Saturday, May 14, 2005

Two-Two Much

I was admitted to the hospital by my school doctor when he checked my tonsils (or tonsil, the right one) and decided it was imperative that I got my ass over there ASAP.

After all these years, my mother continues to be the only person capable of turning my typically upturned face -- albeit, also a passive-looking one -- into a weathered Greek statue the moment its heart stops and leaves its vacuous body, suddenly callow and wan even under the glare of the sun.

I called her two, maybe three, times last night, informing her of my illness. Since both my parents studied medicine back in China, her curt answers sounded neither caring nor assuring in the situation and eventually drove me off the phone with her long-distance lecture series on correcting my "manners" or -- ahem -- proper volume control. (We're Chinese! We talk like Arabs and Italiens! It's our thing! She can't not like it when she does it too!) I dropped my hands into my lap, still clasping the little silver device, and grabbed a magazine to hide the release of Little Boy and Fat Man, two atomic sized teardrops that forced me to stop blinking in case another set was ready to go.

"Grow up! You never cry," I heard myself thinking. "Now go find a tissue; people are watching."

The following morning, I discovered my mother had called me six times within six hours. A nurse told me my mother called when I was getting a morning check-up. Two family friends came running in telling me my mother, who had been up all night searching for my whereabouts, was currently readying the van to take the six hour drive up to Montreal.

But once I got ahold of her on the phone, the lines of communication scorched, smoldered, and eventually cracked. She told me to make myself some congee and go to bed. I told her I didn't have time for that because I had errands and classes to prepare for; there's no room for rest when you live alone. We grappled over my day's plans until I went silent and "uh-huhed" my way into appeasing her. Or so I thought. Because no more than an hour later, I got another call asking me where I was.

"At a friend's [M. Biologique]," I told her.

She was distraught:

"What are you doing there?! Why aren't you home? You're not planning to go climb mountains, are you?! Please take your pills already" (or in frenzied Cantonese: Aye ya! Why?! Deem guy?!).

Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Okay. Click.

I left M. Biologique's and headed for the library. I received another rumble in my pocket, this time from my father, a mere 20 minutes later. I could hear my mother in an adjacent room telling him what to say. I tried focusing on his soothing Mandarin baritone instead of his mistress's swilling hysterics, at once dramatic and comparatively tame.

Uh-huh. Gotcha. Gotcha. Click.

Please let that be the last one.

No comments: