Blinded Eyes

A Fujifilm photo of my sister and I 

lives on a bookshelf in our parents’ room

when she and I were sitting on the couch

in our apartment in Hong Kong

that I now miss. 

I remember so clearly 

lungs pushing hard to breathe oxygen 

as I walked up a hill to the top of “Happy Valley”

and how I held my breath as I walked up the chlorine washed stairs.

Cockroaches danced frantically on their backs 

and I ran quickly to get to the apartment.

Meanwhile, my thoughts gathered into a hurricane of confusion

as my classmates’ words whirled through my head:

You don’t look Korean, you don’t look like you’re from New York,

You’re Chinese right? How come you can’t speak Chinese 

when your last name is Taiwanese?

The barred window of my bedroom 

made me feel like a prisoner and

wishing desperately to be in 

New York, 

Seoul, 

Venice,

anywhere,

except for here.

Kimchi stew is one of my favorite Korean dishes.

As the soup goes from spoon to lips to tongue to throat,

its flavors warming the insides of my stomach,

I can taste the sourness of the fermented cabbage

the sweetness of the added sugar,

the savoriness from the tender pork.

But as my mother made this dish to make her children smile,

she cried in the kitchen next to the awfully tiny refrigerator

feeling like a prisoner

wishing desperately to be in 

New York, 

Seoul, 

Venice,

anywhere,

except she has children to care for 

and mouths to feed.

She can’t escape this hurricane either.

All children are blind to their parents’ struggles

They don’t know any better. 

I wish I had known. 

Editors: Emily X. Nikki J. Nadine R. Sam L., Anoushka K., Joyce S., Zoe L.

Cover Photo Source:  http://artasiapacific.com/Blog/HongKongGalleryRoundup

Author’s note:

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about childhood innocence and how, as much as I encountered challenges, that my parents did as much as they could to maintain a great childhood for me. I was too young to recognize their struggles, and as a now 17-year-old, I wonder how that impacted them.