My Mahmah and Yehyeh took their 5 kids by boat from Hong Kong to San Francisco Chinatown, and once they got their place in the Sunset, they pretty much stayed there and worked into their grey years. In his last few months with us, I found out that my Yehyeh always wanted to travel, but Mahmah never let them, to save money, presumably. Though my Pau said they did have money— they did own their house, in The City, and that’s saying somethin. I think it had part to do with their ingrained frugality— that comes packaged nicely with the need to prove you can make due while expending as little money as possible even at the expense of getting the second best thing to what you truly dreamed for (perhaps an inherited tool for survival as they did escape the grasp of Communist China); a mental state which I can unsurprisingly understand. They did enjoy a few trips to Reno on the Chinatown bus here and there, and a notable (or at least, documented) visit to Yosemite, my cousin’s Wedding in LA, and a voyage back to Hong Kong with Uncle Peter, to visit Yehyeh’s family compound, where he grew up with my great grandfather and his three wives.
In the last few months with Mahmah before she passed, I learned her name, Kwai, comes from the palm tree they used to make fans of. A common tree, in Hong Kong. A beautiful, functional, simultaneously simple and grandiose, tree. She inferred it wasn’t that serious though. Her family was farmers, and not many people could read, so they named their children common terms. She said she knew a boy who lived nearby named Pig Dog.
She pointed one out to me, as we walked up to one of her favorite grocery spots on Irving. Now I see them everywhere. And when I see one, I feel that she’s with me. And I see them often. I seen this tree all over Hawai‘i. On my recent travels that this Kwai plant is helllla abundant in South East Asia. The more I saw them, the more I was comforted. Mahmah was with me. And she didn’t need to travel— she was already there.
‘It was bright as fuck’ | Angkor Wat, Obviously | Siem Reap, Cambodia | September 24th, 2019
‘It felt much vaster than even this’ | Angkor Wat | Siem Reap, Cambodia | September 24th, 2019
‘Spider La, Spider La’ | Chiang Mai, Thailand | September 26, 2019
Hong Kong, #FreeHongKong | October 6, 2019
To be Continued 🙃