I got a credit card bill notice stating that a large sum of money was spent in a Shanghai hospital. It had to be my parents, I concluded. Only they have access to that card.
But the hospital?
It was 8 o’clock in the morning in Shanghai. What could go wrong? What was going on? And most important, who was in the hospital?
My heart was pounding. My thoughts were racing. My body was quivering. I began praying, please, please, please…
I tried to call their cells. No one picked up. I called one of my aunties. No answer. I then texted a friend in Shanghai giving her both of my parents’ numbers.
“Could you check on them for me? Please?”
I waited. No reply. I then tried calling another auntie, my Mum’s eldest sister. She picked up. Thank God. And thank Chairman Mao for not implementing the One-Child Policy.
— Talk to me!
*I demanded. My voice was shaking.
— Oh, it must be your dad.
— My dad?!
*Last year in January when I was still in Shanghai, it was Mum who was hospitalized.
— What happened?
— Just a minor surgery.
— A surgery?! What kind of surgery? Be specific!
— Oh, he’s been having this condition for well over two years now.
— Two years? Why don’t I even know?!
My tears poured out. I felt I had failed as a daughter.
I want to be filial. But me in Los Angeles, and them back in Shanghai, how filial can I be when all I do is to call them once a week at random and strange hours?
My savings are now dried up and I haven’t been employed since last August. I now practically live on my parents’ meagre savings while they haven’t seen much of the world yet. And they are pushing into their sixties. The clock is ticking.
I want it so bad to give them back, give them the best. To thank them for their nurturing, for their teaching, for their selflessness, for their understanding, for their encouragement and for their support. I want to become rich and famous — Not because I want them for myself. But I can stop worrying about money, stop missing my parents in the darkness of the night. So they can start to enjoy their life and worry less about me and my expat life in the U.S.
This has become part of the source of my drive — To give them a better life. I don’t really care what people think about me, how I dress. But I care how people view my work. Because that’s what defines me now, that’s what will bring something tangible and meaningful to me.
But what about love?
Love is only so transient. Another cousin of mine is getting married this June. I am going to miss her wedding. She is one year older than I am. I am 28, and I haven’t yet had a boyfriend till today. Pretty pathetic, right? I feel that no matter how sincere, friendly, gorgeous, put-together, versatile I am, no one is ever going to get serious about getting into a relationship with me. I’ve met four guys since I arrived. None were serious players. I think next time, I might just cut to the chase and ask, “Are you serious, or are you just fucking around? Because if you belong to the latter, please just fuck off.” I just can’t afford to waste another ounce of my energy on chicken shit like this.
My parents won’t say it, but I know what they are thinking. They want me to find someone who deserves me. They want me to start a family so my significant other can take some burdens off my shoulder. And unlike my rebellious younger self, I want to be their trophy daughter. I want to exceed my parents’ wildest expectations of me — even though all they ever want for me is my happiness.
All I want for them is their happiness, and to join with me here in the U.S.
If God’s design for me is to live alone, work alone, and die alone. So be it. I will then gear all the energy to work till the last breath I take. I will work my damnedest so I can show my parents the world they’ve missed out while supporting my life here. That’s the least I can do.
— A wish from a child who’s far, far away from home.