I stopped by the Chinese Historical Presentation at Tufts medical center... late for the presentation but I chanced into Auntie Amy among others and we had some long discussions.
"Hey Adam, did your mother tell you many stories about your father?"asked Auntie Amy suddenly. People around here kind of thought it was weird she was suddenly talking to me I think.
I was assuming she was asking me whether I knew my father ran a gambling den and the like or not. The answer to that was sort of. I knew stuff but not details. Not because my mother didn't tell me. More because she probably didn't know the details and also I was young.
"You should write about your father. Because he and his friends were very influential in Chinatown for that time period. He and the people around him and the work they did with Nai Lun Association and others was essential to Chinatown at that time."
Okay so to write something like that first off I don't know enough. I basically know enough to write a mention that doesn't do justice. Plus I had always thought I was brought into Nai Lun Association as a child... but I wasn't sure. I think I went in there when my dad gambled and I remember grabbing at the dice. We werent't playing nickel and dime Mah Jong it was craps. And I rolled snake eyes not knowing the meaning of it all. It's one of the reasons why I don't gamble.
Hearing the words come out of Auntie Amy's mouth sort of was just a confirmation. Still, I know nothing about Nai Lun Association... except that it seem sto be gone now, and that is a recent thing.
"How old was your father?"
Uhhh he was born in '34 I think but we weren't sure. He wasn't sure actually.
She nodded her head, "So he would be about 80... I think enough time has passed that you can talk about all these things. "
There are two big things to pull out of this sentence.
A) even if my dad were alive, he would be younger than Auntie Amy.
B) she was totally talking about Statute of limitations.
Okay so it would be interesting to write those stories. But even IF I knew them all, I would wait till everyone was dead before putting it out there. But again just I kind of knew what was going on. It didn't mean that I KNEW what was going on, like names dates and events.
Hell my mom didn't even KNOW know. Not really, because it was irrelevant to her. The FBI had approached her to be some sort of spy and it was the same thing. First of all she didn't know as much as they thought she did and secondly, F off because she was with my dad.
I mean some people would think that some of my sense of loyalties and all that is somehow adopted from the Chinese culture. Let me tell you, a lot of it comes from my mother and my maternal grandfather.
A lot of Chinese don't realize just how bad-ass a traditional "Chinese" wife a white woman or any non Asian woman can be. There are more cultural similarities than differences across the board.
But what was most interesting to me about what Auntie Amy said, is that there was a community side to the vague things that my dad did. I just thought he ran a gambling house and was a chef, and watched a ton of TVB kek jap soap operas, and that is the end of the story. One sentence. But what is Nai Lun Association? What was the work in the community? I actually even know that my father did stuff with the CCBA but only because he shook his head and grumbled about it (which might not be what Auntie Amy wanted me to write.) But that's all I know. I mean, my mom didn't speak Chinese and my dad didn't speak English. It isn't like they would have long political discussions with details about what was going on and who was who.
My mom had saved a bunch of articles from the time and she would only say that what was in the newspapers was spun in to way to make these guys look so terrible, so bad. I mean there must have been some truth to that, but it's true that the humanity, the community side of the story gets thrown out because it's harder and more complicated to understand.