University of California - San Diego
As you reflect on your life thus far, what has someone said, written, or expressed in some fashion that is especially meaningful to you? Why?
A soft humming fills the quiet kitchen as she picks up another potato. Calmly, casually, almost lovingly, she guides a smooth steel blade under the thin, textured surface, and a perfect strip of skin falls onto the cutting board. Each stroke of the knife is uniform, effortless, like breathing. My grandmother, eighty-two-years old, and I sit tackling the unpeeled potatoes. I notice her weathered hands, gnarled from decades of laundry, dishes, and meals. I see her fingers deftly searching the curves of each one, peeling and shaping it.
There is no talking, because it's not what we do. Years of being reminded to respect and revere my elders have created a distance between us, an inclination to speak not with words, but with polite and meaningful mannerisms. This is typical quality time, a comfortable quietness. Suddenly, she speaks to me in Vietnamese: "You know, your hands are not meant for this kind of work." Startled, I realize how often she says things I don't immediately understand. Still, I think of how ill-adapted my hands are to handling a peeler, how when I set foot in the kitchen, I am usually ushered to "go do your homework." Even my mother has always claimed that housework would...
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