Broken Boughs

My family tree is large and its roots stretch across the globe. I don’t even know how many second cousins I might actually have, much less their parents’ names.

But I’ve often wondered if having relatives even matters.

You see, I have struggled for a long time with family expectations and standards. As the eldest grandchild, I was expected to set an example and my mother pushed me to excel in school and in other activities.

When I did well, I was praised and my mother was pleased. When I didn’t, which was more usual, it was explained as, “Well, she never studied/practised enough and she’s not naturally bright/talented so why should I expect anything from her? She’s useless!” or words to that effect. So I buried my feelings, avoided the stares and resolved to try harder next time.

But school got harder, extracurricular activities got more demanding, the days seemed to grow shorter and my grades got no better.

I stopped trying. I hated school. Hated the other kids (heck, they hated me but that’s another story). Hated always being the one never chosen for the good groups or interschool competitions. Hated always having to play the piano at family events. Hated being my mother’s chance to outshine the kid of Aunt This or Uncle That.

Because my mother also skillfully kept all relatives’ attempts to chat with me at bay, nobody ever knew how I felt. One of my aunts once encouraged me to write to her (she lived in another state) and my mother found out. “Why are you so stupid? Can’t you see she just wants to assess how you write then teach her children? Do you think she cares what you have to say? You’re so stupid.”

Back then, I knew nothing of narcissism or Tiger Mums. I only knew what lay ahead if my mother didn’t look good, or if I didn’t do things her way. I remember telling her off once, that she treated me as a performing monkey more than as a daughter. That conversation didn’t end well.

Most conversations with my mother never ended well. She and I are different personalities. And my father was never strong enough to support his child against her.

I stopped speaking to my mother 15 years ago. She tells everybody that, followed by a litany of all she has done for me and how much money she has wasted on me. And how I am unfilial, worthless, undependable, untrustworthy or whatever.

Family occasions are weird because we’re both present but we stay apart. It works for me because I have nothing to say to her, and she can’t call me any names.

I have started seeing a therapist to help me deal with the unreleased fury and grief I have within me. I want to learn how to cope with how I feel now and how I felt then.

What has this post got to do with branches? Well, there are countless branches on my family tree. Yet not one provided shelter or shade. I don’t want to blame anyone because narcissists are that good at camouflaging the truth, and they probably saw what she wanted them to see.

I have so much to say about my mother. I might share more stories. We’ll see.


No More Pinky Promises

Hold my hand, don’t drag me by my sleeve.

Hold my hand, don’t take it to pull me where I don’t want to go.

Hold my hand, don’t fling it away because you have more important things to do.

Hold my hand and say, “We’ll do this together,” not “You’re so stupid! Why can’t you do anything right?”

Hold my hand and guide me to walk strong and tall, not pull yours away and say, “Stand on your two feet, you dirty yellow chicken!”

Hold my hand, tell me I am a good daughter despite my flaws, not tell all the relatives that I am unfilial, unreliable, untrustworthy, worthless, and lacking in grace, manners and civility.

Hold my hand, teach me arts and crafts and life skills, not use your own to slap me, and write lists and essays of how much money I cost you to raise me.

Hold my hand because you are my mother, and I should be by your side for your golden years.

But you know what?

Don’t hold my hand.

I have walked a long road on my own two feet. It has taken a long while but I have found my path. I found my way. And I am letting you go.


RDP ~ HOLD MY HAND

Ahem. Ah Choo.

When Covid-19 hit, there were tales of Asians being insulted, ostracised, spat at, beaten, screeched at to “Get the #@$ out of my country!”

Then came the pictures of shopkeepers who placed posters across their doors, refusing service to “foreigners”.

Now that this virus has spread even further, and the patients are no longer just Asians, is it wrong to take a few moments to snort at the latest online videos?

The classic is the one where an Asian man steps into a restaurant, a lift and a gym, and coughs; the folks flee faster than The Flash. The man is an actor with a message. But behind the snarky storytelling lies a sad reality.

My child called home last week to say an Asian friend was in a fairly crowded train, heading from Oxford to London. He coughed because his throat was ticklish – you know, the sort of ticklish that a sip of water will take care of.

What happened was this: the carriage emptied. Every single person packed his or her things and left. The young Asian didn’t know whether to sob (“It kinda hurt!”) or celebrate (“I got the whole place to myself – beats even First Class.”)

I’d say the virus isn’t what’s viral. How we’re responding is. And while it’s understandable, it’s still sad.

P/S The young Asian is healthy.


RDP ~ VIRAL

He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands …

Can I just say I’ve had days where I’ve wanted to whack a phone zombie on the head just so he would put the phone away, and look up and focus on the world around him?


Is your meal companion not important enough that you need to be communicating with someone else who’s not there? Or engrossed in the latest tweet or post?

Is your life not precious enough that you’re texting or watching something and not looking where you’re stepping?

Is your privacy or your company’s latest figures not confidential enough that you’re babbling away in a packed train for all to hear?

Really, is the world you live in so bad that you prefer the tiny one in your hand? I’m all for theย  convenience, connections and entertainment phone use brings; I’m just worried it may have overtaken the purpose of living.

It is the greatest irony that MacDonald’s attempt to encourageย  phone-free meal times by providing phone lockers ended up a huge failure.






RDP ~ ANNOYING

The Weight Of Waiting

Waiting for the microwave to ding, for the delivery guy, for the bus, for something to go on sale, for your turn at the doctor’s …

These are easy ‘waits’. We know that, eventually, that which we are waiting for will happen. The microwave will ding, the bus will come, and two hours or more later it will be our turn to enter the doctor’s office. The parcel? Well, there could be an inexplicable delay or, like mine did, it could go on an extended holiday in Paris (yep, the one in France) before it found its battered way back and I’d forgotten what was in it.


So then what’s a difficult ‘wait’? It’s waiting for signs that a relationship can be saved if you were more forgiving and tolerant.

It’s waiting for acknowledgement that you have done well.

It’s waiting for others to realise they’d been fed a load of lies and been taken in by someone with a glibber tongue, a wittier story telling style or a more convincing persona.

It’s waiting for the life you were meant to have if you were filial, loyal, kind, honest and hardworking.

It’s waiting for someone to change for the better.

Guess what? I’m done waiting. I will change. I will make my life better because I deserve it. And those people? They can wait in vain for me.”



RDP ~ WAITING




Do I Believe In Magic?

As a child, I thought the David Copperfield show was pure magic. He could make people float, he cut them up and they didn’t bleed, and he made airplanes and elephants disappear. How magical was that!

Then I grew up. And learnt about chemistry, physics, sleight of hand, optical illusions … suddenly, magic became de-magicked. I mean, The Magician’s Greatest Secrets was a hit on telly.

Today, definitely older and debatably wiser, David Cooperfield’s magic no longer enthralls me. I learnt that the real Copperfield was a Dickensian orphan made good. I have an unwillingness to suspend belief.


But I still believe in magic. I believe it’s the infant’s happy squeal, the child’s look of wonder and joy at his achievement, the deep and unspoken communication between animal and man, the music performance that brings an audience to tears …

I believe that the truly magical defies science and logic. Know where to look and you’ll find magic in the power of life that allows us to heal, and which teaches us to hope.


RDP ~ MAGIC



What’s It Worth?

What exactly is a masterpiece? And how do you determine its worth?

Is it Beethoven’s Fifth?

Tchaikovsky’s ballets?

Van Gogh’s paintings?

I M Pei’s designs?

The 2 year old’s first independent crayon picture?

The spider’s gossamer web on a dewy sparkling morning?

Perhaps the true masterpiece is what you see when you look in the mirror. Flawed, flawless, fragile, frazzled, freckled, frownlined, finely coiffed … whoever you are and however you look, YOU are the masterpiece, and perfectly priceless.


RDP PROMPT ~ MASTERPIECE