I went with little hope of finding any trace of his presence, just to visit perhaps the ground where he had lived and worked. Exiting the train station, the area was precisely as I had been warned it would be–glass facades adorning recently built concrete and steel. Passin the rising street numbers–32 Walker, 46 Walker–I expected little. At the 88 Walker Steet I saw the old North Syndeny Fire Station,built in 1985, which is now a Malaysian restaurant. The building was intact, however, witht he date marking its presence through the years the fire station almost every day, and as I stoppoed to touch the walkk that he may have touched, I felt a little closer to the ground upon which he had stood. After fifty feet down the road, a noew office bulding occupied 100 Walker Street. It had clearly replaced half a block of existing buildings. A sign announced that a Methodist Church had stood there from 1931 until 1970. Had the church replced his grocery store? Or had it arose next to it? A bank machine stood near the enterance to 100 Walker Street, and since I needed money to get to the airport, I went to make a withrawal. As twenty dollars slipped out, I was strucked that this money came to me from the hollowed ground. Staring at the orange Australian bill in my hand, I suddenly became convinced that I needed to make an offereing of some kind. There was a small plot of ornamental bushed in front of the building, a patch of green adminst the grey concrete. Taking the last dollar in my pocket, I dropped it into the bushes as an offering and bowed my head three times in respect.

My mother explained on the phone later in the week that when she told my grandmother that I had visited the site of her father’s store, and that I had made an offering before leaving, my grandmother began to quietly cry.

To my mother, the silent tears meant many things–that my grandmother was relieved that I had gone in her stead, that she could now be at peace. Perhaps, my mother speculated, my grandmother also felt at peace that she herself would be remebered, that my pilgrimage signaled future rememberances when she herself was gone.

My mother also believed that there were ties that only people who have known them can understand, that sometimes people are connected. A daughter understands her mother’s tears.


Excerpt from “Writing the Past in the Present”,by Henry Yu. Found in Amerasia Journal 28:3 (2002)

As I read this in the train, I found my tears rolling down my face. Unexpectedly.
As I read it the second, the third time, I can still feel that pangs of emotions.
My first Geography reading which tugged my heartstrings.

Maybe it’s the flu,
Maybe the people who come and go..

Beauty does not come with perfection, but with flaws and pain.
Cry for life is sad. Smile for it is still beautiful.


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