandmother, since we are two generations apart. She understood English the least among everyone else, and I was the only grandchild who didn’t understand Hokkien, her mother tongue. While there are kids who hear stories about World War II from their grandparents, I could not say the same, because I wouldn’t know the right words to convey.

So my grandmother and I had very little in common. And I wished that wasn’t an issue, for I would be willing to sit by her all day listening to her stories, while everyone would converse around the television my dad bought for the rest of the family.

Even then, she would still cook me dishes that no one would eat, and too much for one to consume.

I remembered reading a story from a Chipotle bag about a boy who tried to eat as much rice to overcome the saltiness of the sardines.

“Mom,” I said, “Did you put a lot of salt on this sardine? Why is it so salty?”

“No, my son,” she said, “It’s your tears.”


After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Therefore encourage one another with these words.

-1 Thessalonians 4:17-18


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