Performing Scraps of Filial Piety
I. Tossing on too-big rubber slippers for a race with my brothers to grab the groceries, thinking, hope I score the biggest bag so they see me being helpful.
II. Accepting red envelopes with the practiced grimace that I’ve been told signifies graceful reluctance. Remembering to extend both hands.
III. Balancing uncomfortably on tip-toe, stretching to pour pu’er across the other side of the dim sum round table for Popo.
IV. Watching that cursory, unsurprised nod when I arrive at the house with a basket of mandarins. “Just… place them over there on that rosewood bench—yes, with the rest of the ones your cousin brought us two days ago.”
V. Squeezing between her frail form and the chopping board when the in-law is chopping radishes so that I might cook on her behalf. (I can’t cook.)
VI. Blinking away the weltering fumes from the gray incense at Gunggung’s framed altar.