That year’s Chunjie 春节 came pretty early, before my birthday. At time, Popo was living with Jiujiu at Grandaunt Lucy‘s siheyuan. Yeye and Nainai were still living at Canzheng Hutong (would soon be kicked out ..). Jiujiu was single (would marry Jiumu that following September). We celebrated the new year at Popo’s place. In the afternoon, we gathered in the courtyard for some pictures. Mom loved taking pictures.
After few rounds, Jiujiu ordered me to take one with Popo. Mom joined us. Relunctnatly, I complied. If there was a jinx, Jiujiu was it. If he said I should sit, I didn’t dare to stand. Under the pressure I posed for the picture. Nainai was watching.
There was this rivalry I knew since I could remember but hardly could understand, even nowadays. Nainai liked to belittle my Popo. For apparent reason and for no reason at all. She had Yeye and his heart from the day one. I remembered being regretful at time that she wasn’t married to my grandfather.
In any case, I pursed my little lips knowing this would make Nainai happy .. .. in fact, I didn’t really want to be seen with my Popo. Popo and I were never close. She had the distinct smell from years of smoking; colored fingers; worn a wide black rim thick glasses; funny shoes because of her half bonded feet; she suffered from osteoporosis; arthritis had deformed her fingers .. sitting next to her trying to memorize a poem wasn’t as pleasant as going out with Nainai. Few times Popo volunteered to make me lunch, ended up blacked them all: she was reading. So for a kid, my heart rested with Nainai. I didn’t want to be seen in public with Popo. And Nainai certainly took glee in all of those.
.. Mom scolded me days later when she got the picture.